Lincoln and Pico is my intersection, but the jackass across the way doesn’t know that yet. You think he understood what he was getting into when he took that corner? He’s messing with the 2019 World Sign Spinning champion and before the end of day, he will know my name.
I’ve seen punks like him come and go over the last three years. I was taught by the best—Jimmy B, rest in peace. He taught me the ways of the sign flipper, what gloves to wear, how to hydrate, why good shoes are important. The new kid on the block over there didn’t get the memo.
Now he’s loosening up, which is pure bullshit. Jimmy B taught me you should warm up before you get to your corner. Ain’t nobody paying you to fuck around in front of potential customers. You are getting money to grab folks’ attention and keep it long enough to read your sign. It’s that simple.
The joker over there was late, too. I’ve been on my corner since 10 am, I was spinning at 10:01. It’s 10:30 now and he’s just getting started. Give me a break.
I can’t stop to watch all of his moves, though I want to. Does he have any tricks up his sleeve? Is he checking me out? I don’t want to know. I’m not doing this for him. I’m a professional.
Okay, there he goes. He’s starting with a flat back spin? That’s not how you begin a routine. Folks have got to be able to see the words on your sign, right off the bat. Home dude just lost five, maybe ten pairs of eyeballs with that move. This is a busy intersection, drivers don’t have time to watch you show off.
The light here at Lincoln and Pico is a long one. That’s why it’s so popular with sign flippers. But I’ve held this corner for the last three years. Jimmy B started it all, may he rest in peace. Ain’t no one taking that away from us.
Now Homeboy’s doing a sky toss, another amateur move. Nobody can read your sign, dumbass! He’s not even going to last a week, my prediction.
Watch me, slick. See how it’s done. This is a flat spin, the sign’s spinning in place and you can read it the entire time! How do you like them apples?
An hour later and Homeboy’s still pulling out all the stops. He takes a break every once in a while to check out my flow. That’s right Poindexter, scope my process. This is how it’s done.
Hot out here today. I’ve got my water bottle in the shade behind me. Time for some hydration. Homeboy hasn’t had any water since he started. Wait ’til he starts cramping up. Happened to me once, never again.
Now’s the time to start breaking out my signature moves. A handstand hold—while standing on my hands, I hold the sign up in the air with my ankles and keep it perpendicular to the street. Drivers gotta see what you’re advertising!
Across the way, Homeboy tries to imitate my handstand hold and falls flat on his ass. That move took me six months to perfect. A bold choice, but you can’t just try it out here for the first time, sonny.
He’s wiping his face with a napkin, the heat’s taking a toll. He’s slowing down his moves, taking time between each one. He’s getting tired.
Two hours later and homeboy is starting to get sloppy. The LED sign at the corner Wells Fargo says it’s 88 degrees, which is hot for Santa Monica.
Now I’m feeling bad for Homeboy. He doesn’t have a Jimmy B to show him the ropes. He’s out here on his own. It takes big brass ones to do that. You know what? I’m starting to admire the guy for even coming out to this corner. To my corner.
I should get him a big bottle of Aquafina on my next break. The 7-Eleven just down the block has got a sale on the big 64 ounce bottles. No one ever bought me any water when I started. Not even Jimmy B, rest his soul. But this kid deserves a break. Maybe I’ve been too hard on him. He doesn’t look older than 20.
Fifteen minutes later, I’m back from the store with his water. Homeboy’s still out there but I can tell he’s fading fast. He needs some water in his system.
I yell across the crowded intersection. “Yo, Homeboy!”
He stops flipping and looks my way, surprised that I’m even acknowledging him. He reminds me of myself in that instant. Scary.
“Have some water!” I toss the water bottle across the intersection in a perfect spiral. I could’ve been a quarterback in high school but I liked to smoke weed too much. Then I quit and never went back.
Homeboy drops his sign and watches the Aquafina bottle coming at him like an outfielder anticipating a pop fly. My throw’s going to come up short, so he steps up to meet it.
He nearly steps off the curb when a car honks at him. He stumbles for a second when the bottle hits him squarely on his left shin. Bapp!
Homeboy goes down on the hot sidewalk, clutching his left leg and cussing up a storm. “Fuck you, motherfucker!”
You know what I think of next? For a second, I wonder what Jimmy B would do, then I grab my sign and run away.