Justin Ostrowski | Jerry Davich~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 20, 2014 6:11AM
Justin Ostrowski waved enthusiastically at passing motorists on Monday morning despite an incoming snowstorm and low visibility.
Sporting a hard-to-miss Statue of Liberty costume, the 27-year-old Hobart man stood in front of a strip mall on the south side of Ridge Road in Hobart. His job was simple: Attract attention for Liberty Tax Service, a tax preparation business with several locations in Northwest Indiana.
Maybe you’ve seen other Liberty Tax workers dressed in a similar green costume while waving at cars in your community? I’ve watched them in action for years and, on Monday, I finally got around to stopping and asking about their job.
“It’s not too bad, pretty easy actually,” replied Ostrowski, taking off his costume’s headpiece and his personal headphones to chat with me. “The weather is the worst part, especially today.”
How do passing motorists treat him, considering that a few thousand vehicles must zoom past that busy location?
“Most people are nice. Some flip me off, some blow me kisses,” said Ostrowski, who started the job last week and works four-hour shifts. “I’m just trying to get cars to honk at me, that’s all.”
My sister, Judi Posiadlik, honks at every single Liberty Tax worker she passes. She’s obviously friendlier than me. I never honk, but I find myself oddly compelled to wave back at them. I feel rude not to. Plus, I think they have a tough gig, especially during this brutal winter, for the $7.50 an hour they earn.
My social media readers on Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In debated the merits of these workers, as well as this form of roadside advertising.
“That is appalling to make someone do that in this weather,” wrote Leslie S. “Boo to Liberty Tax Service. You wouldn’t get my business.”
“I can’t imagine anyone taking this tax service seriously with that kind of advertising,” added Julie M.
Other readers, however, offered praise for these faceless workers.
“Maybe he or she has a family and wants to earn money to support them instead of knocking your (grandmother) over the head and stealing it,” said Roger Hayward of Gary. “I applaud them for sacrificing for an income, and keep up the great work Liberty Tax Service in providing an opportunity for someone to EARN some money.”
Judy G. agreed, noting, “I am truly impressed with and humbled by these dedicated individuals that are apparently willing to do what would be ‘embarrassing’ and truly uncomfortable for most of us.”
“So many businesses would do away with that position because it’s not ‘necessary.’ Bottom line is they are providing jobs,” added Ron D.
Sure, these costumed workers are doing nothing but standing, waving and attracting attention, I agree. But it’s not as easy as you might think to do such a thing with passing motorists either ignoring you, taunting you, teasing you or assaulting you.
Last month, I talked to another Liberty Tax worker who said some people hurl things from their vehicle at them — mostly trash and cuss words.
“Even though we’re wearing a costume and nobody really knows that it’s me inside, it still affects me somehow,” the other worker told me during a break. “I can’t imagine doing this for more than a few weeks.”
Or, at least until April 15, I replied.
Too busy, really?
You’re busy, right? I understand. I’m busy, you’re busy, we’re all busy. But are we, really?
Or do we simply put higher priorities on certain things in our seemingly busy lives, leaving us too little time for other lesser important things?
This handy habit offers us the timeless rationalization of being “too busy” for whatever we deem unimportant, unneeded or unwanted — a lame yet oh-so-convenient excuse for us all.
But I say, “Too busy my butt.” Like most everyone else, I consider myself a busy person yet I always seem to find time for things I care about, whether they’re important or not.
So don’t tell me you’re too busy. It’s either a lie, an exaggeration or self-delusion, I say. Either way, I’m too busy for such nonsense.
I have a similar response for people who whine about being bored. Really? How can someone be bored with so many things to do in our apparently busy lives?
I understand escapism entertainment, trivial pursuits and time-sucking endeavors. It’s the American way. But to be bored is to stop trying to grow, learn and be productive, I say.
Take a class. Volunteer your time. Visit nursing home residents. Learn a new language. Be a mentor to a needy kid. Take up an artistic expression. Study a martial art. Join a club. Go to the library. Meet new people. Get out of your daily orbit. The options are endless, really.
Connect with Jerry via email, at firstname.lastname@example.org, voice mail, at 713-7237, or Facebook, Twitter, and his blog, at jerrydavich.wordpress.com.