Being A Human Sign Is Just Another Job Robots Will Do—And For Which Immigrants Aren`t Needed
August 05, 2013, 03:23 PM
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2006

 

Back in 2006, I pointed out that the rapid spread from Mexico to California of "human directionals," people paid to stand on street corners and jiggle giant arrows pointing to real estate open houses exemplified the 21st Century's Cheap Labor / Expensive Land economy.

 

As I wrote in a 2008 short story "Unreal Estate" about a house-hunting trip to Antelope Valley:
Once off the highway, you see at least one person standing at every intersection twirling or jiggling a giant arrow pointing to an open house. “Human Signs,” nods Travis. “Like back in the Depression when guys would walk around wearing sandwich boards reading ‘Eat at Joe’s.’ But this is the opposite of a depression. Real estate commissions are six percent, so, on a $400k house, that’s $20k, which pays for a lot of twirling.”
2013

But, robots are now taking over the Human Sign profession.

From the L.A. Times:

Levy imports his battery-operated mannequins from China. They rent for $370 a month or can be purchased for $797. The plug-in electric models go for about $50 less. <

Although male mannequins are available, "the females outsell them 99 to 1," Levy said. "We have a busty model and one with a regular figure. The regular one is more popular: I personally think the busty one is overdone."

Passing motorists find the 65-pound sign wavers convincingly realistic.

"I was at a convention in Las Vegas last weekend, and several guys came up and tried to talk to the sign dolls," Levy said. Bar customers, he said, sometimes pose with the mechanical female sign waver parked in front of a nearby shop.

The makers of robotic mannequins tout their creations as ideal workers who are always on time, never need a lunch break and never complain about being underpaid.