A copywriter was walking to work when he passed a man sitting on the side of the street asking for money. A sign in front of a small bowl read “I am blind” but the bowl only contained a couple of coins. Perhaps not surprisingly, the blind man looked a little depressed.
The copywriter stopped and as he was getting some change, he started to talk to the man. When the blind man discovered he was a copywriter, he said, “Instead of giving me some change perhaps you could write me a better sign.”
The copywriter thought for a bit and finally added a few words to the man’s sign.
Walking back from work that evening, the copywriter saw that the man was still sitting by the side of the street but as he got closer, he could see the man looked happy and his bowl was full of money. He stopped to chat to the man again.
The blind told him that not only had people given him more money than they ever had before, many had stopped and talked to him.
He asked the copywriter what he had written on the sign.
“Oh nothing much I just added four words… it now reads ‘It is spring and I am a blind man’.”
This is not my story. It is not a new story but when I saw a version of it quoted by Paul Feldwick recently in Campaign, the urge to retell a great story got the better of me. So, this is my version. For me, the story not only demonstrates the power of emotion and the power of a few carefully chosen words, it is an example of how the best stories travel through their telling and retelling. Please tell your version to whoever you want.