Thursday, December 31, 2009

The "Voice" That Is You

I responded to an email on a loop this morning, and a totally different person responded to my response, saying that she loved reading my email because, since I write exactly the way I talk, she could "hear" my "voice" in her head. Now, mind you she actually *knows* me in real life, so that's possible with her. Those of you that don't, well, you don't. But this is *me*, warts and all.

So, anyway, I hope to be able to spread my voice around this year with my writing but if not at least I've tried, and will continue to try. Reflecting on the past year I must say that I have learned a lot about writing, publishing, and myself. Well, I already knew a lot about myself; I am very comfortable in my own skin. I know the things I do well, and recognize the things I need to improve upon. But most of all I really like and appreciate the life I have and the people I have in it.

Yesterday I got a huge bonus; The Kid said to me, "I want you to know that I know how fortunate I am," and I waited for her to describe her room, or TV, or I don't know, something material, then she continued, "Because I have both of you. And you don't drink excessively, and Dad's alive." Apparently the friend she'd spent the night with the day before has a deceased father and an alcoholic mother. Having her voice that sentiment made all the yelling and snarling she and I do dissolve. Until, of course, next time. But she found her voice, and was able to verbalize a feeling that many other would have just internalized, because for whatever reason they didn't feel the need to say it.

I want to thank all of you that come by here and visit, whether intentionally or by happenstance, because I appreciate your involvement, passive or aggressive. And if you decide to voice your opinion and jot down a comment or just keep them to yourself and lurk (you know who you are…) I appreciate it each time you consciously hit that "favorite" button or type in the blogspot URL or google SLC Slave Driver.

Anyway you get here, it's all good. I wish for you a fabulous New Year filled with awsomesauce and cool beans.

And may all your dreams come true. As long as they're legal. And they don't interfere with any of my dreams.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The TV That Ate The Livingroom

There's been a bit of a kerfluffle going around in Casa Del Slave Driver the past couple of weeks. Mr. Slave Driver got a line on a big screen TV from a friend of a guy that he works with. For. Sale. Cheap. It only needed minor repair. Every man's dream, a high Def Jumbo-Tron in the basement/man cave for very small change.

I wasn't overly thrilled- although I admit that the television in the basement has been acting up over the last couple of years. We call it the "Mystery" TV. The mystery part being if once you hit the power button will it go on or not. Mostly you hit the power and it will turn on, eventually, many times scaring the bejesus out of you when, an hour after you hit the button and gave up on it and moved on to reading a book, it springs to life flaunting Oprah (shudder) or Regis (double shudder.)

Anyway, so I suppose we could use a television that responds the way an electronic device is designed to- on demand. I said, "Merry Christmas. That's your gift, I guess." And left it at that, getting occasional updates as to how the Jumbo-tron was doing at the TV infirmary. Yesterday it was ready. Fixed up, healthy, and ready to be transported home. Mr. SD got a buddy (the same buddy that incited the saga in the first place) to assist in the retrieval of the Jumbo-Tron and they delivered it while I was at work.

It won't fit in the basement. In fact, it won't make it around the first corner in the living room to the basement.

So I guess it'll be going in the living room. Where it will take up the space that used to be occupied by a TV and an entertainment center complete with shelves full of horses, photographs and nicknacks.


Folks, I have to tell you, I've owned automobiles smaller that this TVzilla. It comes up to my nose. (Okay, I admit that I'm not tall but holy crap!)

Well, at least I'll never worry about it getting stolen.

