Friday, March 08, 2013

Gifts on a spring walk

Taking a walk in the hills above my house this afternoon, I seemed particularly attuned to signs of good deeds. Perhaps I was inspired by the spring-like day and nature’s own budding gifts.

Why should human beings be any exception as natural gift givers?

The first sign was a fairly decent looking T-shirt carefully draped over a bollard in Council Crest Park. It was on prominent display just in case the owner came back looking for it.

Then, leaving the park, I passed a water fountain (a gift from the parks bureau, I assume). On a chain at its base, a neighbor had attached a metal bowl intended for dogs to slurp from after romp in the park. A nice gesture.

Along Fairmount Boulevard, someone left a stylish pair of reading glasses on the spur of a telephone pole. Again, the finder had hoped the owner might recover the glasses on a return jaunt.

Not much farther down the windy road, I encountered an elderly man picking up litter. He grasped an abandoned plastic bottle and packet of peanuts. He even dumped the peanuts on the edge of the road. “For the squirrels,” he explained after I thanked him for helping keep the roadway clean.

Finally, I got my turn.

A young woman in a pick-up truck slowed to ask directions to West Linn. No small task because West Linn is about 15 miles to the south. She had been visiting a friend in the hills and was utterly lost.

“Believe me, it happens here,” I said.

“My GPS isn’t working,” she said pointing to her smart phone, suddenly made stupid by the hilly terrain.

So I gave her directions from the still functional global positioning device in my head and sent her on her way.

Afterwards I worried briefly whether technological assistance is replacing face-to-face help, keeping us in a cocoon of isolation.

But I decided not to let the thought bother me. Why let technology intrude on the streak of human gifts my walk had given me?

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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Signage: the right way and wrong way

Today I called “Tutor/Doctor’s” local franchisee, Mark Seker, to chat about the firm’s illegal signs in the right of way. I informed him that I’ve taken down more than a few of their signs.

I know Mark and, despite and even because of my criticism, it was a friendly chat.

Unlike JobDango’s obstreperous, defensive CEO Ralph King and owner Tim Baron, Mark welcomed my concern and shares it. The signs cause ill will  — although he adds that they are remarkably  inexpensive and exceedingly effective in attracting business.

He promised that his franchise would cease putting up the signs (he can’t speak for other Tutor/Doctor franchises in Portland) and said that he would raise my concern (and his) with Tutor/Doctor’s marketing people.

Apparently he and others already had been thinking about yanking the signs in the public right of way but encouraging the firm’s backers, employees and clients to put up discreet signs in their yards...on private property.

That makes some sense. Who better to tout the success of a company than its clients? And if the message were something along the lines of “My child is on the road to academic success thanks to Tutor/Doctor,” it would be an endorsement based on experience. That's hard to beat.

I even suggested that Mark and his company come up with bumper stickers for their backers to display. Bumpers are private property that happen to cruise the public right-of-way.

The same approach would work well for JobDango, if only King and Baron would listen.

“I got my job through JobDango!” is a great bottom-line message for a yard sign or a bumper sticker.

How about it Ralph and Tim?

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