03/29/10 — Holding the tax torch

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Holding the tax torch

By Laura Collins
Published in News on March 29, 2010 1:46 PM

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Reporter Laura Collins, right, spent hours "Workin' it" as Lady Liberty for Liberty Tax Service on Ash Street along with Lady Liberty Darlene Robinson.

The Job: Waver

The Company: Liberty Tax Service

The Location: Goldsboro

My face hurts. I will officially not be smiling or waving for the next week as I recover from my stint as a waver.

I arrived at Liberty Tax Service on Ash Street about 10 minutes after my shift started.

"You're late. You're fired," owner Paula Smith said.

"Oh. Um. Really?" I was trying to scramble to think who I could get to hire me on a Friday afternoon. Here's the thing, I can only find Liberty Tax Service when their Lady Liberty waver is out in front of it. Otherwise, I just drive by and completely miss the place. I explained this to Ms. Smith and she pointed out that it's important for the waver to be there on time so people don't miss the place. Message received.

Before I was sent out on the street, I was dressed in a blue Statue of Liberty robe and hat that smelled faintly of Play Dough. Then I had to watch a waver training video. Some parts were a little intense:

"You are the beacon of hope and freedom for everyone you reach," the video told me.

It also gave the following instructions:

1. Waving is more than just a hand motion. -- I incorporated arms and sometimes head movement with my waves.

2. Make eye contact with the drivers. -- This became a little creepy after a while. I avoided blinking to maintain constant eye contact with some drivers. They were visibly uncomfortable.

3. Give the peace sign to young adults, tip your hat to older adults, and salute police and firefighters. -- I did zero percent of these things.

4. Make the "honk your horn" gesture to trucks. -- I did this often.

The video also talked about ways to individualize your wave style. It said to use special talents or props such as stilts, juggling or singing. Due to my bad balance and coordination, stilts and juggling were out, and due to the horrendous sound of my singing voice, I ruled out that as an option, too.

When I finally made it to the sidewalk, fellow waver Darlene Robinson was there to show me the ropes.

"What makes it really fun is when they honk at us," she said and truly got a kick out of getting people to respond. And she was good at it. If someone's window was down, she would say hello; if they were walking or on a bike, she waved at them, too.

And for the most part, I'm really proud of Goldsboro. The majority of people driving by either waved or honked. And the Goldsboro Police Department has a 100 percent response rate to the waving.

Some of the other drivers concerned me, though. Those of you who waved with two hands: Thank you for your enthusiasm, but it's probably a good idea to keep one hand on the wheel.

Those of you who were talking on the phone and waved with your driving hand: Again, thanks for your enthusiasm, but maybe wave with the phone hand next time.

To those who blatantly made eye contact and saw us waving at you but were too cool to wave back: Just remember, you are not.

Ms. Smith said that 80-90 percent of people who come in to have their taxes done said they heard about Liberty Tax Service or came there because of the waver. A waver stands out more than a typical TV commercial or radio spot, and taking the time to wave back, whether you want to admit it or not, makes you feel good.

So, if you see my partner for the day, Ms. Robinson on Ash Street, do your civic duty and give her a honk.