It makes the 32 inch TV look like a toy, doesn't it? Maybe in the summer we can park the car on the front lawn and watch it through the front window- pretend we're at the drive-in.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Collective Observations From Christmas Carriage Season '09

Dear Residents of the Salt Lake Valley and various parts of Idaho,

Section 1, paragraph A

There is one weekend a year where downtown is transformed from a relatively peaceful small market to a hellacious traffic cluster f*ck of epic proportions. Okay, two weekends. But only during one of them are carriage rides in high demand. The first weekend, which is inconsequential to the carriage trade, is spring Conference weekend. The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus is almost always at the Energy Solutions Arena the same weekend as conference. Please note this on your calendar, either as a warning or as practice, since traffic is always cocked up. If you use this as practice, then note that the absolute worst weekend to drive downtown is around the second weekend in December. This is when the highly intelligent powers that be schedule the Christmas program at the Conference Center (capacity 21,000 plus 900 in the adjoining theater) a Utah Jazz basketball game (capacity 20,000) Kurt Bestor Christmas show at Abravanel Hall (capacity 2811) and, of course the Nutcracker at the Capitol Theater (2260). We're not going to even count the number of people looking at the lights on Temple Square or attending a Christmas party at either the Joseph Smith Memorial building or any of the restaurants/hotels downtown. And God forbid they schedule anything at all at The Salt Palace Convention Center. So, if you plan on attending a function downtown on the Thursday, Friday or Saturday evenings on the weekend I have just mentioned, may I suggest you either take public transportation or, if you plan on driving, want to be on time and find a parking spot, leave your home at noon. If you are coming from southern Idaho, make it noon the day before.

It's no secret folks, if you have internet access you can look it up for yourself. Plan a little better for 2010, m'kay?

Section 1 paragraph B

Next item on the agenda; Orange cones. Orange cones serve as a warning. They mean, "Slow down" or "Caution" or "Don't freaking park here you moron." The ones we use are approximately two feet tall and are bright ORANGE so how a person can step out of their vehicle, (stopped in the middle of the street, blocking traffic, mind you) and trip over one shows me that they are either blind, stupid, or extremely obtuse. If I were them I'd go with obtuse because I like the way the word rolls off the tongue. And some people don't know what it means, so they might even come off looking smart, which they're not. Because they're obtuse.

Section 1 paragraph C

When a pedestrian steps out into traffic and holds up their hand in the universal sign indicating "Stop," they are not taunting you into a game of "Chicken" but in fact want you to "stop." If you are unaware what the word "stop" means, see above section 1 paragraph B, because obviously you are obtuse.

(41-6a-1002. Pedestrians' right-of-way -- Duty of pedestrian.

(1) (a) Except as provided under Subsection (2), when traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the operator of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way by slowing down or stopping if necessary.)

The fact that said pedestrian then allows a horse drawn conveyance out in front of you is superfluous to the operation. It is a universal truth that at Christmas time, we do in fact own the roads.

Section 1 paragraph D

When you make a reservation and Ro tells you over the phone that, "Your reservation begins at _:00 o'clock and ends at _:30", she's not kidding. Seriously. It's not that we like being mean (ok, well, I do) it's just that you're cutting into our income. I'm pretty sure you wouldn't appreciate someone cutting into your income. So don't be late. And if you end up being late because the highway was backed up for m i l e s, see section 1, paragraph A. The inability to manage the space/time/traffic continuum on your part does not constitute an "emergency" on mine.

Section 2 paragraph A

There are four verses to Jingle Bells. Four. And the "Batman Smells" is not one of them. And quit starting Christmas carols so high on the scale that when you get to the chorus you sound like chipmunks caught in a bear trap. It's unbecoming and annoys the shit out of the horse.

Section 2 paragraph B

Don't tip me in candy. I'm not a trained seal, I work for money, not treats. I don't hand your kids a cold beer, so don't give me a .99¢ box of chocolate covered orange sticks you got on sale at Walgreens.

Section 2, Paragraph C

Unless you have a reasonably intelligent question or your hair in on fire, don't talk to the driver, talk to each other. Any other time of the year we are both pleasant and informative. During Christmas, counter to the usual festive merriment of the season, we are tired, cold, hungry and surly. Plus we are swathed in so many layers of clothing we are roughly the size of a Sumo wrestler, so it makes turning around to talk an exercise in futility. We are limberly challenged. So if your impetus for taking a ride is not to see the lights but in fact to have a conversation with a carriage driver, I suggest you come back in June. In June, we like to talk.

