Soto got the shot of his friend posing with a smiling hero and bid him farewell with a heartfelt, “Keep America safe!” Ramsey could barely take two steps before he was spun around to pose with a D.C. cop on a Segway.
It was day five of Ramsey’s moment, and he had already morphed from hero to celebrity. Here he was in Washington, flown in, along with his instant entourage of three young brothers — his neighbors and friends — and their tough-guy uncle, by boxing promoter and radio talk host Rock Newman, for a 14-hour visit that started with two bites of a chili half-smoke at Ben’s and continued with a private tour of the presidential yacht, the Sequoia; dinner at a bordello-red burlesque place; a visit to a club; a couple of hours of shut-eye at a hotel at National Harbor; and an appearance on Newman’s Saturday morning radio show.
Then back to the airport and home to Cleveland, where more madness awaits.
As does his dishwashing job at Hodge’s Restaurant, where he intends to report at 4 p.m. Monday despite a crazed week in which he told his story over and over to the likes of Anderson Cooper and George Stephanopoulos, a slew of FBI agents and random passersby.
Ramsey was cool with well-wishers on the street, comfortable bantering with executives on the presidential yacht, charming and funny on Newman’s show, yet clearly anxious about getting back to dishwashing Monday.
“I work for a living, man, and I will until I’m terminated,” he said. “I was suspended from work, so I gotta show. I live up to my obligation.”
Ramsey, who is 43, was at work a couple of weeks ago when he leaned over and a couple of rounds of ammo from an AK-47 dropped out of his pocket. He didn’t have any weapon; the rounds were souvenirs, gifts from a friend who had just returned from serving in Afghanistan, but his boss didn’t want anything like that in his place and sent Ramsey home.
The punishment was painful — losing a $269 weekly paycheck was a significant setback — but ultimately fortuitous, because, as Ramsey said, “If I hadn’t been suspended, I wouldn’t have been at home to hear the scream.”
Amanda Berry’s first shout for help, which Ramsey heard as he ate a Big Mac in his living room next door, “was a scream you never heard before,” he said on Newman’s show. Ramsey found the woman locked behind a screen door that wouldn’t open. He tried to open it with one hand, pulling as she pushed.
“I’m debating to put the Big Mac down or finish my sandwich,” he said. “I’m not letting go because I just bought it. I couldn’t figure out why she was freaking out.” Finally, he put the burger down, pulled with two hands and then kicked out the bottom panel of the door, springing Berry.