Friday, September 28, 2012

Fair-ly Strange Work Adventures

So, every year I represent our company at many, many events, of which in Fall means I am at multiple state fairs.  I have a love/hate relationship with fairs.  For most people, the idea of the fair is a day out with the family, riding the rides, eating cotton candy and caramel apples, and having a good time.  For me it is something else entirely.

The fair for me is where I am going to make my living, sure, but it has so many other things built into it.  I am going to spend my days and hotel nights with the same group of people for 10-21 days straight; longer if we do more than one fair in a row.  I need to like them, be able to put up with the idiosyncrasies (and them mine) for the whole time, and know that there is no escaping that until the end. I get to hear all about their health ailments, medications, diabetic blood sugar numbers, and the like.  I have learned to deal with that.

I am going to eat fair food for weeks on end.  Day One of bright, shiny lights is like "Oooohh, caramel apples!  Look - elephant ears!"  Day Twenty is "what can I eat and not spend the day in the restroom and deplete my bank account?".  I can only eat so many PB&J or ham sandwiches.  I have to eat at the fair.   Diet food is not sold at the fair.  I have learned to deal with that.

What is the weird thing I haven't learned to deal with - at least  in  a nice way and not in a stare-at-the-accident-as-you-drive-by way - is the people.  I have told EVERYONE I know that the fair is NOT like other events.  Anyone with $2.00 off a soda can can get into the fair, and - you might not know this - there are HILLBILLIES in every state.  It is true.  You might not see the hills, but the people are there. You don't see these people at the bank, or the grocery store, or at church with you on Sunday.  You only see them at the fair.  And I am simply not a nice enough person to look away - I NEED to gawk.  I can't help myself.  I know this is wrong.  I just can't seem to help it.

Now, I have managed to not start a website called "People of the Fair" in the likeness of the "People of Walmart" website, but only because I am more cheap than voyeuristic and don't want to pay for the website.  However, here is a small sampling of what I have seen in the past two months (locations to remain anonymous to protect
  •  A grown woman - who was NOT mentally handicapped - dressed as a ballerina because she liked them and just wanted to do something different to come to the fair (Succeed!)
  • A very, very long "rat tail" (remember those, sadly I do too), beaded, down a man's back
  • A discussion in my head that went "When is it time to just say no to the miniskirt?  I vote when your varicose veins are showing and you're in your 50's...."
  • A man - who was NOT a Hari Krishna - with a shaved head EXCEPT for the 8"-10" quarter sized plug of hair in the middle of the back of his head, braided
  • A vendor who played Cher music on a loop, all day, with only about 6 songs on that loop
  • A game in my head that goes "When did you jump off the Fashion Train?"  With answers such as "1975" (shirt unbuttoned to navel with hairy hairy chest showing , "1965" (way to be a hippie stereotype), "1981" (popped collar and your 40?),  etc.  This is a game that can be played anywhere, but gets the most action at a fair...
  • A lady (she had to be over 18) who chose to get two visible tattoos - and immortalized on her body forever was on shoulder #1 - the roaming gnome on a swing, and on shoulder #2 the Pabst Blue Ribbon label.  All I can think is "the iceman is over 10,000 years old and they can still see his tattoos.  This is what you are proudly displaying on your body?!?!"
  • Bad face painting - we saw a child that had what was unfortunately supposed to be either a balloon or a snake painted on his face, but only looked like, well, a sperm.  It caught more than just my eye and may have scarred my 21 year old son for life (His grabbing my arm, and saying, "Is that....sperm...on the little boys face?!?!?"  will remain with me all my days...)
  • Crash bandicoot scooters - hugely large people on scooters who ride them at 40 MPH crashing into booths and making you wonder why a license to drive isn't needed for them
  • The hundreds of scantily dressed teenage girls, moms dressed to look like scantily dressed teenage girls,and the number of underwear seen from sagging pants on teenage boys 
  •  A woman who started a conversation in the restroom line - and continued it with the door open while she used to facilities - so that she could continue the conversation making eye contact
So these are things I see on a regular basis that keeps that song from Deliverance going through my head for months on end.   Every year.  I want to be nice and not notice.  Or not gawk.  But no, I stare and blog (but I don't point; that calls attention to me).  I may never learn to be a nice person.  At least fair season is almost over.  Until next year...