One of the things that I’ve always marveled about in Southern California is how many things that are automated in other areas of the country are done by real people in Los Angeles. You take your car to a carwash in Ohio, when you come out, you’re left to dry it yourself. If someone dries it for you, it’s called “detailing.”
I guess the best example of this is the sign shakers. They stand on street corners at rush hour or weekends and hold a sign and wiggle it, to create excitement or attract our attention. They’re signs for cell phone stores, going out of business sales, model home tours and pizzas.
It makes me wonder who takes these jobs and how they get them. At first I thought they were immigrant jobs but I’ve noticed that often they don’t look like immigrants. I watched at a very long light down in Orange County one afternoon as a pasty fellow sporting a white fishing hat, white tee, white shorts and white tennies and white iPod tossed around a blue arrow sign for AT&T Wireless with skills that rival something seen in a costume character at the Disneyland main street parade.
I’ve never seen a want ad for sign shaking. Perhaps it’s because I don’t really know what the position is called. I’m not sure if these are the same people that jam fliers into my hands on Melrose. Is there a class system for these types of jobs? Does it fall above or below barista?
But maybe that’s how the career of a sign shaker is supposed to go, they’re just biding their time until they can get in at Disneyland or Knott’s Berry Farm or Universal Studios. They dream of the best corner in California, where someday they’ll be discovered and given a plush head to put on their very own shoulders.