Whenever I take this particular route to work, I always see this man handing out flyers to passersby. Actually, it isn’t very difficult to take notice of him. Rain or shine, he wears a long-sleeved shirt tucked into a pair of pants that are held up by a black belt. His feet are safely ensconced in thick-soled shoes, the kind you wear to a construction site. Most of the time he wears sunglasses, and he always totes a plastic envelope, which, I assume, contains the flyers he has prepared for the day.
I’ve never taken a flyer because I was never curious enough to know what product or service he’s peddling. Some passersby, though, eagerly accept the little paper this man thrusts towards them. And with that I wonder: how many people in a day willingly pocket his flyers and how many turn him down?
Unless I stop and ask what goes through his mind, I can only wonder what meaning he finds in this daily routine of being acknowledged and rejected. Perhaps he has a family to feed and that’s the only work he could find at the moment: to hand out flyers. Or maybe he wants the flexibility of having a job, but not being cooped up in the office all day. Or maybe, regardless of the monotony and people’s reactions, he finds pure contentment and meaning in giving hope – through a product, job, service, loan – through that little slip of paper.
“So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” – Morrie Schwartz
Have you a similar character you would like to write about?
First published: 13 January 2012