Section 3 paragraph A

Not every single horse we have is a Clydesdale, so quit telling your family that the horse I'm working with is a Clydesdale. We only have two Clydesdales; Bart and Libby, the rest are not Clydesdales. And be thankful Jumping-Percheron's Stacey no longer works for us or she'd rip you a new one for calling Wesson a Clydesdale.

Section 3 paragraph B

As much as we would like to be able to, we do not allow the horses to eat while they are working. This is for several reasons: A horse like Charlie, if given a treat while on the street, will bug the shit out of everyone he possibly can begging for more. Really. He's a pig, with a giant ass. I know because I look at it all night long. Also, if given treats while working the horses come to expect it, and when your child walks up with sticky candy cane residue on their fingers, the horse might decide that a candy cane flavored finger would be a good treat too. And then you're stuck with a child who will eventually be given the nickname "Lefty" in school and one day they will climb a clock tower with a 30-06 and take their fingerless rage out on the world.

So bring out treats and give them to the driver. The nice carriage driver will take the treats back to the barn and feed the horsie his treats later. Horses, by the way, love medium rare filet mignon with twice baked potatoes and asparagus. Honestly.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Little Christmas Cheer

Nothing earth shattering today kids, just a bonus post...

This young man plays Christmas Carols on his bagpipe at the corner of Main Street and South Temple.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Nom Nom Nom

I don't have much for you today. Even though I had three days "off" I'm exhausted from "not working" because I've had to catch up on all the stuff that gets ignored when I am working. You know, laundry, groceries, putting up the tree, watching the Netflix video that's been sitting on top of the TV for two weeks…that kind of stuff.

So, since last year I wrote The Twelve Days Of Carriagemas for you, and also showed you The Object Of My Addiction when we decorated the tree, this year I will share with you a recipe my friend gave me years ago, like in the '70s years ago. (Ahem, 1970's not 1870's…) And a recipe given to me very recently.

My culinary career started rather late in life but I have managed a restaurant, waitressed, been a lunch lady at a high school, and finally I achieved the level of assistant to the Sous Chef. Now, as impressive as this may sound, really a Sous Chef is the assistant chef, so I was the assistant to the assistant. And there were only three of us in the kitchen, Executive Chef, Sous Chef, and former lunch lady, moi. (See? If I use the French word for "Me" it adds an air of distinction to the whole affair, non? Cest bon, oui?)

Okay, enough. Anyway, because I lack anything substantial to write about today like always I am giving you two recipes, one for cookies, and one for a delightful chicken thing, which, if you are a vegetarian you can turn into a delightful tofu thing, if that's your gig. Me, I'd rather substitute dryer lint than tofu, but I am carnivorous and that's how we roll.

So, recipe number one:

Potato Chip Cookies
1 C. butter
½ C. white granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ C. white flour
½ C. crushed potato chips
½ C. chopped pecans
Powdered sugar

Cream butter and sugar together, add egg yolk and vanilla. Add flour— mix until moist, fold in potato chips and pecans.

Chill dough 20 minutes. While chilling, pre-heat oven to 350.

When dough is chilled, roll into balls approx. 1 inch in diameter. Place on greased cookie sheet (or use my favorite— parchment paper) and press 2 ways with fork.

Bake for 12—15 minutes. Cool on a paper towel, sprinkle with powdered sugar when cool.

Okay, now we have dessert, so we need something to go with it, because much as I'd like to (and have been known to) eat nothing but cookies, sometimes it's necessary to balance that sugar rush out with a little protein.

Chicken Pesto Artichoke Phyllo Triangles

(Okay, it may not be very elegant, but it's accurate. And I don't know the "real" name, so there you have it.)

The next recipe is from my RWA compadre Imani. You can really hear her voice in her writing, so I've made no edits to keep that voice intact.

1 box phyllo dough
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked
1 jar artichoke hearts
1 jar pesto


I poach my chicken breast in broth, white wine and spices. I'd probably use a little garlic and onion powder, some basil, maybe rosemary or thyme, maybe sage if I'm in the mood. Kind of go with your favorite seasoning for chicken.

