The Sign Man

Decades ago, when I had just moved to the suburbs of Atlanta, I went out one evening for a ride on my motorcycle.

After a bit, I stopped at the bar of a local restaurant for a beer. There weren’t many folks at the bar. I struck up a conversation with a man who I recall was the only other person at the bar.

After a bit, I asked the man what he did for a living.

“I am a sign man”, he said.

“Oh, you make signs?”, I asked.

“No”, he replied, “I hold a sign at an exit off I-85 that says ‘will work for food'”.

“Really”, I replied, “How much money do you make doing that?”

“Usually around $200 a day” was his response.

This totally changed my perspective regarding people holding signs a soliciting money. I was working a 40 hour week doing software development, and this guy was making almost as much as I was by panhandling at expressway exits!

I don’t hand money to people panhandling at expressway exists anymore. And rarely to panhandlers under any other circumstance.