The Sign Lady

She flips. She bops, twirls, and shimmies. She skips. She hops. She jives. She spins and bumps and wiggles about.

“There goes The Sign Lady,” Dante would say as we would drive down Broad Street together.

If there is a small business and it is located on the massive traffic jam that is Broad Street, they have had a sign that has been shaken by The Sign Lady.

Just a small little thing, most likely in her fifties, she has energy enough to catch anyone’s attention who happens to fly by during one of her shows.

My first job was at Little Caesar’s. If you can’t see why this matters, you clearly don’t have one in your area. One thing they are most known for is their sign shakers. As we called it: Shaker Boarding.

It is not nearly as awesome as it may sound. I was out there in temperatures so cold the tears that sprung to my eyes felt frozen in place, with shoes so worn the mushy ground seeped in through the soles, and with music that could not be loud enough. And don’t get me started on the broiling Summer days.

But take one look at The Sign Lady and it would look like a dream job. After all, she gets almost every business with a sign to shake to let her shake it. Sometimes the sign would be ripped straight from the earth, and she would wag it around just the same, the prongs still protruding from the bottom. Whether it was thirty degrees or one hundred, she gave it everything she got.

Her sandy curls bopped along with her, accentuating every move. The sign, her media, never misses a beat. Her hands, sometimes with and sometimes without gloves, clung to her sign her dear life.

And I envy her.

She is not particularly attractive as far as this society is concerned. I know this, because I saw her at the Kroger across the street from my house and got to get a nice close-up look at her. She is wrinkled, naturally, and short and too-skinny (as if there is such a thing).

But she is smiling. She is grinning from ear to ear and she walks as if she is dancing, even on her way to the parking lot where there was no car for her. This is a woman who appreciates what she has in life.

Although that doesn’t include a car and a steady job, she is making the most of what she has. Her life is uncomplicated – she is not bogged down with the stresses that I carry around in my job, the competitiveness.

And I think about how much I would be willing to give to go back, if only for a day, to my first job. At seventeen, being made to shake a sign was cause for complaint, or grumbles under my breath at the very least. With what I know now, and the experiences I have had that brought me to this point, I would take on the task with a new attitude.

I would take it as a worry-free day, making and selling pizzas, listening to music as I shake a plastic sign on Hull Street. But no, this is the life I have and still find some reason to complain about things, to over-stress about this and that. And I know it’s mostly my fault, always trying to climb my way to the top of the waterspout, anticipating the next downpour.



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