Thursday, September 08, 2011

Talk is cheap: Observations from a going-out-of-business sale

On my way to the office this morning, I decided to make a quick stop at Borders in Methuen.

I’ve been getting the bookstore’s e-mails for weeks now, warning that they are going out of business, that their books are now up to 90% off the original price, and that they are “Going…Going…GONE.”

Although good deals make me happy, I felt anything but as a Borders employee unlocked the doors at 9 a.m.

“I’m so sad you guys are closing,” I told her, which was probably a dumb and insensitive thing to say to someone working all day to close their own place of employment.

“So am I,” she said. “The discounts are going up another 10 percent today, just so you know.”

More than half the store was empty bookshelves. The magazines were gone and so were most of the new releases and latest bestsellers. Biographies, Politics and Government, and Business and Management still had a pretty good selection.

Books filled with observations about how to fix our country and its politics penned by Newt Gingrich, Dick Morris, George W. Bush, David Plouffe, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Jimmy Carter, Keith Olbermann, Thomas Friedman and even Meghan McCain still lined the shelves and Borders was practically giving them away at 90 percent off.

As I stood there in the cavernous store full of “going out of business” signs, employees disassembling fixtures, and fellow customers grumbling about the poor economy, three words came to me: “Talk is cheap.”

Last night, the Republican presidential candidates spent two hours talking about how they would tackle the poor economy and turn things around for struggling, out-of-work Americans.

Tonight, when President Obama delivers his jobs speech, we will witness his best attempt to convince those who once supported him that he can get us out of this mess if given another four years in the Oval Office.

Americans are watching and listening, but they are tired of the rhetoric, the semantics and the assurances. They want action. They want their jobs back. They want their businesses to work. They want leaders they can put their faith in to pull this off.

Before my Borders experience this morning, I ran into a neighbor as I was getting into my car. From previous conversations, I know he owns a small software consulting business in Lawrence.

This morning, he was carrying a brand new computer to his car.

“How’s business?” I asked.

“Actually, pretty good. I just hired a new employee,” he answered.

This guy did what our government and its leaders couldn’t last month. He actually created a job. Our leaders should take a lesson from him and give us what we really need right now: a little less talk, and a lot more action.

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