Friday, January 21, 2011
Eddie B Doin' It His Way
Okay, so now it’s getting stupid crazy! There are so many people here now it’s making me dizzy. Quartzsite now qualifies as one of those must do things if you live within a 100 miles. For me the transformation is now complete. I arrived here the last week of October, and this place was a barren desert outpost. Today, it’s a bustling community rife with the traffic of quads, motor homes, motorized scooters, motorcycles, and every homemade vehicle imaginable. I have chronicled the evolution process in small steps…..but in one exponential step, the baby is full grown. My food trailer is positioned on a main thorough fair for the major swap meets, so cars, trucks, motor homes, etc….are constantly driving in and around the road’s shoulder in front of my trailer. I came up with, what I considered a great idea, to put my large wooden advertisement sandwich board in a spot that would prevent cars from parking long term directly in front of my trailer. I want potential customers to be able to see my trailer from the roadway. My neighbor Jim, being the seasoned veteran that he is, bet me that before the day was out, someone would unintentionally run right through it. Of course, being the self confident man that I am, I accepted the bet. I figured that Jim was sure to lose since the board is 4 feet high by 3 feet wide and bright white in color. Surely, I thought, drivers would see it and avoid hitting it. Obviously I thought more highly of the local drivers than Jim did.
The day progressed, finally around 6:00pm after I had completed my last food order for the day, Jim and I were relaxing in my dining area talking about the days events when Jim tells me, “ Hey Eddie, turn around and look, I’ve just won the bet.” Thinking he was just pulling my chain, I slowly turned around and lo and behold, a car runs smack dab over my sandwich board right in front of me….the worst part was that the culprit was my last customer for the day. Damn it, I’d lost yet another bet with my neighbor Jim. I hate to admit it, but I was so embarrassed that I didn’t offer any assistance in getting the board back up.
The unfortunate reality about today’s economy is that big crowds no longer translate into big revenue. There was once a time when lots of people attending particular events such as gem shows, arts & craft fairs and outdoor swap meets, translated into lots of money being spent. It is now very clear that those days are a distant reminder of a time when our nation was more financially sound. As I now watch this tiny desert town bulge out of proportion with people coming to attend the various rock and gem shows, swap meets, and RV shows, I also witness the raised anxiety levels of many vendors who are failing to achieve their money goals. Yes, the hoards of people are here, yes the streets are packed, yes it’s a zoo and very chaotic, yes..yes..yes… and yet those same people are pinching pennies and are not spending any money. I think for me it’s easier to accept this reality, as I have seen it repeated at all the events I’ve participated in throughout 2010. Though, I must admit, I am shell shocked by how little money is being spent out here in Quartzsite. However, on the same note, I do feel blessed for the fact that once again, 90 percent of my business is referral or word of mouth. I never understood why people embrace me or what I do, so I’ll just give credit to my wife for coming up with whole Eddie B Cookin’ moniker and concept. However, just as in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, people here make me feel appreciated.
