“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” Mark Twain

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Beer Sign Woman

I used to take Camelback Rd. on my way east to work, but in August they started putting in these huge concrete storm drain pipes, which the street needs on the five days a year it rains hard enough for the water to need some place to run. I needed to find an alternate route, which is fine. Another place to "explore." I've been using Glendale Ave.

On the way in I go past the north side of Westgate, one of those "live where you eat, drink and go to the movies" areas. I pass some fields, sometimes with sheep. And the ubiquitous Circle K and QT and developments. As I get to 67th Ave, there's a motorcycle shop, the Superior Court in what used to be a strip mall, some apartment complexes, bus stops, and a tire place, where if I have to stop for a light at the right time, I can see a man putting the racks of tires out on the parking lot to make room for cars in the garage bay. There is a Spanish church in an old office building shared with a barber shop, high school kids. Lots of things, really. When I turn onto 59th to head south, well, that's for another blog.

I take the same way home most days. The other side of Glendale has an indie gas/concenience store, a cute, colorful Mexican restaurant, a tatoo parlor, Glendale Highschool, some creepy looking aparments. At 75th, there's a Walmart Neighborhood Market, that I stop at once or twice a week.

On the other side of 75th is an apartment building that looks like it used to be a motel. Then there's an alley that leads to a dive of a trailer park, and an indie mini-mart. That's where the beer sign woman works.

I don't know how common it is in other places, but sign swingers are everywhere here in Phoenix. People are paid to stand on corners with signs often shaped like arrows to direct business places that want it. A new housing development, income tax preparers, gold buyers, anything. Most are kind of temporary. I guess the motion gets drivers' attention.

After four in the afternoon, day in and day out, weekdays anyway, a woman carries a beer sign in front of the mimi -mart. She's skinny, blond, and from what I can tell has the face of a woman who has not been treated kindly by life, maybe partly due to her own choices. The sign is for Budweiser beer and Bud light. Twelve packs of cans for $7.99. She holds the sign toward traffic and walks around a little bit.

Where the Beer Sign Woman works. They must have known Google
Streets would be around because it's clean.

Recently I saw her talking to two children, another day, shouting down the alley, on Friday holding the sign and talking on a phone.

She raises questions for me. How can she stand to do that boring job day after day? Why doesn't the store owner just sit the sign at the parking lot/sidewalk border instead of paying someone? How much does she make? Is she intelligent enough to do anything else? Is it a cover up for her real job and the store owner is really her pimp? Were those two kids her kids? Do they live in the converted motel? How many hours does she do that a day? What does she want out of life? What does she need? Who loves her and whom does she love? What's her name? What's her story?

Once or twice I wondered if I stopped if she would talk to me. What would I say first? Would she let me pray for her there? Would she think I was crazy and would she be afraid?

Is there a person who is simply a part of your scenery? Have you ever taken a minute to wonder about them? To pray for them?