I’ve been wondering what it would be like to stand on the side of a street and hold a cardboard sign for some time. In my head, the sign always had a positive motif like at the beginning of each episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and it would make some people smile or nod philosophically. That’s been a vision of mine for a few years now.
Today I found myself unpacking into a new place and found that I had some cardboard, markers, and free time. That’s the story of how I found myself standing on the side of a street and holding a cardboard sign as traffic zoomed past me. The hour I spent out there was something else and I’ll definitely be doing it again.
Walking over to the intersection holding my small piece of cardboard, stained with my amateurish attempts to write in large font, was a bit apprehensive. The absurdity of what I was doing started to dawn on me and the bravery I had accumulated in the privacy of my home started to deteriorate. My destination was close though so I arrived too quickly for my resolve to break. Then came the decision of where to stand. They don’t teach you that in business school. Having chosen my corner of the intersection – strategically chosen such that passing drivers wouldn’t mistake me for a panhandler but still be within eyesight of my sign – I began the daunting task of standing in one place while holding a piece of cardboard.
For the first ten minutes I began to sympathize with panhandlers who must see hundreds of vehicles pass by them without giving them a second look. It’s definitely a bit demoralizing to be completely disregarded like that but ultimately I’m the guy on the side of the road and they’re the people coming home from work so maybe it’s a fair shake.
After that though, I think I got over the stigma of being a weird guy on the side of the road and got a lot more into it. The next 50 minutes people honked, waved, through peace signs, and even yelled (nice things) through their windows. Though the day peaked when a couple of folks came over and said they pulled a U-turn just to chat with me. One person even bought me a card to thank me for “making positivity louder.”
So Krisi from Travelers: Thank you! I’m stoked that I received some positive reinforcement for an old idea.