Friday, November 10, 2006

the perfect job

Ringling Bros and
Barnum & Baily
job fair

Ringling Bros and
Barnum &
is look for hardworking dedicated individuals for the following job opportunities.
100% travel is required for all positions


Apply in person, etcetera, etcetera.

Hmmm...that would be the perfect job. Well, that is how I feel about it right now. If I wasn't so encumbered with family, friends and other duties. If I was 21 years old again...

Here I am, perusing the want ads in the Chicago Tribune, trying to find suitable employment. The day before Halloween I got the big surprise at work. "We are eliminating your position". I was stunned. "As of today." I suddenly felt what it is like to be a zombie, walking around like all the life had been sucked out of me.

Changing jobs is not a common thing with me. I had this job for five years. And my last job I was comfy and cozy in for twenty years. I'm not used to this. It's like going into a singles bar at age 50 after you've gotten a divorce. When you haven't been in circulation for years. You kind of forget how to do things. Your skills are not up do date. And you have got to take a crash course in how to learn all the current and new right moves.

There is this nagging in the back of my mind. I keep having visions of myself wearing the blue vest and standing in front of Walmart as a greeter, pushing shopping carts.

I did run away with the carnival once, when I was in seventh grade. Well, I didn't actually run away. My parents knew I was working at the carnival in town. They gave me permission to leave on the road with my friend Steve to work with the carnival for two weeks. For a kid in the middle of junior high summer vacation, that was the best time. My first real job experience, not counting my weekly gig of cutting Mrs. Gould's grass. I lost that grass cutting job after I tried to force a wage increase on old Mrs. Gould. Don't fault me. I had no inkling, at my young age about fixed incomes and that my boss's funds were limited. I was a growing boy, and $1.00 a week suddenly seemed like cheap wages for cutting grass. She didn't want to raise my pay to $1.50. She was a sweet old lady. I miss her.

I enjoyed the work experience with the carnival. I learned how to stay up all night erecting the rides. Putting together the merry-go-round and the ferris wheel, piece by piece was great on-the-job training. But my main job was working in the food vending trailer. I got to have free cotton candy and candy apples. And there were other fringe benefits. In my two week stint with the carnival, I had two new girlfriends, and I was working on a third. I felt like a sailor, with a girl in every port. When I finished my two weeks, the girls even kept in touch and wrote me at home, sending pictures and love letters. Charlotte and Kathy. I still remember their names.

I learned how to play poker with other carnies. Two guys who's names really were Lonnie and Slim. Lonnie was man in his late 40's, having been a carny all his life. Slim was younger. A greaser who reminded me of Fonzie, but not as clean. I never realized how good of a card player my friend Steve was, until Slim got angry and wouldn't pay up when he lost a hand that Steve had bluffed. Lonnie had to break up the argument, keeping Steve and Slim at bay. Tall angry Slim on one side, and thirteen year old Steve on the other, brandishing a large crescent wrench as an equalizer. Lonnie and Slim taught us the secrets of being a carney. How to stick together in a fight. And when to run.

Looking back at the newspaper classifieds, I let out a sigh. If circumstances were different, you'd see me in the back lot behind the tent. Wrestling animal cages off of the truck. Shovel and broom in hand, walking behind the elephants. But I don't think this circus job will work out this time. I need a gig with a 401K.