Brother Can You Lend a Signature? A Gen Y Recession Tale

We take you now to State Street and Madison in downtown Chicago on a sunny Friday afternoon in April…

John: (Holding clipboard) Hi, do you have a minute?

Carol: (Pausing) What’s up?

John: (Perking up, surprised) Hi, thanks for stopping! My name is John, what’s yours?

Carol: Hi John, I’m Carol Phillips.

John: Nice to meet you Carol. We’re here to sign up members for Greenpeace, do you know Greenpeace?

Carol: Of course.

John: (Energetically) Greenpeace is the …

Carol: (Interrupting): John, are you a volunteer or paid?

John: (Sheepishly) Paid, but Greenpeace is a great organization, we ….

Carol: Can I ask you a question?

John: Sure….

Carol: What do you do when you’re not here?

John: (Confused) I work…(vaguely) and I have other jobs…

Carol: Are you a student?

John: I graduated last year from (well-known University)  in Finance. But there aren’t many jobs so I saw this one in Craig’s List and I’m glad to have it. But it’s tough.

Carol: It keeps you out of your parent’s basement…

John: (Quickly) Oh, I have an apartment.

Carol: Do you have student loans you have to pay as well?

John: (Suddenly looking very worried). Oh yes, a lot. They are on hold until July, but after that I don’t know what I’m gonna do…I had a job out of school as a stock broker, but I quit after a few weeks. I just didn’t feel good about it.

Carol: Very Millennial of you…

John: I felt like one of those guys that got us in all the trouble. I didn’t want to be one of those guys.

Carol: How much does it cost to join Greenpeace today?

John: Most people go for a $1.00 a day or $30 a month.

Carol: $365 a year.

John: No, $30.

Carol: But over a year that’s $365, right, you were in finance…

John: (Smiling again) Right!

Carol: What’s the minimum to join?

John: $15. It’s more about the advocacy than the money.

Carol: Okay, I’ll sign up on the Internet when I get home.

John: (Looking worried now) Well, I have to sign up at least two new members a day to keep my job.

Carol: How many have you signed up today?

John: (Looking very worried) Well, actually none today.

Carol: I have to go make a phone call, I’ll come back if you’re still here, I’ll sign up then.

John: (Disappointed) Oh, we’ll be here, we’re here all day.

Fifteen minutes later…

Carol: Hi, I’m back.

John: (Befuddled) Oh hi, it’s not you, I just had a bad …. it’s so much harder here. I like being on college campuses more. Here no one wants to talk to you. They are so used to being panhandled.

Carol: Yeah, I agree, this is not the best location, why not go to Millennium Park (points down Madison Street).

John: We go where they put us. We’ve got locations all over the city. The people on campuses are so much easier. I like the campuses.

Carol: Have you gotten any more members?

John: No.

Carol: Well sign me up for $30.

John: Oh, great, thanks. Just fill this out.

Carol: Do I have to pay right now?

John: Well, yes. But in all our years, we’ve never had a problem with a credit card.  I’ll give you my credit card…

Carol: No, that’s okay. Do you have a card?

John: (Reaching for his credit card)

Carol: No, I mean a business card, so we can stay in touch.

John: No.

Carol: Do you have a Twitter account?

John: No, I’m more of a Facebook user.

Carol: Okay, give me your email, I do market research and maybe I can use you in a study. I’ll be in touch.

John: Great. Thanks.

Carol: Bye

John: Bye!