When comic book, TV and movie heroes are created, they are packaged neatly and look all shiny and sparkly. Real-life heroes, like Charles Ramsey, just appear and do the job.
Real-life heroes may be messy, they may not be dressed in bright spandex costumes or iron suits, drive a Batmobile, relish their Batcave and they may -- like Ramsey -- spring into action in the middle of life's everyday activities.
The media crush began May 6 -- 18 days ago -- when the colorful Ramsey was eating his McDonald's lunch and heard screaming. You all know the story. He and another man helped Amanda Berry and her daughter escape from Ariel Castro's Seymour Avenue house.
After he and Berry both called 911, police arrived and rescued Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight from the house. They had been kept there for about a decade.
In telling and retelling his story to the media that immediately descended on Seymour Avenue, he talked about eating his McDonald's. His story was candid, irreverent and sprinkled with profanity and politically incorrectness.
Dressed in a white T-shirt and wrinkled pants, his grin punctuated with missing teeth, he seemed to relish his willingly captive audience who asked question after question.
A very unlikely hero but a hero nonetheless.
Now that some time has passed, I watched his interviews again. There's nothing polished about Ramsey except maybe his values. A dishwasher at Hodges, a downtown Cleveland restaurant, he's on paid leave for now.
First Hodges created the Ramsey Burger in his honor, then one company created a Charles Ramsey action figure -- both a talking and a non-talking version -- that has a burger in one hand, and then another company created a video game.
At this writing, he is supposed to speak at an appearance Friday at the Stanville, Kentucky law firm of Eric C. Conn. According to a news release from the firm, Conn, known for his love of statues, commissioned a statue of Ramsey, which will be unveiled.
Then that statue will be donated to an as yet unnamed Cleveland museum.
And food. Ramsey told the 911 dispatcher that he was eating McDonald's when he heard the screams.
More than a dozen restaurants in Cleveland and one in Pennsylvania are giving Ramsey burgers free for life. McDonald's local franchises are giving Ramsey free food for a year.
McDonald's corporate office has made a $10,000 donation to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in the names of the women and Ramsey.
We haven't seen or heard from Ramsey much lately. He may be benefitting from his fame but I doubt that it will change him much.
He didn't all of a sudden "decide" to be a hero. He may have just been curious about the screams. He seems a gregarious sort.
The dictionary definition of a hero is a person who is admired for courage or noble qualities or the chief male character in a book, play, or movie, who is typically identified with good qualities.
We expect police officers, firefighters and people whose job it is to protect us to be heroes. We appreciate them regularly. But it's something else when an average person does something heroic.
It restores our faith in humanity.