Saturday, September 01, 2007

You Had Me at, Hi

Yesterday, I was enjoying the beautiful weather (finally!) by taking a long walk down the lake with my dog. I came to a heavily trafficked area of walkers, joggers, rollerbladers and bikers, where I saw a huge smiley face drawn in chalk on the pavement, with "Hi! From, The Hi Guy," written below it.

Ah, The Hi Guy. If you've ever been to Chicago, you've probably seen him... and if you live here, then you definitely have. He's this man who either walks around the streets with a shirt and large sign that say "Hi!" on them, or rides around on a bike with all these crazy decorations on it, with a pole attached to the back carrying his smiley face "Hi!" sign. He is always smiling.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were taking a walk and two pre-teen boys rode by us in the opposite direction, and they both yelled "HI!" at us and waved. So I of course returned their greeting and their wave. My husband said, "Why did you do that?" Me: "What do you mean, why did I do that? I said hi!?!?" My husband probably thought that these kids were playing some sort of sinister prank that I had fallen victim to, but they actually reminded me of this game my brother and I used to play way back in the day. We had this thing called "the pedal car" that my uncle won from McDonald's. I've still never seen anything like it - and when I searched the web to find a picture of something similar, I couldn't. We may just have the only pedal car like ours in existence! It is really big and two adults can fit in front (both pedaling) and three little kids could fit in back. This thing was a yellow and white monster, I tell you. Anyway, my brother and I used to ride it down the sidewalk of a very busy street in our town and wave at all of the cars going by and have contests to see who could get the most people to wave. What a big thrill it was to see how many people would respond (or how many people would stare at us like "What IS that thing???"). It was the height of innocent fun.

That's what I find so intriguing about The Hi Guy. I mean, this is a full-grown adult... I can't discern his age (I'm bad at that), but my guess would be that he's in his 40s. He has been walking around with his "Hi!" sign for ten full years now!!! His real name is Tom Matti... I'm not sure what he does for a living, but he definitely runs marathons (in his "Hi!" get-up - sometimes in sandals and sometimes barefoot!?!?). For those of you who are into running or understand marathon placement, you should check out his stats - he seems to hold some sort of record for running a crapload of races. What is his motivation for all of this? It seems as though he has somehow kept that childlike curiosity and genuine wish for everyone to just be a bit friendlier to each other. Even his friends don't get it.

Seeing his message of happiness drawn out on the pavement yesterday inspired me to write a post about him and his unusual quest. But since it's a wonderful day once again outside, right now it is "bye" time for me!

- e


Wanders said...

Did it look something like this?

Erika (aka "e") said...

I took a look at that pic... nope, the thing we had (or that my parent's still have) was really big... three kids could sit in the "back seat" and the front of it was all encapsulated. If I ever can take a pic of it, I will do so and post it!

- e

Anonymous said...

ah, the pedal-car. That thing is awesome!! I remember the looks we got riding that thing all over this here county! Your parents still have it??!! I might have to take it for a spin the next time I'm in RH...

Anonymous said...

This is getting closer - did you see this one?

And it was manufactured in MI in the 70s!