A Bit About Me

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Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".

21 June 2011

What Gives?

(I wrote this "article" 25 June 2010 for possible inclusion in the Montgomery Advertiser's printed edition. It never saw the light of day...but I decided to dig it out a year later because I think the story still needs to be told -- it IS a nice story about a nice person and I've always felt the media needed more such subject matter. But crime and controversy sells, so the bad gets the coveted first pages and good things are relegated to teeny-tiny columns hidden on the last few pages, or, unfortunately, as in this case...the trash bin.

I left this piece exactly as it was submitted...so please bear in mind I didn't alter it in any way -- facts and figures have undoubtedly changed since. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process: finding an interesting subject to report on, interviewing, writing, etc., -- hopefully you will remotely enjoy reading it.)

The old adage "You get what you pay for" doesn't hold true for anyone who has reaped the benefits of Freecycle.org. You see, Freecycle.org doesn't sell anything whatsoever, but that doesn't necessarily mean you come away empty-handed. Every single day countless people across the nation are giving away or seeking things totally free of charge; and here in the Montgomery area, one of the most prolific "give-awayers" is Raymond Tyc.

And anyone who is a member of Freecycle knows of Ray as well. Ray, how should I say, can never be confused with any other Freecycler out there. Sure, there's been some who've tried to copy him, but they can't hold a candle to the master (even IF they got that candle for nada on Freecycle).

Most people who give away things on Freecycle tend to be matter of fact about it: OFFER: Refrigerator. Doesn't work. Must pick up.

But not Ray. He might be giving away the most insignificant item in the whole universe, but the story he conjures up regarding it (many times with his wife as the foil - a fact she is totally fine with), will make it look so good you couldn't possibly pass it by. And, truth be told, you'll look forward to the next thing he’s giving away, if only for the tale that's told. This man definitely has the gift of gab, which, I'm sure, we won't ever see up for grabs on Freecycle.

When I sat down to interview Ray at his house the other day, I had visions of a door opening, just wide enough to squeeze through, and being led by the hand across a knee-high strewn jungle of junk accumulated over someone's lifetime. But it was nothing like that...everything was neat as a pin and nothing piled up from floor to ceiling as far as I could see.

The obvious question to ask right out the gate was, "Why do you do this?" Certainly with the things he's given away over the course of two years (sofas, a dining table, cd players, tape players, T-shirts, a child's ride on-jeep, etc.) he could have amassed a tidy little profit; upwards of three-thousand dollar's worth by his own account "if you had to buy everything new". Ray responded, "Part of why I do it is just because it's fun, part of it's because I have no need for objects or material goods. I was a collector of things when I was young...I've moved on."

Unless it's a high-priced item, don't expect to see it on eBay. "It's just not worth packing and shipping it off, I'd rather give it away." His face just beamed; you could tell he really enjoys what he does.

The highest priced item he’s given away? “Either the chipper/shredder or the stereo system.” And, he confessed, about one-third of the things given away, he’s picked up from curbs. He “hates stuff being trashed” so he “picks it up and Freecycles it”.

He admits the first person who responds by email rarely gets the item, “Whoever strikes my fancy the most gets it; courtesy and appreciation wins over quickness.”

As far as gratitude goes, Ray states, “Only about ten percent of people ever send a ‘thank you’ email, but a lady who once claimed my 1968 Radio Flyer wagon even sent me a photo of it after she painted it green.”

While he might not get public accolades and the adoration of millions, I somehow get the feeling the 56 year-old retired USAF engineer will continue his charitable ways while also fascinating us with his witty stories for the long haul. "I'm a terrible salesman" he confesses to me, but I don't buy it at all.

And another thing I didn't have to buy, and true to his generous nature: I left his house with a shopping bag full of tomatoes and peppers straight from his beautiful garden. Whoever said "there’s no such thing as a free lunch" certainly never met Raymond Tyc.

The Freecycle Network is a nonprofit organization founded in May 2003 to promote waste reduction in Tucson, Arizona. It currently has over 3,500 community groups and millions of individual members in over 70 countries.


  1. The world needs more of these guys, believe me.

    And you didn't say . . . where do I pick up the non-working refrigerator?

  2. I'm sure your Freecycle is a LOT better than ours. You've probably got a whole lot of recyclers there where you live...so I'm sure you'd find a non-working fridge in a day or two.

    And, yes, you've got that right - the world needs more good people...we seem to have a surplus of the bad...or so we've been TOLD.

  3. I bet there are a lot more "Rays" out there than we are led to believe! I'm sorry this wasn't picked up, it's a good story and should have been told.

  4. Thank you, Nicky. I am sure as well.

    As long as people in the community with the power to do something good FOR the community continue to report with such gusto on the bad...bad will always win out.

  5. This is a wonderful story. Since it's a year old... well, not to burden you with anything, but might we see a quick follow-up? Maybe just a two or three line update on what he's up to (the same, I imagine) or what he's given away over the previous 12 months? In any case, I'd never heard of Freecycle until now. I'll have to see if it operates in Massachusetts. I suspect it might, and it would be really cool to give and get.

  6. I can't believe they didn't pick this article up!! *stupid people*

    This made me smile and I'm sure would have made others smile if they would have been able to read about it. Tis a shame when good articles about good people/good things don't get printed