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Columnists

Famed “Zip Code Man” of the Rockies Provides 2020 Coping Mechanisms

December 6, 2020

BOULDER, CO – “It's showtime!" bellowed David Rosdeitcher, aka The Zip Code Man, holding forth in his customary spot on teeming Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado. The pedestrian mall was chockablock with strollers that cut across all ages who browse the tea shops and purveyors of boutique Belgian chocolate. Gradually, curious passersby step out of pricey chocolate shops and tea houses to spy his act for the first time or the fiftieth. 

Cavorting merrily on the brick pavement in a tattered soiled yellow hoodie and weathered trousers that give him the look of a bricklayer after another day in the cement trenches, Rosdeitcher, 57, warms up the kids in the audience by fashioning colorful animal figures out of balloons. 

But don't you dare move. That's only his cold intro. For the first timers watching him, the sweeping outline of the map of the U.S. he formed on the pavement using chains dishes up enough of a clue to see why he's become a fixture there.

"Anybody here from outside Boulder?" he presses on, tugging at his T-shirt bearing his caricature and talking over the hundreds of college-age people in the next block celebrating the election of Joe Biden with the same fervor of a Super Bowl blowout. A hand goes up. "What's your Zip code?"

"11201," the spectator reels off, a look of doubt washing over his face. 

You can see the wheels turning in Rosdeitcher's mind, and they don't turn for long. "Brooklyn, New York!" is his educated guess, and it better be right because this is his stock in trade, his bread and butter. 

"That's awesome!" the participant exclaims. "How did you do that?"

The question goes unanswered, but Zip Code Man generously tosses in a solitary factoid: "There's a great pizza place there, Grimaldi's. It's one of my favorites."

"Anybody else? Okay, what's your Zip?"

"21044."

"You're from … Columbia, MD, between DC and Baltimore. You've got a famous restaurant called Phillip's. Been there forever. Best Maryland crab soup in the country."

Stunned, the man could only force three words from his lips:

"Oh, my God!" He represented the prevailing sentiment on this crisp November afternoon.  

For another 20 minutes, the quizmaster stays in character and in rhythm before surrendering to the revelers heralding a whiff of fresh air at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. "I'' be back tonight after the University of Colorado kids go home," he promises.

I have just enough time to find out who this guy is and how he became addicted to the national five-digit postal code. 

"I have a degree from Tulane in anthropology," comments the Bronx native, stuffing some of his worldly belongings in a blue duffel bag. "But I've always been interested in geography, in numbers."

He unveiled his act in the 80s, juggling in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Eventually, the incessant noise, grime, and empty rum bottles wore him down, especially those left in the wake of Mardi Gras. "So I came up here to Boulder," he shrugged. He added: "People describe Boulder as their second favorite place. But they don't have a first." 

As Rosdeitcher turned to walk away, stopping long enough to greet more well-wishers, a disembodied voice filled the brisk rugged air: "You're awesome!" The five-digit whiz waved in appreciation.

"Where you from?" he asked another well-wisher who tiptoed up from behind, obviously, not quite ready to pack it in just yet.

"Mountain Lakes, New Jersey!" he roared.

"07046."

"Wow! Love this guy!"

On an untethered planet that appears more than eager to destroy itself, where runaway identity politics and a macabre virus chills all 37 trillion cells in our bodies, we need someone like Rosdeitcher to infuse hope. To help us restore our equilibrium. 

If only until Inauguration Day. 

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