This morning, while driving through the town of Waltham, M.A., I happened to see what I thought was the perfect Instagram fodder: A man dressed in a foam Statue of Liberty costume standing out in the freezing cold all day long:
And by freezing cold, I mean nine degrees:
I was pretty pleased with myself. I had trouble deciding which sarcastic quip I would caption the photo with. And the more I thought about it, the more I felt that I really needed a better photo of him. I mean, if this was going to be the perfect snarky Instagram material I thought it would be, I really needed to capture the cold and the isolation and the sheer nuttiness that involves a man standing out in nine degree temperatures, in the snow, dressed as the Statue of Liberty to promote a tax preparation service:
I sat there in my warm truck holding up a camera phone trying to capture just how miserable this poor guy had to be in the cold, and something struck me... He didn't look miserable. He looked just fine. He was walking around smiling and waving, and he seemed pretty pleased overall with his situation in life.
So I decided, rather than simply assume that this guy is just some poor bastard with a crap job that would make some fine schlock for my social media feeds, how about I go and ask him about it?
That turned out to be even more interesting than I thought it would be. Richard and I had to communicate via Post-It notes because Richard is deaf:
Here is our conversation:
I would also find out from the owner of the business that when Richard applied and interviewed, he saw the video of what the job would entail, and was laughing and happy about the prospect. Richard is sweet and kind, and didn't strike me as anything other than a guy who is hard of hearing, who probably found it very difficult to find a job -- so he went fully-fledged into the one he got.
At the end, we shook hands and exchanged goodbyes. I asked if it would be okay to get a photo with him:
The owner of the business wasn't a very good photographer. This is the only one of seven different attempts that came out even remotely decent:
And so, this is Richard, who I am glad I stopped to meet:
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