Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tales from the Tent

Well, it is finished. We survived and did fairly well. All that is left is to return merchandise and settle up. Last night after clean up we went to O'Charley's and reminisced about some of the more interesting moments. One thing is for sure, doing something like a fireworks tent, you see ALL kinds of people. We had everyone from the lady that needed to put on a small show (she only had $20 to spend) for her daughter because her deadbeat ex-husband got drunk and did not take the 9 year old to the Nashville fireworks as promised to the guy that came in and said "I have $1,000 to spend start putting stuff up at the counter". Below you will find some good stuff. If anyone reading this has some other memory from the tent that I forgot, feel free to type it up in a comment.
Great Stories (in no particular order):
Parker "Freakin" Burgess--So I had Parker Burgess on my "back up" list. I called him on Tuesday to see if he could fill in for someone that called out. He came in on Wednesday and we had our employee of the month. From minute one that kid sold like his life depended on it. Some of his highlights include selling a United We Stand (48 shell mortar) to two guys on BICYCLES!!, upselling someone from 2 boxes of snap pops to a $34.95 multi-pack, and working a marathon shift on his very first day. He also genuinely listened to people and tried really hard to get them stuff that would make them happy.

Dude lighting a Dyno Mighty Mite right at the entrance to the tent-- A Dyno Mighty Mite looks like a small stick of dynamite. It has approximately 15 M-90s in it. Dude comes in, buys one and then he throws it into someone else's car. This car happened to be right in front of the tent (not even 10 feet away). I reached for my pistol and started out the tent after him, he peeled out of the lot before I got to him. Good for him.

The "Drunk Parking Lot"-- For some reason drunkenness leads people to want to park in the mud. We had several people park in the dirt behind the tent instead of making the long 40 foot drive to the paved side of the tent. I already recounted my story about the dude backing into the mud in a 2 wheel drive pickup and getting stuck, only to throw mud on his wife/girlfriend. Tracy had a few drunks park back there too. So, the moral of the story is, if you are drunk and you go to a fireworks tent, park in the mud.

The Bank Robber--One day when me and Michelle were at the tent this older gentleman and his wife pull up in a mid 90s model Lincoln Towncar. He seemed like a very gentle spirit while she was loud and sort of obnoxious (but in a good way). She was definitely the one in charge of this particular transaction so I started talking to her about what they wanted. Meanwhile, the man was chatting up Michelle by the register. The lady and I picked out several items and brought them up. I had noticed that the man was talking to Michelle about God and asking her about her pastor, etc. When I got up to the register he gave me and Michelle each a copy of a book called Held Hostage. He caught me up to speed--he was a bank robber for 12 years and spent time in jail for it. While in jail, a CoC preacher converted him and now he travels the country with his story doing book signings. The cool part is that he said he felt led to our tent to share his story--nothing is accidental he said. It was really cool.

The Gangsters--LATE one night Gary, Dad and I were in the tent. Gary was playing Wii, I was straightening up merchandise and Dad was hanging out. A car pulls up and doesn't pull in. Four thuggish looking guys get out of the car. Three of the four match (black pants, plain white shirts, black hats, gang tatoos) and are very, very quiet (except that one of them asked where they were). The one that didn't match did all the talking. They walked in in a line and very slowly walked around the tent--looking at everything. I did all the talking for us and acted very non-chalant (all the while I had my hand on the handle of my .380). I glanced at dad and he had his thumb looped under his shirt so he could draw his pistol quickly. I also took notice of Gary--who was now sitting down with his hand under a shopping bag (a shopping bag where the resident 9mm laid). I think they noticed our positioning (Gary watching 2/3 of the tent and dad watching the opposite 2/3 while I kept facing them and staying in front--we made a nice little triangle, very defensive position) and decided this was not the tent to rob. The did need an exit strategy so they bought some bottle rockets and snap pops and told us how they were gonna go back to Nashville and "pop off" all their firecrackers. We wished them a good evening and took a very deep sigh of relief. Was it profiling? Absolutely. Were we wrong? Maybe. Most of the cops we have talked to don't think we were wrong.

Coastal Friends--Again, me,Gary and Dad in the tent. Two dudes come up in a customized Suburban. As they get out, we notice that they look somewhat gangster-ish as well. Dad decides to chat them up about some tatoo work (did not look gang-related). Come to find out that one guy is from South Central LA, the other is from NYC. They did not know each other until they met in Nashville, just by chance. Come to find out that they had very similar backgrounds and grew up in very similar neighborhoods--just on opposite sides of the country. Now they are best friends. Oh, and the best part--he had a 600cc GSXR IN the Suburban on its side. We joked about them getting the bike in because both of these guys were pretty big (at least 250 each).

There were so many more great stories. If you ever want to really do some people watching--go to something like our tent. You see the real people. It is so much better than any "reality" TV show.

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