I use artichoke hearts in a small jar with olive oil and dump the whole thing in the food processor. I have also used canned artichoke hearts, but I drain these and add some of the chicken poaching liquid if needed.

When assembling the triangles, I use an olive oil cooking spray. Much easier than brushing the phyllo with oil.

Coarsely chop the chicken and artichoke hearts together. The mixture should have fingertip sized chunks and not be pasty. I use my food processor and pulse it, but you could chop by hand if you want. Remove the mixture from the food processor into a bowl and add the pesto. You want to add enough pesto to coat the entire mixture, but not make it too wet. You can also add the liquid from the chicken if the mixture is too dry. It should not be wet, but should hold together.

Arrange two or three sheets of phyllo on your workspace, spraying each sheet with the olive oil. (I just follow the directions on the package for working with the phyllo.) Place a golfball sized portion of the mixture at one end and fold it into the phyllo, making a neat triangle package that completely covers the chicken mixture. Bake according to the package directions on the phyllo.

Okay, so that's what I've got for you today. I hope you enjoy and have a great weekend. I'm sure I'll have a collection of things to bitch about next week so until then, take care.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mastering The Time/Space/Traffic/ Continuum

I had Saturday night off. Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t work Saturday night, it only means that 1) I wasn't scheduled to work and 2) I made no money doing it. But it's okay, I did what I did because I wanted to.

At least once a season, many times more, one of the employees comes downtown on their night off and assists the drivers. This assistance may take the form of driving their horse partway around the square during the ride so the driver can have a potty break, handing out food or helping Ro stage at South Gate. I planned on having this particular Saturday night off because I had an URWA (Utah Romance writers of America) Christmas luncheon during the day, immediately followed by a URWA board meeting. Typically we don’t finish up with the lunch that follows our meeting until late afternoon, and by the time I arrive home the day is shot to hell. Not being a fan of rushing (which is why I'm always at the barn early— if I'm rushed I will forget to put something important on my carriage and then suffer the remainder of the night without it) I never sign up to work nights preceding a function.

So, I chose not to work on the busiest night of the season. And I'm good with that, because dealing with horrendous amounts of traffic, tweaking, angry pedestrians, and surly shuttle bus drivers is just not my style anyway. I never enjoy working that hard because I'm basically lazy.

But I did go downtown. My first clue that Saturday would be the ultimate cluster f*ck was when I exited the state highway to merge onto I-15 which was backed up for miles. So, instead of joining the mass of vehicles at a standstill, I excited onto the surface streets and made my merry way to the center of downtown. And I had a distinct advantage over the *other* motorists— I knew I had a prime parking spot reserved for me in the heart of the cacophony.

For those of you unfamiliar with Salt Lake City, Temple Square is where the meridian marker is. That makes Temple Square the point of origin for all addressing on the city grid system. To find Temple Square, you look at the North/South and East/West addresses and go in the direction which makes the numbers gradually reduce to zero.

On the south side of Temple Square, there is a single lane reserved for the carriages. It spans both the east and west side of the South Gates. The area reserved for us on the east side is twice as large as the west side, and during normal operating seasons we utilize both of them. When we have a stager, the person who organizes or gathers your group, runs your credit card or tells you that you need two carriages because nine people, no matter how skinny they think they are, will not fit on one carriage together, we only use the east side to assist in the flow of carriages. That leaves the west side empty. Except if we leave the west side empty, people will park in our reserved spaces. This creates a huge mess, especially if we have so many carriages waiting at once that we end up parked in the middle of the intersection of South Temple and Main Street. So, since people seem to be unwilling or unable to respect signs posted by the city clearly stating that the area on either side of the gates is carriage parking/tow away zone, we strategically place large orange caution cones to defend our spot. And the west side is where Ro parks to stage, with a big "Carriage for Hire" sign in her front window to alert Parking Enforcement that although it's not a carriage it is in fact a company vehicle. You see, we own that little piece of real estate; it's part and parcel of what our yearly license fee pays for and by God we're gonna keep it!

