Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Putting the Spark in Mr. Sparkle

Consider for a minute this man's job.  In a world full of menial and unfulfilling tasks, the sandwich board man's lot is not an enviable one. I would venture that he earns the minimum wage trying  to drive traffic to the car wash for whom he is the human billboard.  He spends hours spent every day on his feet, breathing exhaust fumes, his back probably aching, the straps cutting into his shoulders. And for what, $7 per hour maybe?    

Most people with this job would be detached from the task, mute, expressionless, mind anywhere but in the present, anywhere other than being sandwiched between two boards schlepping for a car wash.   We are accustomed to sullenness from people in such jobs. We expect disinterest from the cashier at the fast food restaurant.  We expect bad service and crappy attitudes and blank stares because that's how it is now. We know that the service industry's most glaring deficiency is in hiring people who care enough to give a damn.

But then there is Derald, the antithesis of the disinterested employee.

In your Lexington travels you no doubt have seen Derald posted at the intersection of Richmond and New Circle Roads.  And what you witnessed when you first saw him probably made you shake your head.  He is a perpetual motion machine, waving, gesticulating, pointing, and giving a thumbs up to every passing car.  His smile is as big as the sign he wears. He gets your attention even if you doubt his enthusiasm.

"Look at that crazy fool. He's got that crappy job and he is acting like he loves it. No one can be that happy doing that job," you most likely said to yourself.

If that's what you thought, you thought wrong. Derald is the real deal. He has been lighting up Lexington with his smile for years, so I am told.

More importantly, his attitude reinforces the notion that all work is honorable, regardless of the level of skill required to perform it.  In reminding us of this important truth, Derald has become something of a local celebrity. Lexington loves this guy because he takes pride in his work and the happiness he radiates makes us smile. It's pretty simple.

Check out this photo and caption from the car wash's Facebook page:
In a world of well-paid but ineffective celebrity pitchmen, Derald is low-cost marketing gold.  His photo  on the car wash's Facebook page has  garnered almost 4000 Likes. When he found out how many people appreciate his effort and attitude (left) he responded in kind (right).  How many of those thousands of people have gone to Mr. Sparkle expressly because of Derald? 
There is no resisting his smile. Eventually even the worst of us cynics joins the honking and waving chorus that lets him know each day that we appreciate his smile and enthusiasm. People love Derald and his message and I'm not referring to the message that he is paid to wear.
All work is honorable. It's an important message and it's the message that Derald imparts to us each day that he stands out there smiling, waving, and pointing at us as we drive by. Next time you need a car wash, head on over to Mr. Sparkle and tell them that Derald sent you.  That's what I do.