He has breakfast at 2 a.m. because Johnny Barnes, aka Mr. Happy Man, has work to do. From 4 to 10 a.m., he greets commuters as they drive by on their way to work.
For years he worked as an electrician on the Bermuda railway and drove buses. When he retired, he still wanted to feel useful. So he positions himself on a patch of grass next to a roundabout that leads into Hamilton, Bermuda’s largest city. He smiles and waves at every single person who passes by. He tells them he loves them – and means it.
In the Matt Morris’s short documentary, he says:
I’m just little Johnny Barnes. I’m just a little, small instrument in the hand of God to be used any way he feels fit. What I do every day, 2:00 in the morning I’m getting my breakfast. You’re still sleeping [he tells the interviewer], I guess.
From 20 to four until ten I stand on the corner and just greet people, let ‘em know that life is sweet, life is beautiful. No matter what happens in life, it’s always sweet to be alive.
No matter the weather, he is there Monday to Friday, spreading love. On the rare occasion he is not there, people call the radio station to see if he is OK.
He was 88 when the film was posted in 2012. Every day he was spreading love, straight from his generous heart.
So well known and beloved is Barnes the city of Hamilton erected a statue in his honour. The figure wears the same full beard and straw hat that are Barnes’s trademarks. So even when the day comes for the real Johnny Barnes to pass from this life, his smile and his memory will still be at that corner, spreading love to every passerby.