Scott Shaw / The Plain Dealer / Landov
Charles Ramsey talks to members of the media as well-wishers congratulate him in Cleveland on Monday.
Chuck Norris has nothing on Chuck Ramsey.
The Cleveland dishwasher kicked in a door to rescue a woman held captive for a decade — and then charmed his way into America's heart with his colorful candor.
Twitter spawned a #chuckramsey hashtag, and musical remixes of his enthusiastic TV interviews were cropping up on YouTube. Actress Mia Farrow and comedian Patton Oswalt proclaimed themselves fans.
In a Tuesday interview with NBC station WKYC-TV, Ramsey shrugged off the "hero" label, but said he knew one thing about himself.
"I'm the definition of a man, bro," he said.
Ramsey lives on Seymour Avenue near the house where police say Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were held against their will by former bus driver Ariel Castro and his brothers Pedro and Onil.
Although he's a fan of McDonald's — he name-checked the fast-food giant several times in interviews, and they tweeted that they'll "be in touch" — Ramsey has worked in more upscale restaurants in recent years.
Charles Ramsey describes how he helped several women escape from the home of his neighbor, a man who apparently held three Cleveland women captive for nearly a decade.
"He was fantastic, always upbeat, always willing to help," said Peter D'Amato, general manager of Moxie in Beachwood, Ohio. "He was a fun guy who played basketball with the crew on his days off."
The "jack-of-all-trades" left Moxie's in 2007 to work for a restaurant and bakery co-owned by William Davis, who recalled how he helped him move house and was always lending a hand to the charity thrift shop next door.
He also remembered the unfiltered story-telling that Ramsey put on display after the rescue. "Actually, we were amazed at how censored he was in the TV interview," Davis laughed.
When his eatery closed, Ramsey wound up at Hodge's, where the owner said he could handle any kitchen crisis.
"He's calm in the face of crazy and hectic things going on," Chris Hodgson told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Crazy and hectic would certainly describe the events of Monday night on Seymour Avenue, when Berry made her break for freedom, interrupting Ramsey's meal of McDonald's takeout.
"This girl is kicking the door and screaming," he told WKYC-TV.
"So I go over there ... and I say, 'Can I help? What’s going on?' And she says, 'I’ve been kidnapped, and I’ve been in this house a long time. I want to leave right now.'"
Ramsey said he helped her kick in the door so she could climb out with her child, and then he called 911.
"Hey bro, check this out," he told the dispatcher, referring to Berry as "this broad" and dropping a bunch of profanities along the way.
Tony Dejak / AP
A daring escape and a dramatic 911 call led to the rescue of three women who allegedly had been held captive for years inside a home in Cleveland, Ohio.
As he tried to explain the bizarre situation to the uncomprehending operator, Ramsey seemed to run out of patience. And when the dispatcher suggested he had provided the incorrect address, Ramsey bristled.
"I'm smarter than that, bro!" he retorted.
After the police arrived and whisked away Berry and the other two women, Ramsey told his story over and over to the media, the blow-by-blow paired with some deductive reasoning and a primer on race relations.
"Bro, I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man's arms," he told a reporter at the scene.
"Something's wrong here. Dead giveaway. Dead giveaway. Dead giveaway. Either she's homeless or she's got problems. That's the only reason she run to a black man."
Dear Charles Ramsey: I am not a little pretty white girl, but I totally want to run into your black arms. #hero— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) May 7, 2013
The next day, Ramsey reflected that he didn't have much choice but to get involved, because that's how he was raised.
"My father would have whupped the hell out of me if I cowered out," he said.
He only wishes he had the opportunity to act sooner, making somewhat ominous references to a coroner and white sheets.
"We would have handled that, bro," he told WKYC.
With the clock still ticking on his 15 minutes, Ramsey said he was coping well with his newfound fame, rankled only by one piece of unfinished business with his neighbor, Ariel Castro.
"I wanna get my hands on him," he said. "And then I’ll be all right."
This story was originally published on Tue May 7, 2013 4:10 PM EDT