Friday, August 5, 2011

Often Boring, But Rarely Dull

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

"Is your job fun?"

"Do you need a special license to be a carriage driver?"

"Animal abuser! Why don't you get a real job?"

"Do you meet a lot of interesting people doing this?"

FRs (Frequent Replies)

"Is your job fun?"

Sometimes. The day Ro and I did this gig was fun.

But not always. For example, Tuesday night when it suddenly poured on us for twenty minutes straight, I would not describe it as fun. I would call it painful, awkward and moist. My customers, who were safely ensconced in a carriage with the top up during the downpour, called it fun. Of course they got to go home and change; I remained stuck working outside with a raging case of what we fondly call swamp ass.

"Do you need a special license to be a carriage driver?"

No. The requirements in Utah are as follows: you must be twenty-one and hold a valid Utah drivers license. We teach you everything else you need to know. However, I do believe you need a special license to drive this:

"Animal abuser! Why don't you get a real job?"

Here is a video of some horses who were running "free" in a pasture (out of the public eye, and under the control of only a few people)

One of our horses… no starvation or neglect here, plus hundreds of people see our horses Every. Single. Day.

"Do you meet a lot of interesting people doing this?"

I guess it all depends on your definition of interesting… This guy was hitch hiking around the country asking people what their American Dream was. He used to have a website, but it was shut down because he couldn't afford the hosting fees. I don't know why he hasn't gone with Blogger or another free blog site, but if you're on facebook, here is a link to his page.

This guy was not as interesting:

In fact we had to get Temple Square security to chase him away. But it does make for some lively conversation. And no one has a collection of photos from their work quite like I do.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Middle Of The Road

I got a call last week from the barn asking me to drive carriage in the Days of '47 Parade.

And now, a short break for some exposition, with a side of rant:

For those of you new to the Confessions of a Slave Driver blog, it would behoove you to understand that I hate, hate, HATE driving in parades. Why? Because they don't pay squat. Most of the time the best you can hope for is a mild case of heat stroke and all the candy that ends up by your feet after being pelted with it by miniature hooligans, AKA children. In the mean time I've gotten up at the crack of ass, driven eighteen miles at dawn to play hurry up and wait while the vehicles are readied/decorated. Then you rush over to the parade staging area where you stand around and wait until it's your turn to join the mêlée. After plodding for what seems like 200 miles at four miles an hour, if you're lucky, and two mph if you're not, you arrive at a massive cluster of disarray and pandemonium reminiscent of the Gladiatorial games in Rome only to have your occupants, who usually have no idea what they are supposed to do next, jump ship with little more than a "Have a happy day."

Yes, thank you and may your day be absolutely fantastic! As it is, I'm roasting, have to pee real bad, and I'm so hungry that the plump haunch of my horse's rear end is starting to make me salivate. So the 'happy' part so far is not materializing… right now I am just having a day.

In fact I dislike parades so much that the opening of my first novel, The Carriage Trade, begins with a frantic dash to a parade where the stress level goes from bad to DEFCON 5.

End Rant. Exposition continues:

Anyway, the Days of '47 Parade celebrates the arrival of the Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. I am not Mormon, so none of the festivities really applies to me. I have a personal prohibition about working on drinking and/or firework holidays such as New Year Eve, Independence Day, and, in our family at least, Easter. This prohibition also applies to Pioneer Day. Why do I avoid working on those days? Because I'm usually drinking, and blowing off fireworks. But not this time; this time I was bullied into participating by co-workers MBA and Ro. Both of them had agreed to drive. So after MBA pulled the friend card, I was force to capitulate.

MBA driving Tony

I requested to drive Rex because I've driven him in parades before and he's solid as a rock. Plus co-worker Bobbie asked to join me on the box as she had never driven carriage in a parade before. So while Ro, driving Tom in front of us, and MBA, driving Tony behind us, had to serpentine the entire route, thus effectively walking twice as far as Rex did, we went straight down the middle of the road. Which probably looked boring, but at least we didn't come off as intoxicated with the swerving back and forth the whole way. Both Ro and MBA claimed to be a little queasy upon completion.

Ro driving Tom (you just cant see him)

At least the parade was uneventful for us.
For the Royalty Float, which was enveloped in smoke spewing from the motor compartment, not so much. But we went out to lunch at the Red Iguana* after, so it turned out to be a good day after all.

Except maybe for this horse who either cannot read or else is just a scofflaw when it comes to legal parking.

*The Red Iguana is a fabulous Mexican restaurant. Actually, there are two, RI1 and RI2. Red Iguana 1 was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives so it's always packed. Red Iguana 2 is a "known only to the locals" annex around the corner from RI1. The food is outstanding.