|Posted on April 24, 2010 at 9:22 PM|
While it has been described as being both “three sizes too small” and “cold and black” my heart has *yet* to be called “less.” Growing up outside of San Francisco and Berkeley – where you would literally have to step over young, able-bodied people asking for “a little change, man?” or where people try and take the food off your plate while you’re still eating – it is impossible NOT to become a little calloused to people pan-handling.
Look, I understand; this economy sucks. Many, MANY people have legitimately lost their jobs, their homes, their savings, their everything through no fault of their own. It’s awful, and it sucks. And I truly feel for these people, and for them I’m glad that government assistance programs and shelters and every other opportunity exists. And I’m absolutely sympathetic to those people that are in *real* need.
However, at the same time I have a really difficult time buying into the fact that standing outside a Wal-Mart all day with a sign asking for help is the best way to go or even the best use of a person’s time. Or that some of these aren’t just people trying to capitalize on good will at a time that many are feeling like digging deep into their pocketbooks to help out. Now, I’m a very Type-A personality. (As in both Type “Awesome” and Type “Ass.”) So, I have a hard time understanding why someone wouldn’t be just WAY more proactive in these circumstances, doing *whatever* it took to turn things around. Anything. Going to Home Depot or Lowe’s and asking people to mow their lawns for $20. Going around asking people to wash their cars for $10. Or going to managers at fast food restaurants and offering to sweep the parking lot in exchange for food they are going to throw away. (Or making that guy at the Piggly Wiggly hand over that sausage. You know it wasn’t no ET, man!) I think that people would be a lot more willing to exchange cash for a service provided instead of just, “I read your sign; here’s some money.” Between Custom Theater and writing, I work two jobs already and I don’t even have to; I do it because I *want* to. (Not to mention this little labor of love you are reading right now. I give, because I love.)
So, I can’t understand people like this young guy, probably mid-20s, we passed the other day holding a sign that said, “Single parent, out of work.” OK. Really? You’re a young single parent, so where did you drop off the kids while you decided to spend the day standing around with a sign and a giant soda? I guess the problem is that I just don’t believe a lot of these people. Call me jaded. (Go ahead; I’ve been called *lots* worse.)
However, “consulting” is in my nature. I can’t help observing other people’s businesses or just their daily lives and thinking of ways that they could do whatever it is they’re doing better. Ways to streamline or maximize their processes, eliminate excess costs, whatever. It’s a gift. (Or a curse if you happen to be forced to be around me all of the time like Dana.) So, today, when I passed another group of people standing outside our Wal-Mart with “Out of work. Anything will help” and “Homeless. God Bless!” messages, I thought about what they *should* write on their signs. As in, if I were holding that sign, what would I write on it for maximum effect?
OK. So be honest. When you pass someone holding a cardboard sign, you’re thinking, “Why aren’t you out trying to get a real job?” Right? I’m especially thinking this since the corner where these people are standing is within .1 mile of a Wal-Mart – probably one of the largest employers in the entire country – an Arby’s, a Wendy’s, a Subway, a Chick-Fil-A, a Sonic, two gas stations, and the usual cluster of small shops and businesses that orbit the Wal-Mart galaxy.
So, here is the perfect sign, “I’m not lazy. I’ve applied at Wal-Mart and others. No one is hiring. I’d prefer a job, but I’ll accept your money. Thank you.”
There. You just gave me a couple of bucks. And we both feel good about it. Thanks!
If you need any consulting on your business, just ask. I’m always here. I know. It’s a gift.