A few of weeks ago, a story idea was presented to me involving a flash mob that took place along a busy commercial intersection right outside of Cincinnati. All I knew was it centered around this guy who locals came to call the “Beechmont Dancing Man.”
The Dancing Man got his name because, yup, he worked alongside a road called Beechmont Avenue, twirling one of those signs and dancing around advertising for a local mattress store. The dude did his job 8-hours a day, five days a week for five months. What was different about him, I was told, was his enthusiasm. He gained the attention of local commuters with his antics. A group of women and local business owners were so impressed they organized a Facebook page which was the genesis of his nickname.
It was the holidays, and the story seemed positive and uplifting, so I decided to follow-up on who the Dancing Man was and why, exactly, there was a flash mob for him.
Turns out Cody Crothers, the dancing man, was 20 years old working to save up a bit of cash before going to college for his freshman year at the Ohio State University. A neighborhood zumba instructor dug up the details, and when she heard about Cody’s work ethic, and attempt to make some money for school, she led the charge for the flash mob.
Susan Hardoerfer, explained how she was impressed with Cody, and how the flash mob unfolded. I wrote a story for the media web site I work for here.
That flash mob grew into about 150 people, and those people took up Cody’s higher education cause, collecting donations that at last check paid for his first semester of school and books.
When I first interviewed Cody on the phone he sounded genuinely surprised by the flash mob turnout and donations. He must have repeated the words grateful and humbled a few dozen times.
When I asked Cody why he took the job he did, because surely he could have taken a job at a hundred other places making the same amount of money, his answer is what impressed me the most.
“In the beginning, I wanted to be able to let go of what others think of me. That’s originally what made me do it. I wanted to gain that confidence that I never had,” he told me.
He added the job accomplished that goal. It was transformative for him.
How many of us have suffered from self-consciousness, often afraid to try new things because of how we might look in the eyes of others? Honestly, I cringe every time I see a photo of myself running. I look like the goofiest man alive with my skinny legs in running shorts and slack jaw. It’s a wonder I go out in public at all.
But Cody decided to dance with abandon on the side of the road in front of thousands of strangers a day to kill that insecurity. And in doing so, he brightened the world of others enough that some of them decided to do something to brighten his.
I wish at 20 I had the where-with-all and courage to do what Cody did in facing his fears and minimizing his own insecurities.