Angie and Mr. Bolzner

Short with dark, curly hair, Angie would bound out of his boxy truck and right into our house through the side door with no knock or other announcement of entry. He carried a wire handled, banded six-pack of glass, quart-sized milk bottles.

Burly and bald, Mr. Bolzner muscled a very large plastic barrel from our garage and down the long stretch of our gravel driveway, out to the street where his garbage truck was parked.

There’s no shortage of role models. Especially self-proclaimed ones, frequently well known for their well-knowness. Often following some infraction, the self-described role models acknowledge how they’ve “let down” their mentees. And seek forgiveness so they can persist in their mission to uplift and inspire others.

Too, there is a more simple, less exalted and self-congratulatory level of modeling – the stuff that may actually “count” for something – conducted by less self-aggrandizing individuals.

This kind of role modeling transcends any envy or aspiration for stardom or public notoriety among those for whom the modeling is directed. This kind of modeling is genuine, authentic modeling.

Modeling for the right reasons. Thoroughly absent the self-congratulatory or self-aware motivations of the poseurs.

Modeling a strong work ethic, for instance. Or a mindfulness for deadlines and an understanding of their meaningfulness.

Weekly, in every kind of weather, Angie waltzed right into our home like the relative he wasn’t. And always with a warm greeting that seemed way too cheerful, especially for that hour of the morning.

The fresh milk was popped in the refrigerator, and the empties, stacked inside the milk box outside the side door, were picked up.

Sometimes, on summer days, Angie would chip off hunks from the ice blocks that filled the back of his truck for we kids.

The best part of Mr. Bolzner’s “performance” was the way he palmed the garbage barrel with one hand, rotating it so that the barrel appeared self-propelled. Pretty cool.

Neither Angie nor Mr. Bolzner knew they were role models. The expression may not have even been invented back then, in the early 60s.

How deep was their influence, really? On the surface, probably pretty shallow. After all, just as I didn’t know Angie’s last name, I didn’t know Mr. Bolzner’s first.

On the other hand, they were part of a constant, persistent drip, drip, drip of modeling.

In contrast to self-identified models, parading shamelessly down a media sponsored catwalk, Angie and Mr. Bolzner, along with their milk deliveries and garbage pick-ups went about their business of subtly delivering an impactful message that was made, felt and mirrored.

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