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Signs of the Times

Drive around any major city and you will come face to face with the live drama being performed by a regular street cast holding forth at intersections where there is heavy traffic.  In their hands is a cardboard sign portraying a tragic story to the streaming audience of motorists.  Some of the signs say, “I’m hungry,” some say things like, “I need surgery,” or, “I have cancer.” And some just say, “Please help.”

I was driving toward the intersection at Kirby and Highway 59, when I saw a clean-cut, middle-age man with mixed gray hair walking toward the line of cars slowing for the traffic light.  He was neatly dressed in a white shirt, dark slacks, and business shoes.  In his right hand was an unexpected object: a cardboard sign that looked like all the other cardboard signs I had seen, which belied his head-to-toe appearance.  As he neared my car, I could read what his sign said: “Will work.  Have resume.”  And sure enough, he did.  In fact, his left hand clutched a mass of resumes which he waved—no, make that offered, to anyone who would accept his three-page employment history.   This guy was serious about getting a job.  No doubt he was once a part of the audience of motorists stopped at a traffic light, distracted by thoughts of work and the cardboard signs asking for help.

I was impressed with him—impressed that he would step out on the curb and raise the concept of “cold call” to a whole new level.  When I looked at what he was doing, I thought, “Signs of the times.”  He should have been an ideal candidate for a headhunter.  Perhaps he spent all he had trying to make ends meet, and searching for work in more conventional ways.  It costs money to job search. So what do you do when you’re flat broke but you have to keep going, when you’ve knocked on every door you can think of hoping for an opportunity to do what you’ve done so well for years – the thing you have perfected over time that is now fodder for phase out?  I guess you take your case where others compete for an outstretched hand: you take it to the streets, dressed for success, with a resume ready for the taking.
I stretched out my hand and took his resume.  And though I didn’t have a job to offer him, I was meeting someone who might.  I sure hope so.

Visit Help The Homeless Houston for ways to offer help and hope to the hungry and hurting.

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