Sunday, May 13, 2007

The End

It's that time of year again, a week ago it was, I'm always on the greyhound the first week of May. Last season I was long gone by this time. It feels strange not going, I think I'll be fine though, my heart does ache some. I live near a highway in this tiny town I'm in. The other night it was hot in my apartment so I was sitting outside smoking and staring at the stars, watching the trucks and cars go by, swishing away into the night, down the highway, their red tail lights fading. It suddenly occurred to me that it didn't matter where they were going, I'd probably already been there in my travels. I don't have to wonder anymore. That little voice inside that always whispered to me, tugged at me, has gone to bug someone younger. Things are as they should be.

I smiled when I realized this, watching that highway. I had a good run, better and longer than most. So many ran out of steam years ago, got tied down,married, kids, but I just kept going until there was no where to go anymore. While a lot of the people, friends, others, gave it up because they thought they had too, I knew that was a lie, we make our own choices, I never let time squeeze me out. The industry changed, I'm the same, time to go in a different direction.

The things I'll miss? The people I've worked and lived, and partied, and hurt, and sweated with all these years.

The hot sun turning me a dark brown.

The early morning dawn as we finish tear down and all mill around the trucks, smoking, waiting to get paid, talking about the next city, excited to be the fuck out of this one.

Riding in the truck, my back killing me, my vision bleary, watching the city melt away as we get to the main highway and then start making time. Me leaning back, closing my eyes , drifting off, listening to the hum of the motor, unconscious...dreaming.

The Midway at night, sparkling, busy, hot, excitement, and knowing I live there, everyone else has to go home.

My bunk, small but roomy. Listening to the young guys party and talk shit late into the night while I lay there, the "old guy", smiling, remembering when I was their age, and just as dumb.

I could go on and on, I'll miss it all and I'll never forget any of the people I love out there. I have no regrets, just lots of memories. We all have eras in our lives, times we remember fondly, I have always recognized them when they were upon me, while they were happening, we can't hang onto them, time won't let us, they slip by. Be aware of these times and experiences while they're happening, savor them as they pass by. No regrets.

People will remember me for a number of years to come, time will take them too, new faces will take their place, and someday no one will know who I was, but I'll know, I'll always know who I am.

I will continue to rewrite stuff, fill in gaps etc. This Blog is done though. Thanks for reading and your comments, you've all been too kind.

("You may bury my body down by the highway side so my old evil spirit can get a Greyhound bus and ride.")

--Me And The Devil Blues by Robert Johnson

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My Prediction

Carnies are born, they can't be made. The Carnival Industry has always been made up of a certain type of person. That personality is a transient by nature, not materialistic, existing for the moment. These people do it for the love of it, they need to keep moving, dreaming, living just for this day, tomorrow comes tomorrow.

As I said in earlier posts, the Industry has been changing, and it is now completely changed over for the most part, things as they were are no more. It has been announced publicly that the Carnival as it was is now done. The new company doesn't call it the Carnival on their site, they call it their "Traveling Amusement Park", "Carnival" is a bad word.

Here's the problem, a major one for the new guys that have bought the Carnival world. They require background checks on new employee's, drug testing, and valid government ID. Because the industry pays shit wages, they have had to ship in South Africans to fill the openings. These kids will work for the $450 a week because it's big money in their country, but they only last a season or two, that's it, they're not Carnies. They have their little adventure and then move on with life, the industry is not their life, it's fun for now.

For Carnies it's different, they don't care about the money, they do it for the reasons I've already stated, you can get longevity out of a Carny. The equipment cost's so much to move over a season that the industry can't make a profit paying top dollar, that's why the wages have always been shit, and always will be.

The new "Rules" the corporation has put in place lock Carnies out in the cold, most of them can't pass a drug test, or a background check, sad but true. Locking them out was the intention. The corporation wants to really "Clean" things up they say, like they're so much fucking better, spare me.

The South African kids will last for a couple years, they'll come and go. The new corporation will constantly be having to train newbies for their new "Cleaned" up show, year in and year out. I personally don't think the big wigs will look so smug in a few years, like they do now in their publicity photo's, they'll be fucked eventually

I had a couple of companies offer me a job for the upcoming season, I listened to their offers but passed in a nice friendly way. I'm too old to start at the bottom. I only speak for me though, it's my opinion, some of the other long timers are going to give it a go and see how it works out, I think I already know. The new corporation offered me a job too, yep, doing the exact same thing as I've been doing for years now, I'd be in charge of my department. I laughed, I'm a Carny, not one of them.

