Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Truth In Advertising

The legal requirements to be a carriage driver, in the state of Utah, are as follows:

You must be 21 years of age.

You must hold a valid Utah drivers license.

(If you find this lax, understand that years ago I worked at a Ben Franklin, which was a Five and Dime. They sold health and beauty aids, craft supplies, select grocery items, rented videos and games, and had a pharmacy. I was a pharmacy tech. At that time, in the state of Illinois, to be a pharmacy tech the only requirement was that you were a high school graduate. Scary.)

Unfortunately, nowhere does it say you must have at least two brain cells.

In Utah, carriage drivers are classified as Statutory Employees, which essentially means that we are independent contractors. In our particular case, we are hired as drivers and operate the equipment (horses and carriages) owned by the carriage barn owners. For that we are paid a commission for each ride we sell. We do not get an hourly wage, health benefits, vacation, sick days, or even a going away party.

(Sorry, I threw that in because I've been watching both season of "Dead Like Me" on Netflix. I'm entranced by the fabulous going away parties at the Happy Time Employment Agency. Sometimes, if it's a person we're particularly fond of, we'll go to a bar, but frequently you won't even know someone has left until it's done. Most of our drivers don't quit, they just fade away.)

The company I work for also has a little spot on the application asking if you have any weight lifting restrictions, up to 30 pounds. The equipment is heavy. Plus you control a 1800-2200 pound animal with your upper body. Wimpy people need not apply. Only a couple of our drivers could be classified as "thin" and I would bet the house on either of them in an arm wrestling contest.

Other than that, pretty much anything goes. I've run through trainees with horse experience, and without. I even had a guy who was afraid of horses, which my buddy Bill equated to hiring a non-swimmer as a lifeguard. A man in his 70's was training and by the time he called it quits, on his first night, around 9pm, he was lying down on the grass at South Gate because his back hurt. He had his wife come pick him up. We do a lot of standing around. So, you must be able to stand.

So here are a few of the New Rules we occasionally implement to qualify prospective employees as carriage driver material:

No more drivers named D**e. The last D**e had a nasty habit of sitting on the box and never getting down. This is not necessarily nasty in itself, however he also would pee his pants while on the box, which made for a gross experience for the next unfortunate driver to use that carriage. Plus he was an ass. So, no more guys named D**e.

No drivers that sing opera. We have enough of a Carnival worker image, and that shit is just weird.

When asked what your horse experience is, if by way of responding you indicate your clothing, which includes a shirt with a horsie on it, your fancy yet totally inappropriate/useless just-for-fashion cowboy boots, and your pants that looked like you stole them from the set of " The Electric Horseman," you fail. Also, riding a horse once 13 years ago is not "horse experience," it's "Vacation Experience." Go apply at Marriott. And just because you have some Native American in your blood does not necessarily impress us. Horses are not indigenous to the Americas. We would, however, be highly impressed if you were either Bedouin or Mongol. They've been at the whole living with horses stuff a lot longer.

If you show up wearing a cowboy hat and have a faded circle on the back pocket of your Wrangler jeans from a can of Skoal, we will probably write you off as a Rodeo wanna be. This is carriage driving, which is not the PRCA. Go ride bulls.

If on your first day you show fear when grooming the horse, you will wash out of the program. Is it because the horses can smell fear? I don't know about that, but the carriage drivers can, and they will eat you alive, just for shits and giggles.

The job is considered part time. This means you get to pick the days you want to work, not the hours. We're all on the street from 6-11, Monday through Thursday, and 6-12 on Friday and Saturday. If you are looking for 3-7, 5-8, or any other combination that is not 6 to 11/12, then may I suggest you get a job at a Snowy-Shak selling snow cones. And tell your spouse to quit freaking calling every ten minutes to 1)see how it's going 2)see how you like it 3)if you are working with a trainer whom your spouse is afraid you will have an affair with or 4) wants to know exactly what time you will be home. We employ grownups, hence the 21 years old requirement. That shit is so Junior High. A lot of our male drivers are here to make a little extra cash to support their families, and the women are just plain mean. We'd rather beat the crap out of you than date you any day.

If you cannot tolerate temperature extremes, go away. Until such a time as we colonize the moon with temperature controlled bio-bubbles, we will continue to work outside. There is no indoor professional carriage driving (as opposed to competitive carriage driving, which is a sport, often done in an arena). And if I have to listen to a newbie whine and cry about being cold/hot/hungry/parched or wet, I will personally walk over and jam your head in the poop bag. We're all out in the same weather that you are. Deal.With.It.

And if you start your first day of training by using baby talk to communicate with one of our horses, you might as well bag it. It just proves to us that the horse is smarter than you. We prefer it to be the other way around, although I've worked with drivers where the intelligence ratio is questionable.

The New Rules are subject to change without notice, depending on the situation. We had a "No more guys named 'Don' rule" because we had two Dons in a row that were annoying nutfucks. But then we got a non-annoying non-nutfuck Don, so we made an exception to the 'No Don' rule.

Until the next one. Then I guess it'll be on a case-by-case basis.

The D**e rule, however, still applies. So if your name is D**e and you want to be a carriage driver, practice asking, "Do you want fries with that?" Because, "Can I interest you in a carriage ride this evening?" will never pass your lips. At least not on my watch.


Dusty said...

Ah, The Electric Horseman. Now there was a movie, back when Redford was cute, before he looked like Howdy Doody rolled in corn flakes. Great Movie.

If I ever met a horse, he'd probably scare me, so, um, "You want fries with that?"

Great post.

Lisa Deon said...

Howdy Doody rolled in corn flakes.