Thursday, February 18, 2010

I Am A Dancing Clown

A man danced on the sidewalk along a busy city street dressed in a green robe too cheaply made to be described as flowing, a green crown made of foam with spires pointing straight out from his head, and a green torch held high in his left hand. Ratty sneakers and black plastic sunglasses did not necessarily complete the look but there was no mistaking his intent to look like the Statue of Liberty.

He waved at the cars as we zoomed passed, most of the motorists oblivious to or ignoring him. I waved back because I felt sorry for the guy. As a salesman, I deal with a healthy amount of rejection every week. This poor fellow was averaging one rejection every 1.2 seconds at high speeds. Come on, people, throw him a little love! He has a plastic torch in his hand, not a gun. All he's there to do is hold his little advertisement and wish you a pleasant day. Plus, you're going by at 45 miles per hour. Would it kill you to wave at him?

Think of him as subsidized entertainment -- a dancing clown paid to spread a little cheer. You wave back to the clowns at the circus when they goof and joke and pratfall for your entertainment don't you? This guy serves the same purpose as a circus clown, only you don't have to pay $29.50 a seat to watch him do his thing. He's got to be regretting the life choices that brought him to this level of employment, so wave at him, already! He probably needs it more than you do.

I also waved back, in part, because waving is fun. It's good for the soul. People don't seem to exchange greetings with passing strangers any more apart from a grunted "Hey" or a mumbled "How are you?" It's like we are embarrassed to acknowledge one another.

I like waving. When someone waves at me and I go by too quickly to return the wave, I feel bad about it. When I wave at people and they miss it, I feel sorry for them. When I wave at someone and they intentionally don't wave back? Well, just see if I give THAT guy another wave! Actually, I probably will. What can I say? I'm a sucker for waving.

So, on that sunny yet cool morning, I waved and went about my day which involved shuttling lunch to an office of 100 people and presenting to them the benefits of doing business with my employer. After arriving and scoping out the space we had to work with, leaving my boss behind to set up the slide show and sodas, I left to pick up the food. Trouble was, picking up the food meant finding a way to squeeze five five-foot subs into my two-door Toyota Echo.

By the time I had the chips, cookies platters, vegetables, condiments, ice, plates, cups, napkins and twenty-five feet of subs crammed in, there was little room left for me. With the driver's seat pulled as far forward as possible without forcing my face into the windshield, I putted slowly back to my client's office.

Along the way I passed the same spot where the Statue of Liberty was still dancing and waving. When he saw my car, packed to bursting and moving slow so as not to topple any of the precariously placed items, he raised his cheap sunglasses and stared in disbelief. Much as I had likely done earlier, he saw, he considered, smiled weakly and waved sympathetically at me in my little clown car.

I can only imagine his thought process. Chances are he was wondering if I was regretting the life choices I had made that had led me to that point...

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