Just minutes ago we got a text from a friend on lunch break, informing us of neatly dressed man briskly walking down Milam armed with a posterboard that read "I Need a Job." He gave us no other clues to go on but when one hears about someone meandering around downtown carrying a sign, we will always have visions of apocalyptic warnings or horrific military tales.
Naturally we had to rush down to the street like so many children rushing down the staircase on Christmas morning. The anticipation of meeting a person in the blazing summer heat, who was tempered in God's Texas Oven with the stress of unemployment and despair, was too much to handle. We awkwardly hoped for some sort of crazed meth-casualty who found a three-piece suit and a rusty Lady Bic. Or at least some sort of Flash Mob business.
What we got was a kind gentleman named Bert in a gray suit with a messenger bag. He reminded us of Michael J. Fox's character in The Secret of My Success, albeit after a few decades of corporate pugilism. He gave us a limited back-story as walked beside him for two blocks. He has a background in the paralegal field, formerly worked for the defunct Public News, and is now working in retail. (Note: We've left a Facebook message for former PN publisher Bert Woodall -- who looks nothing like Michael J. Fox young or old -- but he hasn't gotten back to us. Hmmmm.) The guy wore a ring, so he must also be married.
He spoke of having a resume, and even claimed to have given one out minutes before. He would not give us a copy, nor would he have his picture taken. We would like to think we here at Hair Balls have a sympathetic audience who would love to hire a married man with useful office skills. When we asked him for just a quick picture of the sign, or at least a photo of him from behind, he stated he "knew the legal ramifications".
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So let's get this straight: you make it your days work to walk down a busy street in the fourth-largest city in America, looking for a job, yet a dude from a newspaper asks you to tell him your story and possibly find you job leads in this wickedly brutal job market?
When asked how far he planned to amble and to where, he replied "Until I get mugged, shot, or find a job."
Update: Woodall answers, from the magical desert of Arizona, that he's not pounding the Houston streets. "Pretty funny. But it's not me, of course, I look more like a taller, handsomer Michael J. Fox. And my sign says, 'Will Work for Money'," he writes. "I was, however, the only Bert that ever worked at Public News."