By Marion Filler
Eric “Fluffy” Glover’s shift at ShopRite in Cedar Knolls ended at 6 p.m. on Saturday. As he walked towards the parking lot, he got what surely was the second biggest surprise of his life.
He heard shouting and clapping — “Hooray! Hooray!” — and then saw it: A shiny red Ford Escape bedecked with balloons and a big red bow.
The first big surprise took place almost 10 years ago. That time it was a used bright red Cadillac for his 50th birthday, presented by the Dark Horse Lounge (now the Laundromat) where he was a bouncer.
Glover is a big man who made the most of his 300-plus pound body by referring to himself as being “fluffy,” not fat. The nickname stuck.
‘It’s a Wonderful Life, The Sequel’: Admirers give Fluffy another car; video by Marion Filler for MorristownGreen.com, Dec. 7, 2019:
Long known as the Ticket Taker Guy, beloved for his comedic ticket-punching routine at the Clearview Cinemas (now AMC Headquarters Plaza 10) in Morristown, Fluffy and his Caddy “Fluffmobile” were recognizable throughout town.
Now 58, Fluffy has experienced a rollercoaster ride through life that has included episodes of homelessness. When the theater let him go, he became a cause célèbre. His saga attracted TV coverage, and fans donated $66,000 online to get him through hard times.
Morristown never has forgotten him. The former Morristown High School football player simply makes people happy.
A small crowd braved Saturday’s wintry cold waiting to greet Fluffy in the supermarket parking lot. Coffee and cookies provided by ShopRite helped, but laughter and affection really warmed the bitter chill.
None of this would have happened if Alex Tholl, 26, hadn’t been at AutoZone one day and noticed Fluffy limping by on his bad knees.
“I grew up going to the movie theater in Morristown,” said Tholl. “Fluffy always put a huge smile on my face and anyone who does that for me really sticks in my head. He used to drive his Caddy around, everyone knew him, everyone waved to him.”
Alas, that Caddy has given up the ghost.
Tholl drove Fluffy home and took a look at his old 1991 Bronco — that had died, too. Seeing that it was beyond repair, Tholl understood that Fluffy needed help and posted his comment online.
“I got a lot of positive feedback, but also a lot of negative,” Tholl said. Some remarks were mean-spirited, “so I decided to just ask if anyone can come help me get Fluffy’s car running.”
The response was overwhelming, but an offer from Mike Hand was the clincher. The Hands had just bought a new car and still had their 2006 Ford Escape sitting in the driveway. They wanted to give it to Fluffy.
The Hand family – Mike, Carolyn, and Brendan, 12 – were waiting in the crowd.
“I just remember Fluffy from when I was a kid,” said Mike Hand, who realized the Escape was an easy fixer-upper compared to Fluffy’s old Bronco. “It was fortunate timing for everyone.”
“I think he’s going to love it,” said Brendan, as his father reminded him that both he and his brother had come home from the hospital in that SUV.
Tholl and his friend Tom Fulton received donations of brakes, spark plugs, a coil pack, rear wipers, tires, a battery, and more from people who cared to help.
They did the work themselves and ran computer diagnostics on the vehicle to make sure everything was working perfectly. Detailing inside and out was the last step.
“This was a grassroots effort,” said Justine Chapin, who worked with Melissa Spiotta to coordinate the event with ShopRite.
They got final approval just two days ago thanks to Amy Rozgony, marketing coordinator for ShopRite.
The company is donating a $25 gas gift card to Fluffy, and according to Rozgony, it’s not because he’s an employee, but because he’s a Morristown icon.
Nick Mancinelli, manager of perishables, described Fluffy as a great guy who has worked as a maintenance associate for two and a half years.
Pat Podell of Morristown is taking Fluffy to the Division of Motor Vehicles to help him register the car. She’ll also assist with setting up insurance and anything else he might need.
Lending Fluffy a hand. Video by Marion Filler for MorristownGreen.com, Dec. 7, 2019:
A passerby heard the name Fluffy and stopped to recall his kindness 30 years ago, when she worked late nights at Headquarters Plaza and he escorted her to the parking lot many times.
Fluffy Forever: Video by Marion Filler for MorristownGreen.com, Dec. 7, 2019:
And finally, there was Fluffy, a little stunned at first, yet thrilled.
“I’m mucho excited about this. Oh my God, it’s an honor. I like this,” he said.
Tholl told him about the Hand family and introduced him to everyone who had worked together to make it happen. Fluffy was thankful.
“Oh my God, am I happy!”