Maldeep Singh, sign-spinner at Little Caesars
Come rain or shine, snow or heat, Maldeep Singh braves the elements to bring an important message to the denizens of Chico: Little Caesars has $5 “hot-n-ready” pizzas. Arguably the most recognizable—and certainly the most consistent and long-lived—sign spinner in town, Singh can be found most days dancing at his station at the corner of East Eighth and Pine streets, his infectious smile spreading to many passersby. Even during the course of this interview on a day when the temperature reached 106 degrees, he never stopped moving, swinging his sign and keeping at least one eye on oncoming cars driven by potential pizza lovers.
How long have you lived in Chico, and where are you from originally?
I’ve been in Chico for 26 years. I’m originally from the island of Fiji, and moved here because I have family here.
How long have you been working here, and what other jobs have you worked?
Four-and-a-half or five years ago I applied here, and they hired me. I work most days here, six hours each day. I also have another job, at a Valero gas station. Most days I work here and there, 11 hours [total]. I used to work in a warehouse at Koret Chico, out by the airport [stops to fist-bump a passing woman]. It was a good job, I worked there 16 years, but then it closed down. This is a good job. I will be here a long time.
Wow, how do you relax after 11 hours of working?
I relax with the TV. I watch the news and the Indian dramas. We get ZEETV from India.
What do you think about sign spinning?
I like my job here. Time goes by fast. It is a good job and I’m making money here. The people [passing by] like me here, they respect me. They dance with me sometimes [imitates dancing in a car]. I see them smiling and dancing in their cars.
Does the heat bother you?
Not at all. The heat has never been enough to bother me yet. I’m out here in the rain, and when it’s cold also, and that doesn’t bother me. It’s not bad.
Where did you learn to dance?
People are dancing a lot where I grew up. I learned in school.
What’s your favorite move?
[Cradles his sign like a guitar] Rock ’n’ roll.
What’s your favorite kind of pizza?
Cheese. When I want it, I get a discount.
How do you like living in Chico?
Chico is very nice. It’s growing up a lot now.
Do you see anything crazy at this intersection, and what’s the worst thing you’ve seen?
Oh yes, this one and that one [points toward East Ninth Street]. I see lots of accidents. The worst is when people come driving the wrong way. They do it a lot.