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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Dirty Windshields, Squeegees, and Running Naked in Houston!

I ran across a homeless man cleaning windshields along I-45 on the North side of Houston a couple weeks ago. As he was squeegeeing my windshield he suddenly stopped having noticed a small sticker on the passenger side of the windscreen promoting my new book “Don’t Run Naked Through The Office” and exclaimed, “Wow, what’s that?!”

In the few seconds before the light changed, I explained to him that my new book provided guidance for people who were frustrated with their jobs. He surprised me with his sincere interest and the comment, “I’d like to read that!” My standard response kicked in, “It’s available on Amazon” to which he quickly glanced at his pile of belongings under the I-45 overpass. I got the message, “I’ll bring one by for you!” Just then the light changed and he nodded somewhat unconvincingly as he backed out of traffic.

This morning I made good on my offer to him as I stopped for the light at that same intersection. There he was with his half-smile, positive attitude, and ready to wash my windows! At first, I didn’t say anything as he was cleaning my windshield but then just like before he noticed the sticker and said, “Hey, I know you!” This time, I was prepared. I had a book in a plastic grocery bag wedged in beside the passenger seat waiting for him. “Here,” I said handing him the book. “I brought this for you.” He responded with surprise in his voice. “Thanks, man!” he exclaimed taking the book, “I mentioned this to my buddy.” Just then the light changed. “You’re welcome!” I told him. I’ll drop by again in a couple weeks. Would like to hear your thoughts after you’ve read it!” Someone behind me honked and so I moved on with the traffic.

All day, thoughts have been circling in my head. Where does he stay at night? Does he make enough cleaning windshields for a healthy meal? Does he have a family? Is he a vet with issues? Did he lose his job? Did he ever have a regular job? What path in life brought him to this intersection where he cleans windshields to survive another day?

 My book provides advice for people who are have a job or are looking for a job, not people who live under bridges. I explain the four types of workplace environments and how to navigate the challenges of each. I cover how to assess the risk of being proactive in a non-supportive workplace environment and the benefits of being self-managed in all environments. I lay out a clear process for refining a professional image and enhancing a professional foundation. I wondered if there were anything I had written in those pages that would be useful for him. Maybe back when he had a regular job, if he ever did, and the boss was yelling in his face about some inconsequential matter. But now, in his current situation, would he find anything that I had written of use?

I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again or if I’ll ever find out what he thinks of my book. I do know the cover and title caught his interest and even when I told him what the book was about he still wanted to read it. Part of me hopes he’s still under that bridge in a couple weeks, so I can hear what he learned from my book. And yet, another part hopes he’s found more suitable housing!

Your thoughts on this current and important topic are welcome!

Fred Stawitz

Coauthor of Don't Run Naked Through The Office

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