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It’s an election year and it’s almost Labor Day. That can only mean one thing. The campaign crews for large signs are out and about. Signs. They take an inordinate amount of time and a candidate’s supporters obsess about them. In short, everything having to do with signs is a campaign’s biggest pain in the ass.

That being said, one of the perks of participating in a campaign consists of working on a sign crew which is assigned the task of putting up 4×8 signs. It’s the most legal fun you can have in a campaign.

Late yesterday afternoon I received a phone message about a sign crew going out in the evening. When I joined them I found out that this crew worked at night. From 9:00 p.m. to almost midnight I followed them across the district as they set up 4×8 signs.

Headlights help illuminate the work at night. Flashlights are a big help, but in a pinch a cell phone will do. Did you know there’s an ap for that?

The evening’s work yet to be done – 4×8 signs and steel posts in the back of a pickup truck.

The first essential for setting up 4×8 signs is a recent soaking rain. Check.

Years ago I took sign crew out to set steel posts and get the signs up at a point in the campaign when it hadn’t rained for at least eight weeks. The ground was as hard as concrete, the going was slow, and the exertion of driving the posts came close to killing the entire sign crew. The heat didn’t help in that regard.

Last night was a lot easier work.

The crew unloads the sign and posts from the truck and lays everything out at the pre-approved location. Yes, campaigns always ask permission.

One of two post drivers the crew brought with them – along with a bag of eleven inch cable ties, available from your local national chain home improvement center.

You let the considerable weight of the post driver and gravity do the work.

Screw drivers are used to punch the holes and cable ties secure the sign to the posts.

Cable ties and corrugated plastic signs are a vast improvement over paper pasted to plywood tied to posts with wire. The work is quicker and the signs are more durable now.

As campaign sign “technology” has evolved, so have the sign vandal’s tools. That’ll be another story.

One of the disadvantages of working at night is that it’s a little more difficult to see what you’re doing. An experienced and disciplined crew can easily work around that. The advantage is that the work is a lot cooler.

And campaign supporters will wake up this morning to a forest of signs that appear to have sprung up like mushrooms.