I have passed Rhunai Rice many dozens of times in the past few months at his job on the corner of Secor and Sylvania in West Toledo. He is hard to miss, wearing as he does a turquoise Statue of Liberty costume and holding a sign promoting Liberty Tax Service.
What is especially noticeable, though, is the enthusiasm Rice displays, even in the worst weather.
"I consider myself to be a positive person by nature," Rice told me this afternoon. "Negative people bring you down, and in times like these it is even more important to surround yourself with people who are trying to achieve something positive."
Rice said that - while he would prefer more dignified work - he is grateful that he can at least find part-time employment in the tough economy.
"These folks [Liberty Tax Service] are great to work for, and the people who drive by keep me motivated with honks and cheers," he said. "But just because the economy is down doesn't mean I should give up."
Prior to working at what he called "street-level marketing," Rice worked in business management, most recently as an auditor.
"Look: I have a 5-year-old grandson I am raising, so there isn't much choice about working or not working," he said of his decision to accept his current costumed outdoor job. "It's not like the bills are going to disappear."
We had an interesting conversation about self-motivation in troubled times.
"The easiest thing in the world to do is to quit - any kind of fool can just give up," he said. "But getting up every day and pushing yourself to keep trying? That's what separates winners from losers, and it's what keeps me going when I might otherwise start thinking negative thoughts."
Of course, if your company is in need of a hardworking, enthusiastic, and self-motivated person like Rhunai Rice, be sure to stop by Secor and Sylvania some afternoon. Don't let the wacky costume mislead you: Mr. Rice is no fool, and he seems to have the kind of unsinkable spirit associated with people who always come out winners.