Speaking about feeling appreciated, I had an opportunity this past week to help out a local quartzsitian. There is this kid (25 years old +-) that frequents my food trailer. He loves the eggrolls and will often buy three or four and pay me with all the change in his pocket. Well the other day, after I had worked a long hard day….he stopped by and asked if I could help him out. He told me that his travel trailer was parked on BLM land, and that a Park Ranger gave him a citation for expired tags. The Park Ranger told the kid that he had to remove his trailer off of the BLM land that night or he’ll have it towed away and impounded. The Ranger also threatened to arrest his girl friend since she was the registered owner. The Kid told me that they had just acquired the trailer, and together they have made it their home. I felt sorry for the kid, so even though I was dead tired, when he asked me to go out there and hitch it to my truck and move it somewhere else, how could I say no. We headed out around 8:00pm. Now I have to interject here that it’s 8pm at night, in the middle of the desert, no moon, no street lights… for all you city folks out there, it gets mighty dark in the desert. We arrived at the trailer, I hitched it up and started to drive off, when all in a sudden I hear this horrendous screeching sound. I stopped the truck and asked the kid, “ Do you hear that?” The Kid replied, “Man, I don’t hear nothing.” I said, “ it sounds like something is dragging," he says, “no I don’t hear anything”. So I take a look around the trailer and don’t see anything dragging, mind you it’s pitch black outside. Satisfied that all is well, we start again. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, we reached black top pavement and as I pulled out onto the roadway, I hear that terrible noise once again but multiplied x 10. This time the sound was almost deafening. So I immediatly slowed the truck down to a slow crawl and asked the kid, “ Do you hear that, something is definitely scraping or dragging”, at which time the kid replies, “ No man, I don’t hear nothing,” and he shrugs his shoulders. At that point I glanced in my side mirror and I could see sparks flying up from underneath the trailer. Immediately I put on the brakes and pulled over to the side of the road. This time I got out of the truck, walked around the trailer and shined a flashlight in the general area of where the sparks were coming from. As I made my way around to the passenger side, I noticed the trailer was missing a wheel…..the whole wheel! I said to the kid, “Dude, it’s missing a wheel and we’re dragging the axel”. The kid just looked at me and said, “damn everyone told me I should be able to pull it with only three wheels”. I looked at him and said, “so you knew this whole time that the trailer only had three wheels and you didn’t tell me, I mean here we are screeching along the dessert disrupting other campers, and you didn’t warn me that I was pulling a three wheeled trailer”. The poor kid just sat there demoralized and said that he didn’t think it would be a problem and besides he thought I wouldn’t help him move the trailer if I had known….and he was desperate to move it so it wouldn’t get impounded. I couldn’t in good conscious continue to pull the trailer, I could damage my truck, or damage the road, or the trailer could have gone up in flames from the sparks that were flying. I was amazed at how far I’d been able to move the gimp of a trailer, after all, we’re in the desert, there are dips and bumps, and large rocks. After a brief respite, I looked around and saw a somewhat secluded spot where I could pull the trailer and park it until the kid could get a replacement tire. Well, after an exhausting day, I suggested that we return the next morning to complete the move. As it turned out, the kid found someone else to help him move it. It just goes to show, One man’s three wheeled home is still his castle and nobody takes away a man’s home without a fight. I now affectionately call my little buddy….”three wheel”.
Earlier I mentioned that Quartzsite is one of those must do things. I would like to explain that statement. I’ve mentioned before my concern that some senior people seem grumpy or displeased with their lives. I wonder if one reason is due to the fact that life is getting short for them and they have not experienced all that they wanted to. For example, I live 3 ½ hours from Albuquerque, NM. I’ve attended the Albuquerque balloon fiesta two times in five years since living in that part of the country. This event is the biggest hot air balloon show in the world, and attracts over 600 hot air balloons and one million visitors in a 9 day span. For me watching hundreds of fantastic, unique balloons hover over the morning horizon is pure joy, and reveals a sense of wonder in my soul. This event only costs me the gas to get there, and one nights camping fees, so it’s financially feasible to do it. I can go on and on at how my wife and I have spent our twenty seven years of marriage pursuing the simple pleasures of life, and we’ve always been amazed at why others miss out on life’s simple pleasures. I live in one of the most beautiful places of the United States, Southwestern Colorado, and I am amazed at how many people never venture out and experience all the wonders in their own back yard. I know for me, I’m going to do all that I can to prevent myself from becoming just another grumpy old man. I will take life for all it’s worth and live it to its fullest extent. The years go by so fast and none of us know the day or the hour when it all will end for us. With each sunrise comes the gift of a new day. We may go to bed a cranky old bird, but in the morning we can awaken to the promise of a new day and another opportunity to live that day to the fullest. As I sign off tonight Old Blue Eyes is singing, “I did it my way”, and with the good Lords help, when the end comes, isn’t that what we’d all like to be able to say. 80 plus days in a tent, doin’ it my way…… More Later, Eddie