Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Couldda Been A Lonely Summer

I just got some good news. No, not for me, though I'm very glad of it, but for Richard.

But first, the back story. Rich, as he prefers to be called, works seasonally, traveling with a small carnival. Mostly, now that he's proven dependable, he manages a cheese curd booth, supervising from inside the back over the hot fryer. Emphasize hot. They make four flavors of cheese curds, served with a side of marinara sauce. Only one creamery in Wisconsin provides cheese curds of the proper quality for them. There is also a lemon-shaped lemonade stand, and some games. It travels Minnesota during the summer, setting up for fairs, festivals, Gay Pride events, etc. His reputation with his current boss has gotten him a good slot to work during the State Fair, a place the boss himself doesn't work. He also works gigs in Miami at their fair March/April, and the Texas state fair in October. It's hard work, and he almost makes a living at it. He likes his boss, though not necessarily all the boss's relatives who get 1st crack at working for him. Nepotism rules.

Three summers ago he hooked up with another of his co-workers on a casual basis. It helped make the job much more enjoyable, apparently for both of them. I cautioned him that those things can tend to get serious, and to be careful in minding his boundaries, and hers.

And of course it did get serious, at least for him. For her for a bit too. She moved into town and they spend a lot of time together in their off season.

Their boss used to travel with another larger carnival group, often setting up together, sometimes splitting and setting up in separate locations for separate events. Then last year that owner bought himself a cheese curd stand and a lemonade stand of his own. This summer Rich's boss is pretty much traveling independent of the other group. However, while they traveled together they made a lot of friends.

So when this spring the other group started earlier then Rich's group, and his girlfriend was invited to come along and work for them, she jumped at the chance to make more money. The initial plan was for her to join Rich's group a couple weeks later, but she was invited to join full season. Provisionally, she accepted.

There was a bit of sturm and drang in the household when this happened. Before as well, as there were some issues in the relationship this spring also. I drove Rich down to southern Minnesota to start setting up for their first gig last week, not knowing whether she would change her mind or not. He had pointed out to her that their boss would consider her leaving a personal betrayal. He's very big on loyalty, understandable in a business with a high turnover rate and lots of work to be done. The boss would most likely not welcome her back for the Dallas and Miami gigs, and might even spoil her relationships and chances for work at the state fair. In a close-knit community, relationships are key. And those "off-season" gigs are the ones which bring in the most cash for the workers, as well as the owners.

As I dropped Rich off, she was thinking over her choices. If she showed up down there Friday, ready for the weekend, it meant she was back. And back with Rich. If not, it would have been a long lonely summer. He promised to text me with the news, whatever it was.

I didn't hear. Over the weekend I sent him a couple texts, inquiring, and letting him know some pertinent localized storm information. Still nothing. I couldn't call because his budget ran out along with his cell minutes just before this gig, and texting was all he had left. I, on the other hand, refuse to pay for something I don't use, and he can only text me - and vice versa - via my email on my computer. Apparently he forgot that part.

Yesterday Steve got a text on his phone from Rich, saying he was having a hard time reaching me on my phone. (Yeah, ya think?) However, his girlfriend had shown up on Friday! Yay, Hooray!

And I'm guessing it wasn't just the cell phone that delayed his communicating with us until Monday.

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