To these guys, sign spinning isn’t just a job—it’s a calling

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Los Angeles

You may have seen them on the side of the road, or perhaps at a highway on-ramp, twirling arrow-shaped signs to entice passing drivers to check out a new housing development or advertise a discount cell phone plan. And you might say to yourself, what a lousy job.

You’d be wrong.

At least, that’s what many sign spinners here in Los Angeles say. In the video above sign spinners show off their awesome moves, and talk about how they have found not just steady income, but also a growing tribe of like-minded devotees. They’ve flung sign spinning out of the realm of thankless grunt work and into a vocation that doubles as an emerging extreme sport.

At the forefront of the sport is AArrow Sign Spinners, a Los Angeles-based company that was an early pioneer of the twirling, tossing and tapping of signs on roadsides around America. The company, started by two young Californian entrepreneurs in 2002, says it currently employs around 2,600 people with an average age of 16 to 25. Seasoned sign spinners can make up to $20 an hour, though most start out at half that. While no one has become fabulously wealthy spinning signs, the income, some employees say, has been enough to lift them out of poverty.

“This is a good opportunity for any kind of person that’s interested in being outside, having a non-conventional job where you’re not sitting in an office,” says co-founder Michael Kenny.

Extreme sign spinning has given rise to a unique skill-set, albeit one with little obvious application outside of sign spinning itself. And while it might seem yet another odd-ball subculture, it is fun to watch—even if you only happen to be driving by.