Some of the people from the old show are going to stick with the new corporation, a lot of them are gone now, all the power to them, you gotta do what you gotta do and I don't judge anyone of them. I can't do it though, I'll never allow myself to be in a position where I have to answer to someone that knows less than I do about my job...ever. In the old days the guy I answered to knew my job inside and out, because he had come up doing it. Now, you answer to an administrator, someone who "Thinks" they know your job, because they have a title. We all make our own bed in this life, whether we like to admit it or not. No one talks "down" to me, because I never talk "Up" to anyone. I don't need money, or status, or power,to be like that. I am me. I define me. that's all I need. I'm just a Carny though, what do I fucking know.

Friday, February 16, 2007

What's New Lately

About a month after I got off the road, and my visit home, I landed in a city close by and thought I may as well start adjusting to the real world and get a job, any job,just something to keep me occupied. Normally I don't work in the off season, but considering this off season was going to be forever I thought it a good idea to jump right in and start adjusting to my new life off the road.

I lived in a run down motel for about a month, staying up all night, drinking coffee, smoking, and playing the blues on my guitar, just generally feeling fucking sorry for myself.

During the day (When I finally got my ass out of bed at about one or two in the afternoon) I'd wander around the new neighborhood getting familiar and wondering what the fuck I was going to do next. It's not uncommon for me to spend a month doing fuck all when I first get off the road, I'm usually beat and need this time to recuperate.

One afternoon I said to myself, "Self....today you're going to apply for the first job you see, regardless of what it is". I reasoned that no matter what I took as a job, at least it would get my ass moving.

When I walked out of my motel room that, cool overcast day to go buy cigarettes at the closest convenience store, I was dreaming of hot summer days, not working at a fucking convenience store.

There was a help wanted sign on the double glass doors as I entered so I applied. The girl that interviewed me was half my age and nice enough, she hired me on the spot and asked if I would please work the night shift because everyone else was afraid to and I looked like I could take care of myself. "Looking like you can take care of yourself doesn't help if some asshole has a gun to your face though", I told her. She explained that they had never been robbed and that it was just the unruly bar crowd most people couldn't handle. I said sure, ok.

I've been dealing with unruly people as a Carny, and on my crew for most of my life, so how bad could it be?

Well fuck me! What a bunch of little bastards they were, not all of them, just the ones with their hats on sideways and their pants hanging down their ass. They were cautious at first, being the true wimps they are, I'm not exactly the friendliest looking guy, one of my girlfriends said i was an "Ugly hunk", though I don't know how you can be a hunk when you're ugly.

I was calm and quiet that first evening when they started rolling in from the bar, watching, waiting for the first challenge, I knew it was coming. I was wise enough to know that because none of these little assholes knew me, they would push to see what was behind the scary mug, and I would show them, or be forever walked on. I've dealt with these little pricks for years on the road, on my crew, on the Midway. It's total bullshit that you have to beat any of these little fuckers up to get their respect. People that act dangerous are not dangerous, if they're giving attitude just call their bluff, it works every time.

Here's one example.

As a large group of them were paying for their stuff one one of them stole a lighter, thinking I didn't see, snickering to his buddy. He was the last in line and I waited patiently. They were all filing out the door one by one into the parking lot after they paid. This little prick was just about to walk out when I finally spoke. I called him back and then walked around the counter to meet him. I told him nicely to put the lighter back. He started to deny he took it, staring me down, his hat sideways, a product of too much MTV.

We were the only ones in the store, his buddies all milling around out in the parking lot. I stopped him in mid sentence and told him nicely that I liked his pretty hat, and that I would knock it off his pretty head and then step on it while his buddies watched. Then I told him I'd take that nice gold chain off his neck and keep it in place of the lighter,the choice was his. He didn't like me or what I said, but he did respect me and handed over the lighter without anymore bullshit and apologized. His attitude was gone now and I saw the real guy, he thanked me for not confronting him in front of his buddies and left. I never had a problem with any of them again, yet no one else it seems could handle them.

I learned a lot being a Carny. One of the things I learned at a young age is that you cannot ask for respect, you must assume it, people who ask for it never get it.

I did that job for a couple months, then the area manager offered me a job as a territory manager. It was a very good job and payed well, I almost took it, but I declined, packed up my shit and headed down the road to another city, forever restless.

I'm set up in a small apartment overlooking main street, I have enough money to get me through till spring if I want. I have no idea what I'm going to do as of yet, I'll figure it out, I always do. I'm dreaming of Midway lights, crowds, and hot summer nights.

I'll probably go looking for a Carnival in the spring.

On With Life

Ok, I'm finally past the "Feeling sorry for myself" mode. Self pity is comfortable for awhile, then it's like "Who gives a fuck?", time to get up and move on, life is so much more fun that way.