• StevenF

Inspired by The Sign Spinner

So on my way to work every day, I pass one of those sign spinners—you know, those men and women who companies hire to stand outside their place of business and spin a sign (typically an arrow with the company's logo or business info) to draw attention to the business. This particular sign spinner is advertising a furniture store. But every time I drive past him, he always catches my attention. I think the reason why is because he is so committed to doing a good job.

In my experience, I have seen sign spinners who are truly dedicated to what they are doing, spinning their signs with finesse and fun. And I have seen others who you can tell it's just a job to them—no particular joy present; just a way to earn a living.

I suppose it's that way with any job, really. For example, have you ever talked with an employee at a drive-thru window or interacted with a cashier or customer service rep who gave you the feeling they would rather be having a root canal than working that particular job? And I get it. Especially if that particular job is not something they feel passionate about or it's a job where they're doing the same exact thing every day, answering the same questions, dealing with the same challenges, it's easy to get complacent and apathetic. And if the environment or the company culture and atmosphere is not a pleasant one, it's also easy to get depressed or feel like one is in a soul-sucking situation.

And I think that's why this sign spinner inspires me so much—he's really into what he's doing and is giving it all. Now I have no idea what this guy's hours are or what his salary is, but I have a hunch he doesn't earn a massive amount per hour for standing in the same spot every day with nothing to do but spin his sign.

As I was looking up information about sign spinners for this post, I wondered how effective sign spinners even are at bringing in business. Apparently they are, and some who are really good at it can even make some decent money. But many are just making minimum wage or slightly more. One article I came across was titled "15 Ridiculous Jobs So Useless You Can't Believe They Exist." Can you imagine your job being described that way?

Now I don't know how this particular guy feels about his job. Does he hate it or does he genuinely enjoy what he's doing? Is it his desire to be a sign spinner for the rest of his life or is this just a stop on the way to bigger dreams? I honestly don't know. What I do know is that regardless of how he feels about it, how much he is making, or how long he has to stand there day after day in the hot or the cold, rain or shine, he is giving his best and giving his all, and that inspires me.

It reminds me of my job as an actor. It doesn't matter if I am sick, tired, or in a bad mood. If the character I am playing is required to exhibit a certain emotion or act a certain way, it does not matter how I personally am feeling. It's my job, and I give everything I have. I am reminded of actors I have worked with in the past who are bored or tired of the show they have been cast in and just "phone it in" or go through the motions on auto pilot. I would be lying if I didn't admit I have been guilty of that on occasion, but overall throughout my career, I have always tried to give the best performance I possibly can. It doesn't matter if I have said the same lines and performed the same character in the same show over and over for 100 performances; for the audience, it is their first time, and it is my job to act as though everything I am doing is the first time, too.

My acting skills have also proved valuable in the many jobs I have had working with the public, including my current one at Omega Mart in Las Vegas. How many times have I dealt with a challenging, difficult, or unhappy customer and had to pretend their behavior wasn't annoying or upsetting to me?

We each have a choice in what kind of attitude we will have in any given situation—in this case, a job—and we can choose how we will behave. I've worked jobs—even jobs I felt were fun and easy–and dealt with fellow employees who did little but complain and espouse negativity and apathy. And look, I get it. Some people are simply working where they work to earn a living or to provide themselves and their families healthcare. If a person is doing the same thing day after day and they don't feel fulfilled or happy doing it, especially in a company where they don't feel valued, it can be tough to push through, be positive, and give it one's all.

But if you're choosing to stay in a job that makes you feel the way, you either have the power to leave that job and find something more fulfilling or you can choose your attitude. Because here's the thing: no job, no relationship, no amount of money or supposed success will make you happy if you can't already find that within yourself. And that's what this sign spinner reminds of.

What's even more cool is that this sign spinner has no idea the effect he is having on me. And that's true of all of us. A kind word. A smile. A compliment. Treating some with value and respect. We truly have no idea how our actions and words, good or bad, will affect another person. And it goes both ways. The employee and the customer both have the same responsibility to choose their attitude. It's easy to get impatient or frustrated or angry. But I always try to keep the Golden Rule in mind, to treat others as I would want them to treat me. And it makes such a difference. When someone smiles or is kind to me, I am likely to do the same and hopefully, vice-versa. Think of how you feel when others are kind and compassionate to you. Doesn't it make sense to be the same?

As for me, I now look forward to seeing that sign spinner. I look for him now. That brief, five-or-so seconds interaction makes my day. What a power we have to possibly make someone's day better or worse simply by choosing attitudes and behaviors that make it so. I say, choose wisely.

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