Anyway, my usual thirty minute drive took me an hour. And I didn't have to be anywhere on time, so I wasn't stressed. When I arrived, South Gate was busy, and Hardrock was at the front of the carriage line so he ran over and moved the cones out of the way for me so I could park in our little piece of heaven, which of course royally pissed off everyone behind me on the hunt for a parking spot but I don't care. That space was mine, I'd already licked it.

I found Carriage Driver Kar already there, helping Ro with traffic. When a carriage is loaded the stager will step out into traffic, stop the vehicles, and allow the carriage to pull out. We don't really impede the flow anyway because no one is moving more than four feet at a time on nights like this (there are three in a row, Thursday, Friday and Saturday) but you take your life into your hands doing this because, while no one ever wants to hit/hurt the big pretty horses, a carriage driver on foot might as well have a big red bull's-eye positioned in the middle of our Carhartt bibs.

So, divvying up the responsibilities, Kar held the horse steady, I yanked off and threw the blankets on the exiting/entering patrons, Ro gave the sales pitch, then Kar stopped traffic. Occasionally we took turns shooing a motorist out of our lane. Folks unfamiliar with downtown mistakenly think they can park wherever they see an open spot, and poaching in our territory is frequent.

I also gave Coco, who also was not "working", money to run to Arbys and get twenty Hot Ham and Cheese sandwiches off of their dollar menu. Because, having driven on nights where you are cold, exhausted, bored by going around in the same circle over and over, frustrated with motorists who have no clue where they are going, there is nothing like a snack. And let me tell you, at that point in time, that lukewarm sandwich that someone walks up and hands you is the best damn sandwich you've ever had.

So now I have the next three days off. It snowed/sleeted/rained on and off last night and everything I own is damp. I've brought all of my stuff home to dry out in my garage and now my jeep smells like a swamp filled with horse crap. But it's all good. By Thursday the garage will smell like barn, and I'm actually okay with that aroma. And the only cars in my garage are mine. ;)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What Would You Do For A Klondike Bar?

You know the ice cream bar- it's supposed to leave you with a icy cold sensation, so big and thick no room for a stick? DO NOT NEED IT. Living the dream EVERY DAY. What I need is a ice cream bar that fills you with a lava like sensation, 'cuz baby, it's cold out there.

An unnamed source says that she went to bed the other night after carriage driving and it took forever for her back fat to defrost. We've been relying on our charcoal foot heaters, chemical handwarmers, and layer upon layer of clothing. I've even brought out a short robe I made of double thick Polar Fleece and have started wearing it over the top of everything. Wease says we need t-shirts with a false Tuxedo on the front and a sign on the back saying, "I am NOT Homeless, I am a Carriage Driver." The problem is, where do you find them in a 7XL? Because I have so much on the next thing I can wear over the top of it all is a two-man pup tent.

It's to the point that if you drop something on the ground you have to decide if it's worth bending over and picking it up, because just bending over is a chore that leaves you dizzy and breathless because you cut off your oxygen to do it. You dropped a glove? Yeah, I'd get that. A quarter? Not so much. Probably not a dollar either, especially if it's a Susan B. Anthony and not paper.

The temp on Tuesday dropped to 2 degree at 11 pm. Today our high is 21, the low, 7. And that's without a wind chill. So on Saturday when it's projected to be in the 30's it'll feel like a heat wave.

So I'm off now to the grocery store. I need to stock up on more charcoal and snacks to stoke the furnace of my soul for calories to burn so I can keep warm.

How are you keeping warm? Have you resorted to the pup tent yet?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Special Request:

"In one of your posts you asked what topics folks would like you to write about. I'd like to hear how you got into driving horses and what you did to gain skills and confidence."

A lost and confused tourist approaches a carriage driver and asks, "How do I get to Abravanel (Symphony) Hall?"

The smart ass carriage driver replies, "Practice, practice, practice."

