The Startup
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The Startup

The Importance of Seemingly Mundane Tasks and Why We Should Never Overlook Them

A creative story to a personal growth problem

Photo by Kai Pilger on Unsplash

Small sedan’s zipped through the intersection at 40 miles per hour, while larger SUV’s drudged through at about 30. Crowds of people lumped together on street corners one moment, then walked in messy quadruple file lines across the street the next, all in hopes of reaching their end destination. People do this routinely, blindly each day without a thought. No conscious awareness of their surroundings. No acknowledgment of the protagonists that guide them throughout the city safely.

“I’m tired of this BS!” the white figure asserts. He has a round head, box-like features, and always appears to be on the move.

“Every single day, you and I switch off, saving these people from the metal death traps that come roaring down these concrete grounds all day long, and who notices us? Nobody! Not a tip of the hat, not a hand wave, not even a smile!”

The people in the street seem to scurry quicker across, as the white figure is interrupted. The voice softens as a blinking red hand with a number next to it appears.

14, blink

13, blink

12…

“Look, Walkie, I feel your pain. Nobody ever smiles at me either. In fact, people seem so frustrated when they see me and are stopped dead in their tracks like I ruined their momentum. At least you get to see people on the go, excited to continue forward with their days.”

The blinking stops and the hand is still for a few seconds as he reflects on his existence. He sighs and again the walking figure begins.

“Stoppie, I know you’re a good guy and all, but I have had it up to here with the lack of appreciation we get for doing our jobs, well I might add, and also for making peoples’ days and lives much easier.” His voice becomes more aggressive.

“I would love to see these oblivious monsters last one day without me. The whole city would be in disarray. Then they’d thank me. Then they’d wave at me. Then they’d notice me.”

Stoppie thinks and then begins again.

11 blink

10 blink…

“What are you trying to say, Walkie? We need to be here! The people need us! If you’re gone, they wouldn’t know what to do without you, I wouldn’t know what to do without you. You can’t go, you just ca…”

Stoppie is cut off abruptly as his still hand switches to Walkie’s on the moving figure.

“They should have thought of that long ago!” Walkie says as he jumps down onto the sidewalk, leaving an empty, dark space where his body used to be.

“So long, Stoppie!” Walkie says as he sprints his way down the street.

“Oh no, what do I do? I can’t control this corner all on my own! Breathe Stoppie, just calm down and do your job.”

But Stoppie notices the people on the street. They are looking at each other puzzled. They do not know where to go without Walkie taking their hand along their journeys. Stoppie appears and people turn from confused to angry, as if Stoppie is playing some sort of joke on them.

7 blink

6 blink…

Stoppie changes, but again all that appears is a black hole of nothingness.

“Just walk! Go!” Stoppie thinks aloud, but nobody can hear him. A brave leader decides to attempt to guide a group of people across the street, but Stoppie appears, and a car flies down the road, honking, and just coming inches away from the pedestrians. They run back to their side of the street, too afraid to cross again as they leave for a different corner.

For the remainder of the day, Stoppie’s efforts are futile. People don’t show up to his corner, and when they do, they are met by loud honks, dirty looks, confusion, and disappointment. Stoppie overhears a man walking by saying that this street corner is on the news, reporters saying not to use it due to “inefficient street technology.” Stoppie is crushed. Nobody is coming to his corner, no passerby’s nothing.

He switches back and forth all day, but for no reason, there is nobody there. He has nobody to help, nobody to guide. He has realized that he would rather continue living out his obligations day in and day out than do nothing at all.

Later on in the day, at about 5:15pm, when people start to come by more and more in herds, Stoppie sees a neon-colored woman with a hat, a badge, and a disappointed look on her face. She is holding something squirmy in her hands, which as she approaches, gives Stoppie a boost of adrenaline.

“Walkie!” Stoppie glistens.

“Yea, I found this guy at a diner about 6 blocks west. What got into you two, everything okay?” the woman says as she places Walkie back in his box, and a group of suits walks by unaware of the drama that has ensued. Walkie begins.

“Look, lady, you have a job that you get to enjoy. You do different things, you help people, you make people smile, and they appreciate and acknowledge you for it. Me and Stoppie, we do the same thing on repeat, and nobody gives a crap.”

The woman smiles and looks at Stoppie.

“How about you tell this guy how your day was, how your corner was without him?”

“It was terrible, Walkie! Nobody came to our corner, people almost got hurt, and they missed you, they missed us, I missed you! It was the worst thing. I even overheard one lady say that you were going to be replaced, that we were going to be replaced! It was just awful, I was scared and the people around me were scared!”

“Who cares, it’s not like they really need us anyway! You said it yourself, they could have just replaced us, we’re useless.”

The woman chimes in.

“That’s right, you could have been replaced. But, that would have taken time to do, and it would have come at tremendous cost. And this corner would not be the same without you. You see, you guys have one of the most important jobs in the entire city, and without you both, without you working together as a team and consistently doing what you do best, as you saw today, Stoppie gets hurt, this corner gets hurt, the people around this corner get hurt, and the city as a whole gets hurt.

It is jobs like yours, the work that you two do that keeps this city running. And believe me, I understand that people ignore you or pass you by unaffected, but I am here to tell you that you matter, you have purpose, you are the signs that keep this city safe. And the next time you need a little reminder about this, just look to your buddy and tell him how much he means to you, and how much he means to everyone.

That’s all you need, one reminder to keep on going.”

Walkie is silent. Stoppie speaks with a crack in his voice.

“I need you Walkie, I am proud of everything you do.”

Walkie illuminates the sign, eyes glossy as he looks more intently at the people walking across the street. He sees the laughs, the smiles, the good conversation.

“Thanks, Stoppie, and thanks, officer. Thanks for reminding me that the little things matter. The little signs matter. It’s a lesson I’ll never forget.”

Stoppie and Walkie finish the rest of the day switching back and forth as they always do, except now, they are proud. They know that they play a huge role in the lives of each other, and the lives of the people in the city they love.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by +398,714 people.

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Jordan Gross

Jordan Gross

Son, Grandson | Reimagining Personal Development | “What Happens in Tomorrow World?” Publishing Spring 2021, BenBella Books, Matt Holt Books