Monday, August 18, 2008

I’ll have the snippet, with a side of vignette, please…

Sometimes, in the carriage business, your entire evening could have enough fodder in it be the subject of a single blog. Most times, not so much. But there are usually bits and pieces that are eligible to end up in one...

Three weeks ago I spent about half an hour on the corner of Main Street and 400 South waiting for Ro to come and hold Charlie horse for me while I fixed the hames strap on my carriage. This was my first mechanical failure, and luckily for me, it actually went quite well, when one considers all the options.

Ro had scheduled me to do a wedding up in Memory Grove at 9:15 pm. Now, when I say “do a wedding” what I mean is go and pick up the Bride and Groom and take them to their hotel. This is a run of the mill assignment for a carriage driver, but Ro tends to assign them to seasoned drivers because the last thing a person wants is to screw up someone’s wedding day. And, yeah, it has happened.

So I picked up the bride and groom, headed south to the Little America Hotel, and at one point I had to stop for a light. The intersection of Main Street and 400 South is where the Trax train turns to go to the University of Utah. Sometimes the light can be quite long. We arrived just as the light turned red, and at that precise moment fireworks were set off at the City/County building, which is one block east.

Charlie was not amused. For more on the relationship between horses and fireworks, read “The Wedding Crashers” blog.

I held him in one spot, talking to him and keeping him from doing something stupid. Finally, at the same time that the fireworks ended, the light turned green and I allowed him to walk.

Except he surged. That’s means he gave it an extra little “umph” and his lower hames strap broke. This means his hames (the heavy meal thing with the “balls” on the tops you see on a heavy harness) flew open and landed on his back. This is not good. At all.

I jumped down and got a hold of his head before Charlie realized that something had just whacked him on the back and realized that I needed someone who did not have to hold a horse/carriage while I fixed the problem. I called Ro and she made the 20 minute drive in 12. Nat had to pick my people up and finish the ride. They were okay with the episode.

That was a lot of fun.

Friday I picked up a couple and the entire ride the man pimped me for info on being a carriage driver. He told me he was not without skills (Uh, yeah. You have no idea. Watching the “Chariot Race” scene in Ben Hur and having been to a Dude Ranch twice do not qualify as “Skills”) and when the ride was over he paid me.

And stiffed me for a tip.

Here is a note to him:

Dear Wanna-be carriage driver who thinks this job is easy and he could do it too;

Not only do I sincerely think that you would be a 95%er, (See “The Re-education of the One Trick Pony” blog) but you stiffed me, so I’ve asked Ro not to hire you.


Because when you stiff the average Joe Bellman or Sally Waitress, they have no recourse. But you want a job doing this, so guess what? I have that kind of power. We’re the only game in town, friendo. And besides, if Ro did hire you, just for fun, (and because she has a sadistic streak) she would give you to me to train, and believe me, after stiffing me you really don’t want that. I’ve been known to make people cry. You clearly need to learn that if you ask someone for information and they go out of their way to give it to you, you need to give them a little something for their time.

I seriously doubt you would live through the mocking. We are extremely brutal people. And furthermore, we enjoy it. Immensely.

Lastly, I had some women on a ride when the “Stampin’ UP!” convention was in town. Far from mocking them, we love love love the Stampin UP! ladies. Why? Because they take rides, and most of them are not from Utah, so they tip. In exchange we give them business cards with the horse and drivers name on it and take fifty-jillion photos of them because then they go home and scrapbook it.


One night I was going past the Gallivan Center where they had just hosted a concert. A young man, missing his front teeth, wearing a Jamaican type style hat with sort of but not quite dreadlock and a big dose of intoxication insisted on riding Cletus.


He begged me, saying that it had always been his dream but he’s never had a chance. I said “Well guess what? Your dream ain’t coming true tonight, either, sonny.”

And besides, he didn’t look like much of a tipper.

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