Monday, April 26, 2004

Why Save the Best for Last?

Let's start with the best story first.

We're into our third year with the concession trailer.  I am an old dog, but I have learned some tricks...mostly by getting totally screwed in certain situations.  One thing I learned the hard way is, it's never too early to arrive at an event to start setting up.  Early is good. Late is disaster.  We actually arrived LAST for set-up once during our first season, only to find all the other vending trailers had set up in a tight little group, they had given our spot away to another vendor, and there was no room left for us.  We ended up turning around and going home.  Some mistakes you only make ONCE...

It's been my policy ever since to arrive as early as humanly possible.  Which is totally against my nature, by the way.  I'm usually a "five minutes late is on time" sort of person.  So, we arrived in Astoria to set up the booth a full two hours before the appointed time.  Maybe a little overkill.... 

We were to set up in the outside portion of the festival, which was contained under a huge tent that was at least 200 feet long and probably thirty feet wide or more.  As luck would have it, we were very nearly the first vendors to arrive, so I just drove my van and trailer right under the big top and parked next to our assigned spot.  With several pieces of big, heavy restaurant equipment, the closer we can maneuver the trailer to our ultimate destination, the better it is---for me and my little 120# skinny weakling of a sister.   I had a moment's hesitiation about this, because it was obvious that I couldn't pull THROUGH the tent.  The other end only had an 8' clearance, and the trailer would never fit under it.  And there was no room to turn around inside.  I would have to BACK out the way I came in.  In my impatience to get to the job at hand, I figured I would think about that when the time came (a la Scarlett O'Hara), put it in "drive" and sallied forth. 

I'd like to say we flexed our muscles and got that trailer and van unloaded by ourselves in record time...  However, there were a bunch of men around setting up another booth, and they kept asking us if we needed help.  Who was I to say"no?"   It's all good.  I'm not such a militant feminist that I can't take advantage of men wanting to feel  Especially if it somehow makes MY life easier.  I think this must have pissed off the goddess, though... 

After a couple of hours spent arranging and rearranging the equipment to fit into the VERY confining boundaries of our assigned 10 x 10 foot space, I started to get antsy about getting the vehicles out of the way to make room for other vendors.  I very deftly hitched the trailer back onto the van, climbed in behind the wheel, and tried to back it up the thirty yards or so I needed to get out of the place.  This is when I found out that I CAN NOT back that trailer up in a straight line.  I'd back up about fifteen feet, start to swing one way or the other, curse, pull forward to straighten it out, slam it into reverse, get about twenty feet before the rear end started to swing out of line again...  All this with a bunch of men smugly watching me confirm their conviction that a woman is not in posession of enough of the right hormones to perform this particular task. 

Finally, I looked over at the chief of the event set-up crew and said, "Would you like to do this?"  half believing he would think I was joking and decline.  To my surprise, he said, "Sure."  I couldn't jump out from behind the wheel fast enough.  I have enough sense to know when I'm licked.  "(S)he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day..."

End of story, right?  What could possibly be more embarrassing than having to hand  my vehicle over to a stranger to get me out of a jam?  Well, try this:

Mr. Event Crew Chief competently backs the rig all the way to the entrance of the tent where I pulled in...and stops.  Lo and behold, the air conditioning unit on the top of trailer is about to get sheared off by the support bar of the tent.  Funny, the van went under it when I pulled in...the van and trailer with their 3000# load of equipment and supplies.  Now they are empty...and they are taller....and they are NOT getting out of that tent. 

We tried a few little tricks.  Got ten people to get inside the trailer to provide some weight.  Nope.  Took off a low-hanging bar that held the "sliding door" mechanism of the tent entrance.  Almost, but not quite.  Finally, we ended up using the old semi-drivers' trick...we let the air out of the tires on the trailer.  Enough to get it, sneak it, squeak it just under that stinkin' bar.  The whole operation took about twenty minutes, but it felt like HOURS.  While the other vendors danced around fuming that they couldn't get in because I couldn't get out.  Did I now feel like a complete and utter incompetent idiot?  Was I looking for a HUGE rock to pull my van, my trailer, and myself under when I finally got out of there?  You be the judge.

That evening on the phone, I had to ask the husband how many pounds of air were supposed to be in the trailer tires.  "Why?" he asked.  "They shouldn't be low on air." "Well," I replied, "they are when you let the air out of them..." and of course, let loose with the whole story.  He had the immense good sense not to laugh.



  1. What a hassle!  Funny in retrospect, I'm sure.  So nice to be under a tent thought.  No smoke problems? Glad you are back safe and sound.

  2. LMAO---I'm a senseless person. What can I say? ;-)---Robbie

  3. Ah, this is funny.  I can't imagine how stressed it must have made you feel just waiting to see how you were going to manage to back that thing out.  I love the Scarlett O'Hara way of thinking and going through life myself.  It can be quite handy when there's just too much going on!

  4. Scarlett is always an inspiration.  Just think about it this way, you very effectively stroked a whole bunch of male egos, and eventually you will laugh..and you're married to a man who knows when not to laugh.  Good things, really, I promise.

  5. funny! Great entry! But, wanting to hear that you ended up exhausted & rich or whatever it is was you goal (mentioned entries before).

    stories like this are where nicknames come from. THose guys were probably calling your outfit  "Trailer TOO Tall" or "Unloaded Swerve Backer" or something ...

  6. Oh my, I hope this isn't an omen for the whole weekend!!!  Kristi

  7. Can we laugh NOW??  I know it wasn't funny at the time.  You were probably on your last nerve by the time that thing was out of the tent.