Flickr Photo: (Dustin Diaz)
Monday: “Streetwise? Have a Nice Day!”
Tuesday: “Streetwise? Have a Nice Day!”
Wednesday: “Streetwise? Have a Nice Day!”
Thursday: “Streetwise? Have a Nice Day!”
Friday: “Streetwise? Have a Nice Day!”
Saturday: “Streetwise? Have a Nice Day!”
Sunday: “Streetwise? Have a Nice Day!”
I walk past a newspaper vendor every single day. I suspect he is homeless as he is hawking Streetwise, a magazine for impoverished men and women to sell for profit through becoming a vendor.
He stands at the ideal corner, which happens to be the intersection of three busy Chicago streets, the entrance to the “L” platform (Chicago’s subway train) and directly in front of Starbucks. Hundreds, if not, thousands of people pass by the vendor every day.
He’s dramatically improved his physical appearance recently, to the point where I only recognized him by his voice. He used to look like a cross between a pirate and a motorcycle gang-leader, with long brown hair and a full beard. With short hair and a trimmed mustache, he now looks more like the construction worker from the Village People.
After a year of walking past the man, I have never seen a single person buy a magazine, buy him a coffee from the adjacent Starbucks or give him any change. My only point of reference that he might actually sell the magazines is when I saw him unloading a huge stack of them from a mini van in the early morning and that he has looked healthier lately.
Regardless of my perception, he persists.
He persists through the harsh Chicago weather: torrential thunderstorms (or thunderf*cks as I like to call them as they pretty much destroy you, your clothes and your umbrella), blizzards, 100 degree heat, -10 degree wind chills and anything in between.
He persists through the painful and endless noise, not to mention the air pollution, from cars, trucks, buses and trains.
He persists through the potential hazards of huge dogs biting him, baby strollers running over him and hipster bikes running into him.
Worst of all, he persists through the mental anguish of seeing the same morning rush of commuters religiously drop $5 at Starbucks on their way to the train every single day. The same group of people who barely acknowledge his existence with a “no thanks” while trying to avoid eye contact.
Amazingly enough, he persists: “Streetwise? Have a Nice Day!”
He even switches his message up for the weekend: “Streetwise? Have a Wonderful and Blessed Weekend!”
Or even the holidays: “Streetwise? Have a Blessed New Year!”
I don’t know how he does it. I thought I suffered cold-calling 50-100 people per day in my previous role as a commercial real estate broker. At the time, I thought that I tried as hard as I could and persisted as much as I could day in and day out.
Upon reflection, and when compared to a less fortunate individual’s daily struggle, I realize I can ALWAYS try harder and persist even more.
All us can.