I'm a softie, really.

So I'm sitting in a Panera Bread in Warren, Ohio.

The city I was born in.

At 5:54 p.m. on a Friday, nearly 38 years ago.

Warren, Ohio, is a city I fled, many times.

Yet here I am, back again.


And while I left this place in my rearview mirror, many times, always saying I'd never be back ... I have to admit I had a whole lot of fun here, too.

Today I was in a couple of buildings I'd not been in for a few years.

I managed to see a couple of people I haven't seen in a while.

And am having dinner at a place I love and don't get to visit much.

There's good food here ... in fact, yesterday, I grabbed some Italian subs yesterday to take Nelson's Ledges with Cammi & Gage & Adam as we went rock climbing and trail walking ... and in the process drove past the place I lost my virginity ... it's now a parking lot, but it was a hotel at the time.

It's gone like a lot of things that once made this city livable. Even likable. But time has no mercy, time won't stand still for anyone.

Especially a dying city that was built by steel mills and auto manufacturing.

Sure, the city's changed. A lot. And still changing. And not always for the good. It's the city that also gave ups Maurice Clarett, so it's not all good.

But back to the city itself: Some new industries are in, but most are gone, like the hotel I lost my virginity in. And the girl I lost it to. Granted, the hotel survived longer than the relationship, which was 2.5 years ... that's not saying much ... I get bored and restless easy.

Anyway ... I often refer to the time I spent living here as a line from a Jimmy Buffet song ... I've had good days and bad days and going half-mad days.

Today, in Warren, Ohio, was a good day.

Woke up in Hermitage, PA; spent a little time with my daughter. Drove into Warren, got my birth certificate, went to get a new social security card, I'll have that in a couple of weeks (all needed for my job search in September). Then was heading out of town, saw a familiar road and decided to turn down it. Don't know if it was the road less traveled or not, because it is a busy US Highway ... but I took it.

And drove to a house I used to visit from time to time. Stopped to see about finding an old friend ... and that worked out well, too. Her mom still lives in the same house. In fact, the friend called when I was there, so I talked to her, we're going to get make plans to have dinner with her and her husband the next time Kara and I go to Cleveland. I haven't seen her since Superbowl Sunday, 1998.

So I was three-for-three in Warren, Ohio today. But the day wasn't over yet, nor the good luck:

I stopped in to get something to eat ... and ended up helping a guy with his wireless connection at Panera because he was lost.

Dammit, Jim, he's a doctor, not an IT guy.

It took me 5 minutes to get figured out and working. He had been frustrated for 30, and this was his third location in the Panera he was trying. When he got online he offered to buy me anything in the store I wanted ... which I politely declined. I had my salad already, I was set. But helping him gave me a smile.

Because I like helping people.

Even people I don't know.

Sure, would have been very easy to shrug my shoulders when he asked if I had any problems getting my computer online, because he couldn't get his working.

I could have easily said, "No. I just turned it on and it worked."

But I didn't. I waited until he booted up, logged in and tried to connect, then I asked him if it worked. Then I took over, changed some configurations (using the Intel Wireless vs. the Windows Wireless config) and BAM, IP address DORA'ed and he has a connection! (DORA'ed is a shout out to my tech school homies and Mark the amazing instructor - DORA = how DHCP IP addresses are assigned - Discover, Offer, Reply, Acknowledge)

ANYWAY ... JJ, the guy I helped, was grateful.

I was happy to have helped.

See, despite my somewhat gruff demeanor sometimes, my inappropriate comments and my off-color jokes, at my core, I like to help people.

It makes me happy.

It makes me feel needed.

And we all need to be needed.

We want to be wanted.

And it's how I get people to like me. I fix their computers.

Everyone needs a gimmick, right?

ICP got face paint; Marilyn Manson has better makeup; and my friend Mark can grill like a mofo.

Others supply you with beer, whiskey, or Cuban cigars (And for the record, they are that good.).

Me, I help people with technology.
And when I fix your computer, you can damn well bet it works. And fast.

Because I'm good at what I do. AND I have nice gear.

I guess it makes me happy because there are times in my life when I think about all the things I can't do rather than the things I can. It's like Robots ... that Pixar movie with Robin Williams when he was still entertaining. Because, as we learned from the movie Robots, "Find a need, fill a need."

And that's where I fit into things. I'm a techno geek. And a good one.

But we're talking about Warren, Ohio.

Since I've mentioned ICP, Marilyn Manson, teased a Cheap Trick lyric, referenced Swig Tooths' most excellent bassist and called back a Disney movie ... I'll leave you with that to chew on.

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