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Here's your sign
They get in pickles & they dance
Gunnar Mason head bangs to his favorite heavy metal music being played on his iPod while he works flipping the Little Caesars sign at the corner of Louise Avenue and Main Street. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Josh Strauss’ work technique involves following the rhythm that’s flowing into his earbuds and out into his arms. 

Such is life when your days involve flipping a rectangular sign on a street corner.

For the last year, Strauss has been advertising Little Caesars Hot-N-Ready Pizza special by taking a sign and flipping it around through the air for four hours at a time at Louise Avenue and North Main Street. And he does so with a smile on his face because he knows what the end result of his labor is going to be.

“I’m doing this so that I can pay my way through school. Right now I’m going to Delta College,” Strauss said. “I can go to Stanford for free because I’m Native American. But right now I’m going to school for accounting, and I was just happy to get this job after being unemployed for over a year.”

Regardless of the weather, Strauss is more than likely going to be standing out there on that corner – donning his cotton T-shirt, khaki shorts and company hat – and shaking the sign that the franchise hopes will help draw some of the traffic from Manteca’s busiest intersection into the store.

When the string of 100-plus degree days hit last month, Strauss was out there. When the weather jumps from 70 degrees back up to the high 90s in two days, he’s still out there.

Through a combination of water and sunscreen, one of Manteca’s busiest sign shaker refuses to give in to the elements. He doesn’t complain about anything that Mother Nature – or people – seem to throw his way.

“I’ve had bottles and one time an egg thrown at me,” he said. “Nobody has ever hit me, so that’s not something that I really think about when I’m out there. It’s peaceful and I’m in my own zone, so I don’t have a lot to complain about.”

Across town, Will Pierce prances his way along Yosemite Avenue near where it intersects with Commerce Avenue.

He can’t be missed in his giant green pickle outfit, which he says allows him to dance along to the music he listens to because nobody can ever see his face.

“It’s pretty fun because nobody really knows who you are and you get to look out and see a lot of the people and see what’s going on in a busy part of town,” Pierce said. “Sometimes you get the people that come by and throw water bottles and yell and stuff like that, but that just comes with the job.

“I just graduated from Ripon High and I’ve been doing this for 10 months, and I’m getting ready to start at MJC. I like to think, and being in here allows you to do that.”