Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Invasion Of The Stick People

Image swiped from ExplodingDog.com

Maybe it's only in San Antonio, but I've noticed an increasing number of stick people. This was a phenomenon I first became aware of a few years ago when the largest homebuilder on earth moved into our neighborhood and decided to surround us with starter homes or homes for people who are pretty much finished, depending on your point of view.

The builder put up the usual signs directing people to model homes, but down the street at the only intersection that might qualify as busy in our immediate area; the company hired an older kid to stand with a sign shaped like an arrow pointing to the development.

He stood there for 8 hours a day...holding a sign.

He didn't dance. He didn't smile or wave. He might occasionally motion the sign back and forth, but most of the time he'd simply stand there with the arrow pointing our way as traffic and life passed him by.

It's a job that could be done by a stick:

Help Wanted- Stick
Job requirement - hold up sign.

It would seem more humane to insist that it be a job that only sticks are allowed to do.

How do you apply for such a position?

"Well, I can stand and hold something; I really have no ambition to move at all, but I do kind of like watching cars go by."

Admittedly, when I saw my first stick person I thought, "Hmmm, it's probably the son of someone who knows someone and they're giving him 6 bucks an hour in a make work position."

But there were a variety of stick people holding that sign over the years (they're still building all around us). I also thought, "Maybe this is something for down on your luck folks, or people with disabilities," but most of the stick people certainly appear to be fully capable of any number of jobs which have to be far less boring. They all appear to be able to move, they've simply chosen not to...it's like they've devolved...into lumber.

It's not easy work. This is South Texas. It's hot. It's hot a lot. People here don't simply stand in the sun all day motionless....at least people with the brains God gave wood.

That may be unfair...to wood. Heck the trees grow leaves and put down roots to suck up the coolness from the earth below. Most of these stick people stand on cement with no shade around.

I've seen people doing this same job for a variety of firms now. Down the road there is a shopping center which regularly has people standing out front holding up signs that say, "Sale." I'm not talking fanatical people wildly waving you in with giant smiles on their faces or dressed up like hotdogs or clowns...I mean people who stake out a place on the sidewalk and hold a sign. I mistook them for picketers the first few times I saw them, but I couldn't imagine who'd go on strike against The Dollar Store. Plus, picketers usually move, demonstrate some passion; they're sticks with a cause at the very least.

Why not put the sign on a pole? It seems like for what you'd have to pay someone to hold a sign all day for weeks and weeks on end you could buy a really nice flashing sign, with colored lights.

I'm sorry...I'm missing something. There's nothing I understand about the stick people phenomenon...not in the doing or the hiring.

I've had some crappy jobs in my life (selling Christmas cards door to door in the deep August heat of Dallas ranks at the top by the way), but standing still holding a sign....being a stick...I don't get it.

Where do you go from such a job?

"Well, I see here on your résumé they say at your last position you did a stand up job.

Um...what exactly does that mean?"