Long May He Wave: 'I've always liked to dance'
BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - At the corner of Fairview and Milwaukee, one of the busiest intersections in the city, the signal says 'Walk. Don't Run.' But it says nothing about 'Don't Dance.'
And that's music to the ears of Zachry Bland, often seen moving like a puppet whose master has just cut his strings.
In his trademark Statue of Liberty costume, complete with mask, he says with an obvious pride, "I always have liked to dance. It's just random. It's just fun. I dunno. I can't explain it."
Zach works as a sign waver for Liberty Tax Services and, as sign wavers go, he's a veteran. Three years and counting.
"They have auditions and people don't last the season because it gets cold and hard and difficult standing outside all the time," he explains while the noise of the traffic reaches a crescendo.
The drivers here can be cold as well, especially toward a guy who, at a distance, can look unhinged.
"Oh, yeah. I get a lot of negative things," he says ruefully.
A reporter seems skeptical.
"Oh yeah. I get people throwing water bottles at me, too. It sucks, but it's all right. It happens," he says. "I've had days where I would want to be mean to people because they've been mean to me. Don't flip me off. Don't get mad at me. I'm trying here."
You get the feeling Zach has a special tolerance for a life that gives you lemons. But like the rest of us, he's pushing through the boredom as best he can, marking time.
He looks off into a distant somewhere and then says in mock exhaustion, "God. Today's a Wednesday. Today is Wednesday. I hate Wednesdays."
Still, he shows up anyway, rain or shine. It's what you do in the world of minimum wage. Something he knows all too well.
"This is my 33rd job I've had since I was 14 actually," he says with a grin. "I've done landscaping, construction, fast food, hotel hospitality, you name it. Like, I've done quite a bit."
And he's done it even in the drop-dead heat of a Boise summer.
"It's more difficult to escape the heat than escape the cold, I think. I can dance around and get warm but I can't dance around and get cool, so," he explains with his voicing dropping to a near-whisper.
There's no fraternity of sign wavers. But Zach knows of one guy in town who is also a waver and he's not impressed.
"Because I'm kinda critical like that," he says with disdain. "No, you're not doing it right."
Whether you think he moves like Jagger, or Gene Kelly, you have to give the man credit. Zach Bland has taken a mundane job and elevated it to a form of street art.
It's the luxury of a young man in not too much of a hurry. He's know happiness and hardship--sometimes all in the same day.
But he has a remarkable resilience.
And an energy that lights up a street corner, even on the darkest days. And when he's done, it's home on his long board.
Because this boy's life is, after all, taxing.