My equine career began at the tender age of 12. I worked for a Grandpa-ish man who hauled Shetlands to picnics and birthday parties for children's pony rides. My job was to pick them up (the children, not the ponies) plant their butts in the saddle, and walk them in a circle. Occasionally I took a turn on turd patrol, with a five gallon bucket and a manure fork.

I made a dollar an hour and was in horse heaven.

When we moved to Missouri in 1995 I was temporarily employed as a mare handler on a stud farm, which was an interesting but dangerous job.

Pause for a Side Rant:

Slave Driver turns a feed bucket over and stands on it 1) to make her taller and more imposing and 2) because she doesn't own a soapbox.

Attention Broodmare Owners,

Just because you own a female horse that you have decided to turn exclusively into a broodmare for one of the following reasons—

1) She's lame but you spent a lot of money on her because she has a fabulous pedigree and now you feel compelled to do something with her.

2) She has a fabulous pedigree and you feel compelled to breed her.

3) She has the correct working reproductive organs and you feel compelled to breed her just because you can.

4) OR you want a home grown baby horse so you can raise it/train it yourself.

—Is NO excuse for never teaching your horse manners. A mare handler should never have to arm themselves with a riding crop because your bitch never learned personal space, how to walk nice in a halter, and doesn't want anything to do with the stud because although you think she's in season she's not, or your slutty mare wants to be serviced so bad she's gonna throw Mr. Stallion on the ground and have her way with him RIGHT NOW, ready or not, just to "Get 'Er Done."

Ground Manners. Every horse should have them. ESPECIALLY those about to experience a hormone induced frenzy.

End Rant.

Slave Driver kicks the feed bucket over in the corner, reinjuring the same foot that draft horse Hank stepped on last week. She then hops around, clutching the foot and swearing like a Long Shoreman for a while.

Fast forward to 2004: We moved to Utah. Putzing around reading the paper one morning I spy a job notice under the category of DRIVERS, right there with the OTR truckers and floral delivery folks. I am a little leary about applying because when I lived in a suburb of Kansas City they had two carriage companies tooling around the downtown Plaza. I checked into that job, and in Missouri you had to have a chauffeurs license, which is waaay too much work because I'm lazy like that. Plus at one point one Carriage company owner allegedly took a contract out on the other Carriage company owner. Having grown up in the Chicago area I am familiar with mob hits and had no desire to go anywhere near that shit, TYVM.

I call, go in and apply for the job, get interviewed by Ro, and begin my career as a horse drawn carriage driver on April 1, 2004. Yes, April Fool's Day. The Irony is not lost on me, believe it or not.

Anyway, I've never lacked for confidence and have always had an "I can do that" attitude (except for heights. And small spaces. I have a "No way in Hell" attitude about those.) Now whether or not do it well, that's another, purely subjective story. Glass blowing? Sure, I'd try that. Brain surgery? Possibly, but finding a willing test subject might get a little dicey.

Having ridden horses most of my life I figured driving them would be a piece of cake. And for me, it has been. But it also comes down to a set of skills:

I'm good with Spatial Concepts: ie I pilot a vehicle approximately 17 feet long, nose to boot, that "breaks" in the center and whose motor sometimes cannot grasp the reality that the caboose is wider than the engine. So you learn, as one does with riding horses, to anticipate certain reactions to stimuli. I'm also good at Tetris, so the question of "How am I going to negotiate this honkin' thing in that little space?" is easy for me to figure out and most importantly, experience. Boring, routine, driving around in the same circle, experience. (Practice, practice, practice.)

Recently I watched a show about the stuff that covers the connections we make in our brains. Now, because of years of liberal alcohol use, combined with several unexpected whacks upside the head, for the life of me I cannot remember all the technical names for the thing-a-ma-bobs but what it comes down to is this: People who excel at what they do excel because they practice.

