Saturday, February 18, 2017

Frozen Chickens

As a matter of full disclosure, I must admit to you, that I am writing this column under acute and extreme duress. I’m sick. I’m sicker than sick. My co-worker scoffs at the idea and teasingly tells me it’s just a “man-cold.” She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. I’m running a temperature of practically 99 degrees. Fahrenheit. She just had a baby, so what does she know about pain and suffering?
But I digress. Here I sit on the end of the couch, in my NyQuil-addled state, trying to form words into cohesive sentences. As I shiver and sniffle with what is quite possibly the mere beginnings of bubonic-ebola fever, my daughter has taken control of the television remote. I can’t put up much of a fight in my weakened condition, so we end up watching … “Titanic.”

In case you’re one of the two people in the universe who hasn’t seen it, I don’t want to spoil “Titanic” for you, but you should know some of the basic premise. There’s a boat, a guy named Jack, a girl named Rose and some guy that plays Victor on one of those soap operas my wife watches during the summer. At the end, you get to see some old lady’s naked toes, hence the PG-13 rating. There’s also an iceberg that hits the boat and forces the seven stranded castaways to make the very best of their tropic island nest. Wait … that might be the NyQuil talking.

But I digress. As I sat there watching Rose float along nicely on that huge, spacious, buoyant, wooden door while her lover Jack turns blue while treading water in the icy depths of the North Atlantic, I couldn’t help but think of one thing — I work with a bunch of crazy people. Kind-hearted folks, but crazy nonetheless.

You see, when I’m not living the life of devil-may-care luxury as a world-famous, bi-weekly, small-town newspaper columnist, I can usually be found at my real job at MTM Recognition in Princeton, Illinois. I’ve only been there a little while, so I’m still the dumb new guy. My hope is to work there long enough to someday become the dumb old guy. My dreams aren’t as ambitious as they used to be.

A while back, some of my co-workers decided to form a polar bear plunge team. I had heard of polar bear plunges before. It’s when you chop a hole in a frozen lake or pond and then proceed to immerse your body in the near-freezing liquid. I only thought that 100-year-old Norwegian guys did this to jumpstart their hearts every morning. Little did I ever imagine that I would work in the midst of people who would do this voluntarily.

But they’re doing it. On the morning of Saturday, Feb. 25, MTM will be sponsoring a team of lunatics … I mean … people, to splash into the frigid depths of Lake Mendota in Mendota, Illinois. They have even picked out an appropriate moniker to call themselves — The MTM Frozen Chickens. I have heard something about the apparel they plan to adorn themselves with that day. There are rumors about chicken masks, spray-painted orange shoes, and leggings made to look like chicken legs. Did I mention that they might be crazy?

But they are being crazy for a very good reason. This Polar Bear Plunge is a part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run  which is the largest grass-roots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle for Special Olympics. MTM is not the only company to be represented. A bevy of other teams of equally crazy people will also be entering the icy waters. It should be a spectacle to behold.

One of the team members even approached me about being on the MTM team. As much as I like to support a good cause such as this, I had to decline. I’m an old man with high blood pressure and very little determination. And with this bout of bubonic-ebola fever, who knows if I’ll even be alive by next week. I told them that instead, maybe I would write some nice words to help promote them and the event. And then I proceeded to call them crazy in every possible way. Oops.

In doing some research for this column, something that I never ever do, I got to discover some pretty cool stuff about the company that I work for. For more than 26 years, MTM has played a part in Special Olympics. MTM sponsors the coveted World and National Games medals for Special Olympics and makes all the Special Olympics medals and ribbons used within the United States. MTM also creates awesome athlete rings here in Princeton and Torch Run Hall of Fame rings as well. The company even makes the torches that are used to light the flame of hope all over the world! How cool is that?

But I digress. If you’re looking for something to do next Saturday, wander over to Mendota and help support a good cause. The athletes who benefit from Special Olympics will truly appreciate it. Awwwww, who am I kidding? When you see the smiles on the faces of the Special Olympic athletes, we all benefit. So come on out and gawk at the crazy people taking part in the Mendota Polar Bear Plunge!

If the nice weather we’ve been enjoying persists, the water might not be quite as cold as one would have expected when all of these crazy folks signed on for this event. But I’m betting that the water will still be cold enough to shrivel up my … determination.

You can contact Wallace at gregwallaceink7@gmail.com. You can follow him on his blog at http://gregwallaceink.blogspot.com.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Tuesday, January 17, 2017