CRESTVIEW — Brian Tarpley didn’t set out to become something of a local celebrity. His bike just got a flat tire last month at an opportune moment.
Now he’s a “sign dancer” in front of Precision Tune Auto Care with scads of motoring fans who watch for him daily.
“I had a job interview at What-A-Burger and I didn’t want to be late,” Brian said. “I randomly came in here to see if they could blow up my tire and they offered me a job.
“I said, ‘Where’s your pen at?’ and filled out an application.”
He was promptly hired part time, until Precision Tune assistant district manager Greg Geiger saw how well Brian attracted attention.
“He’s very energetic out there,” Geiger said. “He started part-time and replaced our full-timer because he’s so fantastic.”
Brian said he loves the freedom his job offers.
“There’s no stress, no nothin’,” Brian said. “I can go out there and listen to my music. I’m out there just dancin’ and getting’ it low.”
“I really can’t dance,” Brian said, though he said he likes trying new moves he sees on videos.
“I listen to techno workout music,” he said. “I can get down to it. Regular music like rock or country, I can’t get down to that.”
Brian takes a break every 30 minutes to get out of the sun and swig some water. His passing fans often offer him water or sports drinks.
Sometimes Brian hops in a wading pool by the side of the road and spins his sign as he splashes to the beat. He enjoys an occasional afternoon rain to cool himself off.
“But not if it’s thundering or lightning,” he said.
Though his unique job is great aerobic exercise, Brian said he hasn’t lost any weight as a sign dancer.
“I’ve always had a high metabolism and I’ve always been skinny,” he said. “And I eat a lot.”
Customers appreciate the shop’s sign dancer, Geiger said. Sometimes just the sight of Brian dancing by the road reminds them it’s time to have their vehicles serviced, he said.
MOBILE FAN CLUB
And Brian has his fans. Drivers honk and wave, and sometimes customers add a tip for the dancer to their payment. The most he ever got tipped in a day is $27, Brian said.
“A lot of people know me and they stick their arms out the window and yell at me,” Brian said. “I see people dancing in their cars when they’re driving by and when they get out their cameras, I do different things.”
“It gets their attention, and that’s the important thing,” Geiger said.
While he loves his job, Brian did have a few laments. First, he’s worn out his shoes. And spray-on sunscreen isn’t as reliable as rub-on cream.
“And when I have the big sign, I can’t do a full spin with it,” he said.