The same stuff that the Natural Horsemanship Voodoo Priests sell (but they fancy names like "joining up", "carrot stick" or "Vulcan Mind Meld" and then slap a really high price tag on it): Repetition, repetition, repetition is what makes people proficient at what they do, because when you repeat the same double Salchow/jump shot/Chess game over and over there is a process going on in your brain that coats the connections and firms them up, making a reaction become a reflex. Automatic. Instantaneous.

This is why new employees start out with horses that essentially train the driver. Some of our horses, if they had thumbs, could practically do this job without a driver. Cletus makes sure the newbies stay on the correct route, often indicating where to turn right or left. Charlie had been known to, upon a trainee doing something stupid, turn and give the trainer an eyeroll and a look that says, "You're shitting me, right?" On at least one occasion a new driver neglected to attach the lines to the horses bit, instead having them buckled to an "O" ring on the hames, and drove Chief all the way to South Gate like that. (For you non-horsey people, imagine removing the handlebars from your bike and riding it like that, in traffic.) Now, had Chief not been the consummate professional he was, this might have ended very badly. But Chief, besides being a former circus horse, was one of those individuals that excelled at his job because of years of practice.

Repetition, repetition, repetition.

That’s the secret. No magic bullet, so New Pill that allows you to Lose Weight while you sleep and Build Skills as a Carriage Driver, (Oh, God, I only WISH!!!) just practice, practice, practice.

And, of course I have to add my regular caveat: You need to be a little bit smarter than the horse. And the carriage.

You must be smarter than Wesson to be a carriage driver.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Job In The Hand Is Worth Two In The Bush…

One thing I've noticed this Christmas Carriage Driving Season is the increase in the numbers of "Street Performers" out early this year. I guess it's a sign of the economic times. Usually the people who position themselves around Temple Square, playing holiday songs on an instrument and setting out a kettle for spare change appear much closer to Christmas. This past weekend, besides Patrick, who is out year round sitting on the sidewalk playing Mormon hymns on a harmonica (badly) I witnessed the following:

Jason, bagpipe player (an a good one, too) decked out in his Kilt, socks with Scottish garters, Santa coat and hat. Okay, he's a regular and occasionally comes out the rest of the year.

A girl playing Christmas carols on a violin.

A young man singing acapella.

Three middle school aged boys playing band instruments (Sax, trumpet, trombone).

A twenties-something boy and girl on guitar and vocals.

A woman and her two children displaying religious themed artwork (pencil sketches).

I see this as an indication that folks are struggling. And I know how tough it is out there because I've spent the past month helping The Kid carpet bomb local businesses with job applications. She applied, and applied, and applied and got zip.

Then a shoe store hired her— for part-time temporary seasonal help.

Part-Time Temporary Seasonal?

Yes, that means she was hired to work Black Friday.

She was hired to work one day.

So she took that job, worked that day, and returned to "Hunting" mode. Although they did inquire if she was interested in working more. She said yes. They never called.
She got a call from a restaurant the Sunday before Thanksgiving, went in for an interview, and figured she didn't get the job. Last Saturday I got a call, she was hired on as a hostess.

So, YAY!

She worked Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Before work on Wednesday we stopped by the shoe store to return a nametag and marker she mistakenly taken home with her.
The manager said, "Why are you bringing these back? Didn't we hire you on?"

She said, "No one called me."

So now she's working at the shoe store on Friday, again, and is going to have a talk with the manager about exactly what he means by "Hired on." Hired on temporarily, to be let go in January, or Hired On as in "you now have a job" hired on. Then she has to decide which job she wants to keep. Because she's not working them both. Because I won't let her. She still needs to be a teenager once in a while.

So I know how hard it is out there, and I hope that the folks who are circling the downtown area trying to scrape together some spare change by performing can get a little love. The time The Kid played seasonal music on her clarinet she did it for funzies— although she did rake in $11.00.

The only problem I see is this: If she keeps the Hostess job she needs a pair of black flip flops (which they wear with white socks to give impression they are sporting traditional Zōri sandals along with their "Kimono" which is NOT really a Kimono but a robe) and finding black flip flops, or ANY kind of flip flop in December in Utah?

Not much chance of that.