March 2nd, 2006

self portrait

Fascinating other jobs

I have a window at my current location that looks out towards downtown Minneapolis. Specifically, it looks over 3rd St. S where it intersects with Chicago Ave. One of the features of this view is a billboard. Up until recently, it featured an ad for Discover card.

Just now, however, someone has finished putting up a new billboard advertising NCAA student-athletes and

The process of putting up this billboard fascinated me. I didn't see the old billboard removed, but its vinyl skin lay crumpled at the base of the billboard as I began to witness the change-over. The new vinyl was already in place, but exhibited wrinkles across its surface.

A single worker (who, I might note was not wearing any safety gear that I noticed) moved along the top of the billboard on a platform that left the top edge about waist high on him. He appeared to tug the vinyl sheet into place and then moved down the ladder on one side of the billboard to the bottom platform. Here, he used what appeared to be a metal rod to measure a distance from one edge, He cut a slit in the bottom of the vinyl and slid the rod, and others like it, into a sleeve along the bottom of the billboard. Another slit was cut a similar distance from the other side of the billboard and additional rods were inserted. I think there were five in all.

He then moved along the bottom, attaching straps to the vinyl. Hard to tell from this distance, but it makes sense that they hooked on the rods that were just inserted. After each strap was attached, he cranked a come-along to tighten it and the wrinkles gradually disappeared from the billboard. In a matter of minutes, you couldn't tell the billboard was anything other than painted on a flat surface.

He's bundled up the discarded old billboard and placed it in the back of his pick-up truck, retrieved the ladder that allowed him access to the billboard structure and is on his way, perhaps to another billboard.