As I sit here in my Tidy Whities contemplating the differences of the Strawberry Festival this year and the Strawberry Festival last year, I can't help but smile a little. For several reasons.
1. This year we are working for someone else (and when I say "we", I mean me) and not the festival itself. We are not standing in a parking lot for 12 hours a day in the blistering sun getting insults and vulgarities hurled at us. No, we are working for some very nice, fun people we met last year at the Strawberry Festival.
2. The second reason that makes me smile is that some of you are really thinking that I blog in my underpants.
So this year I am driving trams.
|"ALL ABOARD!" beep, beep, toot, toot.|
Shuttling people around the parking lots to the gates of the festival. It has been fun and the people are nice getting on because they are excited to go ride the rides and eat all of the different varieties of food. The ones that get on at the end of the day are just tired and thankful for the chance to ride back to their cars instead of having to walk.
Day 1 and 2. I worked the day shift. Pretty slow in the mornings because the gates open at 10 and the midway at noon. 2-5 people would board at a time and then we would shuttle them to the gate, then back again. Around and around we go. Then I was moved to the night shift and it got busier, plus the weekend arrived. It sure made the nights go by fast.
3 days into the festival and I have already had some interesting stories to tell. I am sitting at the gate in the tram, a lady comes up and tells me she can't find her car. I am not sure how I can help but I ask her where she parked. She said the handicapped lot. I said that is right there next to where I was parked. She holds up here key fob and hits the button. "See, it's not there." I wonder if I had a dumbfounded look on my face? I then told her to go to the gate and someone there could help her because I told her that I honestly didn't know where she parked.
One night I was hauling a VIP into the festival. The tram stopped at the gate and there was a gentleman waiting to get on. The VIP was with the fair board and she asked him if he needed help. Immediately she knew he was drunk. I mean can't speak and ready to fall over drunk. So she then walks to the gate and gets the Sheriff's deputy. Meanwhile he climbs onto the tram and I don't know how he got up there. I get out to ask him if he knows where he is going and he just kind of nods. The deputy calls for backup and we wait a little bit. Backup is on its way so the deputy confronts him and gets him off of the tram and the VIP says to leave so I did.
The flag people in the lots are no different than the ones last year. They stand in the middle of the road and just flap their arms like they are trying to take off. Just flap, flap, flap. Keep going, the breeze feels good. I will be lucky if I don't run them over.*My lawyer advises me not to run over flag flappers.
One of the perks with this job is that we get to go into the festival for free. We just show our ID badges and walk right through. The bad thing about that is that you get to walk right through everyday if we want. What do you think that would do to our figures? Because of that the death marches have begun. So we only go in every couple of days to look around and find some good fair food. They have a huge variety, that's for sure.
|It says, "Chompers, Crunchy balls of goodness". Not sure I want to try that. *My lawyer advised them they should say spheres instead of balls.|
|I have never seen so many food stands at a festival.|
Another perk is that we get to camp for free at the festival.
|Our own little corner of the fair.|
Getting to immerse ourselves into the whole carney experience. *My lawyer says that I shouldn't say carney but rather Entertainment Engineers. I never thought that I would be a carney(entertainment engineer) and follow the fair circuit but this is very close. We are hired by the festival and provide a free service to the people. So it's not like we are hocking games or rides or anything like that.
The Florida Strawberry Festival is all about the strawberries. They are all over the festival grounds and also outside of the festival.
|Parkesdale Strawberry stand.|
|I found the Strawberry Queen.|
They grow some beautiful strawberries around here and are very proud of it. Another thing that is good here are the onions. Yes, onions. They plant them around the strawberry fields and it gives them a sweet taste.
|Sweet onions. They are huge.|
Days 3-6. I have just been working the night shift. When we were offered this job we thought we would be working together, but we are not. I have never been away from Lisa for this long. I mean we are talking a couple of hours a day. Plans where that Lisa was going to drive a 22 passenger golf cart outside of the festival.
|Lisa and her golf cart.|
|The look of terror.|
As you can imagine the roads around a festival this size were a nightmare so that didn't pan out. Plus there are not enough barf bags in Florida to keep her riders supplied with. Now she just sits home eating bon-bons and sipping gallons of wine. I will get a call on the radio, "Lisa's out of wine, can you drive the tram over to the liquor store?" To which I reply, "Roger willco, over and out. Hang on everybody!"
7 days into the festival and it finally dawned on me that I have been bamboozled. I am the one working and Lisa is having all of the fun. I don't recall needing a job. It is seriously cutting into my video gaming time. So I am at work and Lisa is enjoying the concerts. I will be driving and then get a message from Lisa. It goes like this.
|"HAHAHA! Trace Atkins! I need a new bra! Wish you were here! HAHAHA!"|
3 more days and hopefully they will be busy because it will be the final weekend. Walking around the festival I found this.
With this bad boy, I may never have to walk again. Maybe after the festival I will have made enough to get one. We will see.
Well the rest of the festival was uneventful. I did realize that my tolerance for people has been reached. The reason I know this is that my hands are starting to form a choke hold when someone starts asking stupid questions. Like the same questions over and over. Kind of like working in Yellowstone. Only instead of "Where are the bears?" it's "Are you going to gray parking?" "Are you going to the festival gate?" "Where did I park?" It is time to ride off into the sunset under our assumed names and find more undisclosed locations. Also I think I have touched more people than I care to touch.
So in conclusion: The festival was much better this year for me and I know it was a blast for Lisa. We met some fun, hard working people that we can call friends and we are looking forward to working some more events with them.
Till we surface again somewhere.
*My lawyer advises me that I should disclose that I do write the blog in my underpants.