Before I could adjust my screen and get situated in my seat, Todd was already asking questions. He seemed more excited that I and wanted to know me. So much so that it actually felt like a real conversation between friends who had already known each other for some time.
Before I knew it, two hours had past and KNOWvember 2020, the COVID edition, was finished for the year.
Todd seems like the kind of guy everyone gets to know. He’s very personable, and really likeable. Which seems odd for someone who spends his days catching financial criminals. “There are a lot of people stealing a lot of money. And I catch them.” He told me all about it, from how he got the job to what he does but suffice it to say all I am at liberty say is he helps regulate the stock market and keep it as honest as he can.
What I can tell you is that his employer used to have a program where on specific work anniversaries, employees were able to choose a gift of their choice from a catalog. Depending how many years you worked there would determine how much you were allowed to spend. Todd got the watch he was wearing. “It’s a Tommy Bahama. It’s 11 years old. Other than changing the battery a few times, it’s still works perfectly.”
A big majority of our time was also spent talking about religion, faith, and swapping stories about being Jewish and going to Christian churches. “I had my first crisis of faith when I was five and a friend of mine died” which caused Todd to wonder why God would let that happen. Though he admired the fact I had a calling (and wanted to know all about it), it seems Todd is still wrestling with the idea. He recalls a time, while visiting a Methodist church in Dupont Circle (in Washington DC), that his thinking began to change. To borrow from the minister of that church, “God is always there when you’re ready.”
Todd’s biggest influences came from three men in his life. Two being teachers from his high school days. And the other one his father. “The older I get the more I hear my father.” Now he is one. When it didn’t seem possible to have kids, the miracles of science allowed them. When I told him I thought having twins was a beautiful way to go insane, Todd hasn’t even noticed how crazy it is, “Twins is all I know.”
But that’s not true, because Todd knows how to catch a criminal. He knows how to sail a boat. And even did it on Lake Erie. He also knows what caffeine does to him so he avoids it. Likewise, he has never really liked to drink, so he doesn’t. And although he’s never shot a crossbow, “Sure, I’d be up for shooting one.” I just want to point out, that each of these weird questions I asked him, his first response was always a big laugh followed by an even bigger smile. That said volumes about this man as it did the idea of asking total strangers random questions.
For example, the mascot at Todd’s high school was The Achievers. Yes, you read that correctly. He went to a preparatory school that didn’t have sports, so I guess they had no real need for a mascot. “But I was more of a semi-achiever.” He joked about he would walk into the class on the first day and figure out what he needed to do to get a B, and how much more effort would it take to get an A. If it was too much, he would settle for the lesser grade.
As an adult, Todd figured out that he would be the mascot for his family. Since everyone used to tell him he reminded them of Winnie the Pooh’s dear friend, Todd went out and bought himself an Eeyore costume to wear at Halloween. “Eeyore’s my Spirit Animal.” There seemed to be a dichotomy between how he saw himself and how I did.
If you were to ask me, Todd is more like Rowlf the Dog, his favorite Muppet, the scruffy brown dog who played piano on the show. Both Todd and Rowlf are calm and yet wisecracking. They have deadpan humor and most of his jokes go unnoticed because they are deep. While it’s said that Rowlf was most like Jim Henson, who created and originally performed the character, Todd is one of a kind. Which, of course, contradict the way Todd describes himself. “I’m an average, normal, liberal leaning, city boy living in the suburbs.”
More than that, he is gentle, kind, easy to talk to, and filled with interesting stories. He is also the last person I will meet and write about today. I can’t think of a better person to close the show. I know I tell myself this every year, but KNOWvember is bittersweet.
It’s a joy. It’s a task. It’s easy. It’s hard. Sometimes I don’t want to do it. And I always hate for it to end. Although the pandemic made it more of a challenge, the concept remained the same and it really wasn’t that different. Each person who gave of their time, did so by giving their all. Including Todd.
I am grateful to all my old friends who took the time to pair me with someone they also knew and loved. It says a lot about the kind of people I know. Thanks to them, and people like Todd who gave of their time, KNOWvember 2020, The COVID edition, was a success.