Area Man Not Making A Difference

Area man Joel Shumaker is a man with a mission; his morals composed of character and resolve, he strives to change the world, little by little.

"Whenever I pass a stranger, either on the street walking to the soup kitchen I work in every Sunday, or in the office as I am leaving little happy notes on the desks of my co-workers, I smile," the single 35 year-old tells us with a smile -- perhaps the very same one he so faithfully flashes during his daily routine. "It may not seem to be much, but I leave that brief moment of connection with my fellow human knowing that I have made a difference."

Joel continues, "Maybe they were having a bad day, and receiving a smile from a complete stranger made them a little happier. I would even go so far as to hope my smile forced them to re-assess their life priorities and concentrate on being happy."

"What, that weird guy who smiles all the time?" a co-worker responded when asked about Joel. "What the hell is his problem? I hope he doesn't think smiling all the goddamn time will get him anywhere near my pants. I think he has a crush on me. What a weirdo."

Other efforts by Joel to improve the world around him have been met with similar indifference and repulsion.

"That guy who gives me a chicken sandwich every morning?" an area artist complained. "Dumb asshole thinks I'm homeless because of my bohemian wardrobe. All I'm doing is making sketches of the passing people, and simply because the ground affords a better angle, he automatically assumes that I am homeless. I don't even like chicken."

"To relax, I sometimes enjoy feeding birds from my window," Joel says, making a motion with his hand that imitates the manner in which he would feed the birds. "It is a wonderful feeling, to provide for these beautiful fluttering things. I believe that birds are angels, sent by God to watch over us and protect us from harm."

Contrary to Joel's sentimental belief that birds are actually ethereal beings of heavenly form and origin, it is a fact that feeding birds causes them to depend upon such feedings. By feeding birds from his apartment window, Joel has modified their migratory patterns and consigned many a poor pigeon to a wintry death, pecking ineffectively at the frozen ground and shivering at the ineffective insulation provided by its feathers, while its relatives who were fortunate enough not to have eaten from Joel frolic in warmer climes.

Joel, however, remains unaware that his efforts to improve the world are actually making it a much, much worse place.

"God will provide," he nods, cutting plastic soda rings that would otherwise be unable to wrap around the neck of a dog into one giant strip, "and I'm just doing my part to help Him make the world better."

He looks upward in thought and casts the soda rings away, onward to their destiny of killing a family dog.

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