Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Pirate Gig!

Last April Ro got a call from Christus St Joseph Villa, a senior living center in Salt Lake City. August of 2009 we hauled Charlie Horse and a carriage over and worked their Pirate themed Family Day. We had a blast. Prior to last year, "The Boys", also known as Hardrock and Coco, were the employees responsible for this job and they approached it with their normal laissez-faire attitude. In other words, they never dressed up for the part. But because Ro and I did, the lady in charge of the event fell in love with us.

Anyway, last April Ro got the call, "Would the carriage company please reserve August 21 for St Jo and could Ro and Slave Driver be the employees who work the event?" Because the Pirate theme was so popular last year that they were thinking that they'd do it again, but only if Ro and I were coming, otherwise they'd go with a different theme.

Thank god, because if it'd been a Luau, our choice of costume would have been a 'Hula Girl' or the 'Roasting Pig'. Neither of us can pull off 'Hula Girl', at least not without making everyone sick.

Well, Ro responded, "Hell YES we'd be there!" And then she called and had me circle the date in big red marker in my appointment book. And then she reminded me several times over the course of the summer. And when I signed up to work on that night because I forgot she erased my name and reminded me again that we were doing what we lovingly call "The Pirate Gig."

This year St Jo had a surprise waiting for us, a big ass Pirate Ship stationed at the entrance… Charlie is just about the most "street broke" horse you'd ever see, but I still asked Ro to jump down and walk next to him while we passed it. Charlie has to work with frail and old, and getting him jacked up right before we stick frail and old into the carriage is not a great idea. But he passed it with only a glance, and was his usual funny yet professional self.

Some of the residents don't want to ride, but they do want to see Charlie.(Obviously, Ro and I play second fiddle to Charlie. Just like downtown, nobody gives a crap about the driver, it's all about the horse…) So, their assistants will wheel them right up under his nose. Charlie is great with both kids and people in wheelchairs. The chair doesn’t bother him a bit, and he drops his head so they can cuddle with him. We have horses at South Gate who, if given the opportunity, will use a human as a scratching post, rubbing their big head all over them. But Charlie never does that, which is good, because a horse can head toss a child like a Hacky-sack.

We integrated a few new features to both Charlie and the carriage this year. On the carriage, we added a big flag complete with wire so it's continuously waving (thank you, MBA, for the suggestion) and little flags on the back. The parrot we got for Ro ended up on the carriage dash, as it wouldn't exactly sit on her shoulder without looking like a prop in a Monty Python sketch.

I added a beard and moustache to my costume, to enhance the air of scallywaggery to my pirate carriage pilot character, and Charlie got a hat with a red plume and a colorful little hair extension with carrots on the end. Sorry, but pony beads in a horse's mane is too much of a pun.

Anyway, I know the real reason you tuned in is to see the photos. So here they are:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How To Tack Up Your Draft Horse For The Vertically Challenged:

1) Ask to work with the tallest damn horse in the herd.

2) Get your horse's headstall.

3) Beg your horse to "Please, please, please, drop your head."

4) When the begging and pleading fail, get a ladder.

5) Climb up the ladder, risking a neck-breaking incident, and apply bridle.

And, of course, right about that time your horse will drop his head for you.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Carriage Driver's Work Is Never Done:

Educating The Equus-Ignorant, One Person At A Time.

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it."

—The Character of "K" from Men In Black.

Last week I took two photos of Charlie Horse's legs and uploaded them to facebook. This is what they looked like, accompanied by the captions:

"Ooooh, is your horse's leg broken?"

"Yes, see? Now the other one is broken."

I was joking. Mocking people who walk up and tell me that my co-worker has a broken leg. It's amusing at best and irritating at worse. However, it's not nearly as annoying as people who feel compelled to tell me about the episode of Seinfeld where Kramer feeds Rusty the carriage horse Beef-a-Roni. Because really, people, that shit never gets old.

( Insert eyeroll here —> )

But I digress…

On Saturday evening I noticed a drum-circle type young man skulking around the street side of Kar's carriage. She went around, found him taking cell phone photos of Bart's rear leg, and asked if she could help him. He immediately launched into an angry diatribe about documenting the fact that the poor wretch couldn't even put weight on his leg he was in such bad shape.

Kar stood in front of him, bent one knee and asked, "You mean because he's standing like this?"


"He's resting that leg, just like I am."

(Had it been me I would have added "you dumbass" at the end of the sentence, but Kar is way nicer than I am.)

Then Kar asked him if he just wanted to make assumptions, or would he like to be informed. He actually chose information, and by the time they were done conversing, he came away with a new understanding of equine physiology.

Kar was also admonished to "Free your horse, you bitch!" while walking Bart on Main Street, which would be a little awkward being that we're smack dab in the middle of downtown.

Oh well, one moron at a time, I guess.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Don't Call Us, We'll Call You...

I found out this week that I will not be working Gardner Village this October. Did they call and say, "Thanks for doing the witch thing for us but we're going in a different direction this year." No. Did they send us a pink slip to let us know we were no longer of service? No. How did I find out then, you might wonder…

I went on their website and looked on their October Calendar, where it states that "Ride to a Witch" will take place select weekends from Oct. 1—31, and you ride on a restored antique truck…

Okay, so that means we're out. Because I don't haul the folks around on the bed of a restored truck (which, by the way, is beautifully restored. And I hope it's mechanically sound. Because we kept two tractors out there, just in case one broke down, and two flatbed trailers, for the same reason. At one point last year Hard Rock had to run to a tire store and buy a new one because he got a flat and the tire shredded. So if their truck breaks down, they're f*cked. Because for $5, nobody's gonna "Walk to a Witch.")


I'll miss Gardner Village. It was an easy yet lucrative gig; it was eight minutes from my house, and I was home and in bed by 10 O'clock. Plus I got to work with Ro, which is always fun.

Okay, onto the "real" blog.

Last week carriage driver Kar and I were standing around shooting the breeze, trying to look busy when she suddenly said, "Guy in a skirt."

I, being my usual intelligent and observant self replied, "Huh?"

Kar pointed down the sidewalk and repeated, "Guy.in.a.skirt."

So I squinted, and tilted my head sideways and finally saw him waaaaay down the block.

Now, being me, I grabbed my camera and tried to get a photo but of course he was so far away it was difficult to make him out. So I left my camera on my carriage within grabbing distance and waited. Eventually he arrived at our location and instead of giving us a "WTF are you looking at me for" look he walked right up, introduced himself, and asked us if we would be willing to write down our idea of "The American Dream."

So I ignored that and right away asked if I could take his picture.

He actually has okay posture, he's just all hunched over like that because of the backpack. Turns out his name is Aaron Heideman and he's travelling the lower 48 states, asking people to record for him their version is of the American Dream. Yes, citizens, he's a writer. Now, back to the skirt. It's not often we see men wearing what is traditionally considered women's apparel. And when we do, they usually have their arms wrapped around a set of bagpipes, which indicates that they are not in fact in a skirt but are wearing a kilt which is different. Plus if you call it a skirt they will beat you senseless with their bagpipes. Anyway, what Aaron is wearing is not a kilt, nor it it exactly a skirt, it's a utilikilt. And he says it is very comfortable and good to travel in.

Imagine if Carhartt made cargo skirts in that ugly Carhartt tan, for men. Now imagine if all the construction workers started wearing them. Now imagine they all have to climb ladders, and ask you to hold the ladders for them.

Ugh. Never mind. That's just nuts.

Anyway, you can read all about Aaron's exploits at
American Dream Or Bust