I observed a group of people forming up at the Lakewood Towne Center across from Five Guys Burgers and Fries. They were putting on look-a-like green protester shirts, dragging out protester banners, waiving protester stake signs while warming up their protester voices in preparation for yelling at the innocent public passing by their location. Pushing them into a frenzy was a protester screaming into a bullhorn. The scene reminded me of one of those 1940s Adolf Hitler moments often depicted in old newsreels.
The crowd, revving themselves into an agitated state, moved across the parking lot and congregated on the lawn and sidewalk near the back entrance of the mall.
I did not observe any bad behavior other than their brain dead no-decision decision to block the sidewalk for public use. I do not think they meant to create a pedestrian hazard, but they did. We have a lot of people on the planet who fail to identify or consider the consequences of their poor decisions and actions. The news is full of people who when failing to consider the possibility of unintended consequences, end up becoming a victim or worse yet, victimize others.
The potential for injury or death was obvious to me. Anyone attempting to use the sidewalk might easily feel forced to step into the street in an effort to move around the loud, frantic and intimidating protester blockade. Once an innocent citizen is forced off the sidewalk, the citizen is in the vehicle kill zone. Before you think I have an over active imagination, allow me to remind you that I spent over 20 years assisting with death and injury investigations. Many of these deaths and injuries were obviously unnecessary.
Sidewalks are designed for baby strollers, wheel chairs and pedestrians including kids and senior citizens. Sidewalks are not designed for protester blockades.
The green-shirt group began yelling something like, “We want jobs now. We want $15.00 an hour now. We want $15.00 hour jobs now.”
To me the green shirts demonstrate two things, freedom of speech and freedom to fail.
I realize free speech includes the right to gather in public space, the right to say what you want, the right to protest, and finally the right to make verbal demands while waiving protest signs.
These rights are one of the things that make America a good place to live. In some countries the authorities will haul you off to jail for such behavior. In fact if I was not living in America, I might not have the freedom to say what I am going to say next.
When I was unemployed, the first thing I did was launch a full-time 40 hour a week effort to find a job. I would actually go out and talk to employers and apply for jobs rather than standing around protesting.
In 1959 when I got my first job, I was paid $1.25 per hour, which was minimum wage.
What I did next must be rocket science because I see a good many people who do not follow my lead. I did two things to advance beyond my minimum wage job. Neither of my two actions included protesting.
Number one, I secured advance education in order to prepare for better and higher paying jobs.
Number two, I consistently promoted to higher levels of responsibility and pay by doing something a good number of Americans fail to do. I showed up for work early, not late. I made an effort to learn about my employer’s business in order to become a more valuable employee. I managed my personal appearance which included grooming, clothing, shoes, and the way I wore my clothing.
When applying for a job, we do not get a second chance to make a first impression. Had I chosen to sag my pants, wear my hat backwards, let my underwear hang out or had I attempted to dazzle my prospective employer with tattoos or body piercings, I am confident store manager Jerry Lyskowski would not have given me my first minimum wage job. What I did instead was meet my employer’s expectations and more importantly I met my employer’s customers’ expectations regarding appearance.
It was not long before my employer volunteered, I say volunteered, to pay me more than minimum wage. As my job assignments improved eventually I was making $5.75 per hour.
I never thought to myself, ”This is a minimum wage job so I am going to only make a minimum effort.” I thought instead, “My minimum wage job is an opportunity to grow and improve so I can land a better paying job.”
While the green-shirt protesters and I are similar in that we both want or wanted a job and more money, we implemented two different approaches in our effort to reach our goals.
I am not bragging with all this rhetoric. I am simply suggesting any individual can be more successful if they can shed four crippling attitudes that prevent large blocks of Americans from making economic progress. Crippling attitude number one is “The world owes me a living.” Crippling attitude number two is “I am entitled to have everything handed to me”. Crippling attitude number three is, “My appearance is my business, not my prospective employer’s.” Crippling attitude number four is, “What is the least amount of work I have to do and still gouge my employer for a paycheck?”
My message to the underemployed and unemployed in America is get rid of your destructive attitudes and then put energy behind getting a good job and once accomplished, grow your future and income based on a foundation of solid work and solid education.
You may not agree, but that is the way Joe Boyle sees it.