I'll be honest. If you're a man over the age of 70, chances are you can melt my heart in mere moments. Throw in a cane, a little top hat or suspenders, and I immediately turn into one gigantic, squealing gush of "Ohhhhhhh how freaking cute is HE?!", and it is all I can do to keep myself from running right over and pinching ol' Grampa's leathery cheek.
So it is really no surprise that during my trip to D.C., amidst all the rich historical monuments and memorials, I found myself drawn to a small suspender-clad gentleman milling about the sidewalk, an American flag sticking out the back of his little black ballcap.
After recovering from said gushing, I met Mr. Wesley O. Niccolls, Sr. His movements were slow and his voice a bit wobbly, but his story was anything but.
A proud World War II veteran, Niccolls carried a binder with him, held tightly to his chest, which contained several laminated black-and-white photographs of his military service. A copy of his military ID, revealing a young, handsome Niccholls preceded a photo of the ship on which he served so many years ago and one could not help but see the patriotic gleam in his eyes.
The more Niccholls talked, the more intrigued I became. I asked him about his life after his service and he explained he was an inventor who was best known for inventing a motor used in NASA space equipment (okay...he gave more specifics, but I was toooootally out of my element. Insert the nod and smile trick here.). He even said his invention was recently on the cover of a magazine, but when asked if he was quoted in the article he shrugged and said, "Well, you know, I sure don't do it for the press."
Now, I'll be honest with you. At this point, I found Niccolls completely charming, inspiring even...but perhaps a little off his rocker.
After thanking him for his time, I got my photo and turned to head on my merry way. Before I could go, however, Niccolls called out, "Wait!" and began fumbling around in his binder.
"Here is my business card," he said in his slow, shaky voice. "If it isn't too much trouble, could you send me a copy of the photo?" (AS IF I COULD SAY NO!)
Somehow, I was able to leave without packing him in my suitcase right then and there and set about to see the rest of the sights, but nothing quite compared to that little exchange on the sidewalk.
A few days passed, and I found myself sitting at my cubicle and remembering Niccolls and his poignant story.
I pulled out his card and shook my head as I recalled his invention claims.
Being the savvy 20-something that I am, I decided to turn to the all-knowing Google for answers.
Yep, I googled him. Get over it.
Honestly, I was a little afraid at what I might find. For even though I had my doubts about Niccolls, I just did not want to believe that there had been anything but truth behind his unassuming smile.
But lo and behold, he checked out.
Not only that, but he has survived quite a bit of trauma in other aspects of life.
And as if that were not enough, he is even a YouTube star.
So, here's to Mr. Wesley O. Niccolls, Sr.
Thank you for reminding me that everyone does indeed have a story.
p.s. Your picture will be in the mail soon.