Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Chipsy Caravan

When I was 15 I took a summer job working in a mobile hamburger/french fry truck. We went to fairs and Pow-Wows all over southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The stand was owned by my friend's mother and her partner, two brash, very round and hard working lesbians. I remember visiting my friend's house for the first time. She showed me her mom's bedroom where there was a King sized bed and a hot tub that they'd built themselves. When my friend told me that her mother and Sher were "partners", I'd assumed she meant business-type. I am not the sharpest tool in the shed, as it were. It didn't even occur to me that my friend's mom was a lesbian. I mean, it's usual that two grown women, who are business partners, would share the same bed and have a hot tub in their room, right?

Anyway, I took the job, which was just on weekends, and it paid, I think, $50 a day. Back then, this was an amazing wage for a 15 year old kid. It turned out, though, that I worked 12-14 hour days and it ended up being about 3 bucks an hour, quite a bit less than minimum. I ate so much food from that damed chip cart that I'm sure they lost money on me, even at that wage.

protecting the innocent.

We travelled around in a converted school bus (yes) that had a big bed in it. Ma (my friend's mom) would drive. Sher would drive the Chip wagon. I slept on top of the the big freezer in the back if we stayed overnight. But when we drove at night, the other workers and I (my friend, and her boyfriend) would sleep in the big fold out bed in the bus. They made out a lot. I felt awkward and pretended to sleep.

I saw a lot of small towns that summer. A lot of teenage girls with hickeys. Like, every girl. To the point where it was kind of weird. I mean, I'd never  imagined there could be so many hickeys given in one small town. There wasn't enough time. How was it possible?

I made myself countless snacks of toasted hamburger buns with fried onions and processed cheese. And french fries. I was working in my gluttonous dream land.

One time, I woke up from a deep sleep on an overnight drive and I felt really awful. I went outside and threw up and was very dizzy. Turns out we'd all got carbon monoxide poisoning. We were all a mess.

We were told to sleep it off (while Sher fixed the leak). But a few hours later we were shuffled back to work. It was crazy. We could have died! I don't know how I managed to function, lugging those canisters of soda and hooking them up and then flipping burgers. I just knew I wanted my mommy.

So I quit after that weekend, citing a family emergency. A lie. My mom backed me up in that lie. Sorry, to you my friend and her mom. It wasn't your fault I got carbon monoxide poisoning. You were working very hard and trying to make a go of a business and that can't have been at all easy. But I had to lie. It's how I handle awkward situations. It's for the best.

While I think of that summer job as the worst summer job I ever had, it did, I suppose, prepare me for living on a bus, as I would 10 years later. And while the travelling was a little easier on a tour bus than in a converted school bus, it was still a bit of a grind after awhile.

But at least I didn't have to listen to people getting it on right next to me.

Or at least not that often.

It is not sexy.


  1. I can't stop laughing, except when I cry because this is the funniest and saddest story I have ever read. My neighbour has a business partner, they live together in a one-bedroom house, and these two guys choose costumes that complement each other at Halloween. For example, last year one wore a Superman outfit and the other went as Wonderwoman. This is pretty typical business partner behaviour, yes? The year before that they were a hotdog but the "bun" had to wrap his arms around the "wiener" for full effect.

    1. Yes, me too. My heart nearly exploded with over-love the Halloween they dressed as a pencil and sharpener.

  2. Where ya been?

  3. Welcome back Elpoo, you have been missed.

  4. Great story. Welcome back from the dark.