What the Hell Are These "Human Directionals" Listening To?
Ed. Note: Some people in this article chose to only be identified by first name.
James Minor's workday begins a lot like yours. He arrives at a work station, checks his materials, puts on a smile and readies for another day of being the face of his employer.
Photos by Jesse Sendejas Jr. James Minor
For the most part, that's where the similarities end. For the next several hours, Minor will do everything he can to dodge traffic and draw attention to himself and the business he's promoting as a "human directional." He'll be positioned on a street corner or median, waving, dancing and twirling a three-foot sign, all in the hopes passers-by will see him and commit to memory what he's selling before driving by.
As he works, sometimes under a hot sun, or maybe in frigid temperatures, he'll listen to music to get through the day, the same as other salespersons or marketing professionals sitting in offices elsewhere. Sometimes, what pours through his earbuds will get his feet moving or provide the rhythm for his adept sign spinning, a practiced sales technique.
Other times, he'll tune into songs to keep him plugging through the day.
"I listen to everything. I live with a music teacher, so you kind of get a little bit of everything that way," he says. "I have very diverse tastes in what I listen to -- hip-hop, rock - a little bit of everything."
Minor's been on the job for a year. He's visiting Houston, here for the last month by way of New York to help open a new market for his employer, AArrow Advertising. They're considered a leader in the human-billboard industry thanks to their showboat sign-spinning techniques.
"I got recruited straight out of high school, worked up the ladder pretty quickly. It's a very, very good job to have. It pays very well," Minor says. "Basically, what we do is advertise."
Boy, do they ever. In metro areas like Houston, where drivers are frequently bound by bumper-to-bumper traffic, they're ubiquitous. Mornings and afternoons, they're out in numbers and, apparently, quite a few are listening to Skrillex and company.
"Dubstep, drumstep, something fast paced to keep your heart going," Minor says.
Amanda, who was advertising for a local smoke shop down the street, agrees that electronic dance music is a good way to go.
"Normally, I listen to 97.9, but I had a bunch of CDs and dubstep songs mixed on my computer, so we just downloaded them to my iPod and I went along with it," she says with an easy laugh.
She says she's in just her second week of human billboarding, but she's enjoying it and is doing it as a side gig. She also believes musical variety keeps the workday from stalling and said she listens to "Spanish music, rock, rap, hip-hip, pop...anything."