Tuesday, May 20, 2008

If “If” and “Buts” were candy and…oh, never mind, we’re all stocked up on nuts.

Working directly with the general public in my capacity as Slave Driver and Greeter to the People Walking Down the Sidewalk in Front of Temple Square, I deal with a huge volume of humanity.

Many of the people I am exposed to are families, or foreign tourists visiting Temple Square. It’s the biggest tourist attraction in Utah (believe it or not, even with all of our beautiful State, National Parks, ski resorts and recreation areas) but a lot of them are locals. Or, as I like to say, “Loco Locals.”

We have a number of individuals in the downtown area familiar to us because of their status. They are the homeless, the addicted, the unstable, and the disenfranchised. Most of them steer clear of us because we have a certain reputation. The panhandlers know not to even bother asking us for money. For many of us, carriage driving is our second job. For some it’s even a third. Ask us for a handout only if you wish to be mocked, or jeered at.

Last week I had run-ins with two of the unstables. One was a woman I was not familiar with who was changing her clothes in front of the wall that surrounds Temple Square, talking to herself, loudly, about how she was a black woman who was a member of the church, was sealed in the Temple, and did not have a tail. She was also cutting her clothes up with a pair of scissors. MBA was so concerned about the woman’s welfare that she asked the woman not to cut her clothes up. The woman proceeded to “Go Off” on MBA, yelling at her, getting louder and more random in her rant. When I returned from my ride I asked Church Security (We call them M&M’s, Mormon Mafia) to contact the Salt Lake Police Department. MBA wanted then to get the woman some help, I just wanted her to go away. They talked to her for a few minutes, gave her a business card, and she went away. Mission accomplished.

MBA was unhappy with the outcome, she wanted them to take her away and get her some counseling. I was happy that she didn’t take the scissors to us.

A year ago last February a young man decided to take a walk through a shopping mall called “Trolley Square.” He took his walk with a handgun and a shotgun and killed five people before being taken out by the SLPD. Unfortunate for the people at Trolley, but lucky for us, because two days before he was reported to be wandering Temple Square.

This past Saturday evening I had an altercation with a gentleman we refer to as the “Drunken Horse Whisperer.” I am all too familiar with him because several years ago he followed my carriage down the street, stumbling with intoxication, until I got Cletus into a trot and outran him.

He, apparently, at one time was a horse trainer. Being a trainer myself I know it can drive you to drink, but for me it was the people, not the horses, who were at the wheel on that trip. Horses are cool, many of their owners are idiots. Anyway, he has recently resurfaced. He likes to rub all over the horse, fondling their ears, talking to them, and generally be annoying. Not to mention the alcohol fumes which emanate off of him like “stink lines” in a cartoon. Saturday he tried to take a Newbie’s lead line out of her hands at which time I stepped up and told him it was time to go bye-bye. We allow people to pet the horses, but making out with them crosses the line. Fiddling with their tack, bumping them with their shoulder, or coercing them into an out and out revolt is not tolerated. At all.

He never swears at us (unlike some of the other crazies folks I deal with) and hasn’t brandished a weapon, yet. If he tries to take a swing at me one day, weaponless, I know I can take him, because, well, I’m kind of nasty, have big muscles and an not under the influence of any artificial additives other then the sheer euphoria generated by the endorphins I get from being a carriage driver.

Pause for maniacal laughter. Slave Driver wipes away a joy induced tear, and now her stomach hurts from the guffaws.

Ah, that was good.

Okay, where the Hell was I?

I don’t believe in “Horse Whisperers.” I hated the book and the movie. Natural Horsemanship is a load of bullshit brought to you by people trying to soak the uneducated horse owner out of their money, using terms that are a lot of Voodoo Mumbo Jumbo Crappola. A horse learns by discipline. Now, before you get all uppity, grab a Dictionary and look up the word. Discipline means “To Teach, by rote or repetition” not “To Beat the Hell out of.” And if any of you see Curt Pate, I want my $8.00 back.

So, since Drunken Horse Whisperer is back in town, I will continue to have him move along, away from the carriage horses, who do not need or deserve his “attention.” As much fun as we have at South Gate, we are, in fact, trying to do business. We have a job to do, the horses and the drivers. And I guess I will have to become a “People Whisperer.” I will whisper “Salt Lake Police Department” and “Drunk and Disorderly” until he learns by rote and repetition. And if he takes a swing at me, I will beat the hell out of him.

That’ll learn him.

1 comment:

Dusty said...

Hey, Driver--
You know a whole different set of things than I do. Like, I can just about differentiate between an horse and a cow. Bums strike me as entertainment, but then, I don't have to be around them if I don't want to. They stay away from my neighborhood for fear of being bored to death. But scissors in the hands of an unstable person, yep, that is scary. And, I'm enchanted with the idea of a "street savvy" horse. Hmm.

Great post, as per usual. Would have responded on myspace, but have got computer out of shop and have no idea what my user name and password might be. Well, I'm consistent, and that's half the battle.