|Turnerís life spins at enjoyable pace
Sign spinner entertains drivers on local streets
While rushing down Rohnert Park Expressway one may happen to notice a man in a worn straw hat who has turned the mellow minimum wage job of sign waving into an art form. Nathan Turner, 34, has captured the attention of passersby since he began with Verizon Wireless, then Liberty Tax who hired him right off the street because they were impressed by his energy on a day when he was simply seeing how high he could jump.
Gracious and eager to talk, he smiles wide and demonstrates yoga stances, using his El Charro Mexican Restaurant sign, which he designed himself, as a balancing sail. The dancing is anything but random as it is a mixture of ballet, hip-hop and Thai Chi leg strengthening exercises that he works on perfecting during his sometimes-double shifts.
Low pay, high enjoyment
Working for 10 dollars an hour and 30 to 40 hours a week, he is currently employed at El Charro, Powerfit Gym, Cotati Coffee, Affordable Appliances, and his favorite: Holy Roast in Santa Rosa, because he enjoys being surrounded by big buildings and the downtown fervor. He is fond also of working for Cotati Coffee because the sign is smaller, allowing him to be versatile with his entertaining performances.
This favoritism parallels with his love of street art, and he hopes to travel to Chicago someday to do something involving paint and music for pedestrians and drivers to view easily.
Such an endeavor would be funded by a sort of toll road similar to Lombard Street in San Francisco.
A former Chico State University student, he has one semester left before achieving his Bachelor’s in Studio Arts, and although his advisors have encouraged him to finish locally, financial struggles have derailed such plans, at least for the present.
His dreams also include getting in touch with producers to make movies involving electronic, green screen and digital arts.
“Something I’d really like to get into,” Turner says passionately, “is a job as a studio artist. Even if I were in a theatre, I think my stage would be a sidewalk.”
The traffic lights turn green, and he gestures to the cars as they speed by.
“I really love the size of this driving audience,” he said. “Sometimes it does get weird out here, unsure sometimes how drivers might perceive him. “But some people say, ‘Hey, you’re doing great!’ It’s really fun when people start honking.”
Art in his blood
His father was an artist as well, and in high school Turner admits he was always the bad kid drawing in the back of class.
After school, all of his friends seemed to join the Army except him.
“My mother said she would have rather sent me to Canada,” he laughs.
Ardently anti-war, he feels many of his friends joined merely because they were taught fighting was something men were supposed to do.
Seemingly at ease with his life’s decisions, he makes T-shirts on his days off for the sake of art rather than profit, loves drinking coffee and takes pleasure in talking to whoever is in the coffee shop.
“I’m just here for myself right now,” Turner said. “I have two 10-dollar an hour jobs, and I’m really happy.”
Despite the fact his office is the busiest street in the city, Turner appears the happiest man on the block, living proof that you get what you put into your work.