“Continue to take care of each other,” he told the crowd, “and smile when you think of me."
A day later, it seemed the entire internet was smiling and thinking of him. “Mr. Floyd” became a trending topic after hundreds of thousands of people shared a Twitter thread telling his story.
Actor Patton Oswalt was among them:
As was actress Alyssa Milano:
And CNN’s Jake Tapper:
And NBC’s Willie Geist:
Neighbors launched a Go Fund Me campaign hoping to raise $5,000 to help Martin realize his dream of vacationing in Hawaii. It's raised more than $25,000, but Floyd can use those donations for other needs during his retirement. Delta Air Lines is taking care of the flight.
I called Floyd the day after his big sendoff to see how his first day off the clock was going.
"I haven't learned to sleep in yet," he said. "I'm still on such a high from yesterday."
Then I let him know about Delta, the celebrities tweeting about him, and a slew of reporters wanting to talk with him.
"What? Oh, my God," he said, stunned. "This is all unbelievable."
Channel 2 Action News was the first broadcaster to share Floyd's story. The AJC's corporate cousin aired a piece just hours after the Thursday night block party and followed up with a second piece about the successful Go Fund Me campaign the next day.
By Friday morning, I'd heard from journalists at CNN, Fox News, The Washington Post, NBC, ABC World News Tonight, Reuters, Inside Edition, People, Mother Jones and elsewhere, interested in pursuing stories. With his OK, I helped those who wanted to interview him get in touch. Here's the latest, from NBC's Today Show:
CNN International has shared the story and CBC/Radio-Canada is working on one as well.
Some outlets, like MSNBC and the Mel Robbins Show, pulled together quick pieces using my photos (with attribution, after requesting and receiving permission to do so, which is standard industry practice). Some, like Yahoo and The Week, posted aggregated pieces with content and photos embedded from the Twitter thread (also a common practice).
A few, like BuzzFeed News and WGCL, did their own reporting.
“I can’t believe all this is happening,” Martin said.
I can. Coverage of political rancor, international tension, natural disasters, violence and tragedy dominates just about any news cycle. People everywhere ache for a bit of good news once in a while.
"What a great thread, I was smiling all the way reading it," Freddie E. Tobar messaged from Panama.
"I'm not quite sure why but it's reduced me to some tears on my lunch break at work," Tom Adams of Northampton, about 60 miles northwest of London, told me in a message. One of his countrymen checked in say Floyd is all the talk across the pond:
Another reader posted from India:
Someone posted this from the Netherlands:
Here’s one from Canada:
And Australia (interesting how this and the one above use similar words to reference the type of news they’re used to reading from America):
And one from Belgium:
And the Czech Republic:
Back home, Floyd has people crying happy tears.
I’m hearing from some of my neighbors, too. Here’s a great photo of Mr. Floyd in action!
When I called Floyd the other day to see how the day was going his phone went to voicemail; I hope he was either packing for Hawaii or getting ready for another nationally televised interview.
Regardless, we'll all see him again in October. Sooner than that, probably, but he's invited to be a celebrity costume judge at Marietta's annual Halloween parade.
“I’ll be back,” he has promised his people on his route, the customers who became family. “Y’all are my life.”