Published: December 15, 2010
"Hey, that's sweet," says the customer, eyebrows arched at the sight of the photo. "It's a big difference." It was free, but they give him $5 anyway.
Suddenly, Carey's marketing theory proves right. As he's working, some people in the lot crane their necks, a few walk over to watch. Two young girls pull up in their red Grand Am, and they want the service. Things are officially picking up.
As he sands the first headlight, he looks at them and asks, with sincere curiosity, "What made you decide to give me a chance?" It's the tone of a man who's had a hard day.
"You looked like you knew what you were doing," one of them says. "We're just giving somebody a chance, somebody in the community that's doing something."
It goes like that sometimes. People see a regular guy from their neighborhood earnestly trying to make it the honest way, working hard every day in the same spot, down on his knees, and a few will support him almost on principle, even if they don't have much money, even if they don't really need their headlights polished. There's just enough of them out here to carry his business until people agree with him that shiny headlights make any car look sharper.
"I just hope it survives," he says, "that I can keep doing what I'm doing. Sometimes the money don't flow, you know. Some days we eat good, other days we eat famine."
When he's done and the girls drive off, he's back to standing in the cold, without a jacket, waving his sign and shouting in his megaphone, hoping someone else sees him and gives him a chance.
And tomorrow he starts all over again.
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