Of all the jobs I could not do, sign holding during construction season is one of them. I do not think I could stand in the same place all day without some level of engagement with other folks. Even if I could endure the isolation, I couldn’t just stand there. I would need to dance or sing or put on a one woman show…something more than just standing there.
The other day I saw a local news story about panhandlers. They too stand around all day with a sign, but it isn’t a job. Well, at least it isn’t the type of job most folks would consider work. I have read in the past that many of the area panhandlers choose it over a real job because they can make more money over a short period of time on a corner with a cardboard sign.
But I was thinking as I drove past a construction sign holder down by NDSU last week – why don’t the construction companies (who pay a fairly decent wage for sign holders) solicit panhandlers to be their sign holders? They have the skills to hold signs and the ability to just hang out in a high traffic area without any real interaction. It seems like a match made in heaven to me. The ripple effect of these job placements would be less panhandlers on the streets, which means less law enforcement burdens and less “donations” out of folks’ pockets to subsidize the panhandlers’ activities.
Plus, former panhandlers that transition to construction sign holders become part of the taxpayer base that helps fund city infrastructure. They can become role models for other panhandlers and get back to doing an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. I love this idea!
I challenge all the construction companies out there with sign holder positions to make a concerted effort each and every time they see a panhandler to offer them a different sign and a different life. While not every panhandler will graciously accept such an offer, a few just might. In my estimation, that is what we should be giving panhandlers – another chance at a self-sustained life. It is like the old proverb about the man and the fish:
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Well, except that what you are giving is a construction sign as opposed to $5, but you get the gist of it – build and enable capability.
Day one thousand four hundred and forty-one of the new forty – obla di obla da