…No job? No problem. Within a nano second I had a job as a Shiller. I didn’t know it at the time but shilling was, is, highly illegal. The main thrust of this was to work with a promoter of household goods, a real barker or Grifter. Those Barkers barking their chop and dice machines, cutting boards, chamois, polishers, waxes, anything that would make the business of housework easier. My job was to go into the audience and at a predetermined agreed upon time, usually just at the end of the presentation, I would yell out: “I’ll take one.” And before you could say “sham wow” everyone took my lead and scrambled for a piece of the action. It always worked. I did have to disappear, make myself scarce, and not come back to the presentation booth until the crowd had dispersed. It was a risky business, yet a seemingly innocent way to make a buck. One had to be very discreet so as not to attract unwanted attention, especially with returning customers. I wore a wide variety of hats, different coloured shirts, sun glasses, normal glasses, even wigs if my boss thought it was necessary. My undoing was a police constable who was very observant and very good at his job. He took me aside after one of the presentations, told me that I was very good indeed at what I did but to get the hell out of there before he charged me with fraud and public mischief. I left and that was the end of my glorious days as a gangster.
What now? In what seemed to be another nano second I had a job on one of the fair’s rides. It wasn’t a thrill ride per se but a cable ride that took people across the fairgrounds, from one end to the other, at a height of about 200 feet. The “SkyView” I think it was called. It was new, it was neat and it was boring work. But it was a job. What did I have to do? When the cable car or passenger pod came into dock with the terminal at either end of the fairground it was our job to grab the leading edge of the pod and pull it on to another parallel track where it would stop, settle, and then allow us enough time to unload and reload the “great unwashed,” our code name for the paying public. It was hideously boring work. And 12 hour shifts to boot. One had to become very creative in a job like this one to wile away the time. I was very lucky in this regard being very disciplined in my work. I could revert to a Zen like state of mind all the while ensuring the safety of the paying public. The looks I received, when I could recall them of course, was a sight to behold: quizzical, weird looking stairs at my glazed eyeballs, the robotic movement of my body as I opened and closed the doors and followed the tracks to offload or on-load these morons. Silent, no words, no greetings just thoughts of “get off the effin car you stupid idiot” – or something like that. It was the only way one could survive in this mind numbing environment. I did scare the little ones.
“Mommy,” I could hear them say “look at that man’s face. He is really, really scary”
At night I used to have nightmares of this ride with the endless pods of ingratiating people. Pod after endless pod coming straight for me. The great unwashed, faces hideously focused on me as they came into the terminal. At first they were happy smiling faces giggling with sheer delight with the ride. Then, while turning toward me, their faces would transform, expanding and contracting, like play dough caricatures, into devilish looking evil gargoyles, or worse, satanic griffins waiting to devour me into their gaping mouths. It was a terrifying dream as the line of pods grew out to infinity. Pod after pod: hundreds, thousands, millions of them, coming straight at me. There was no end in sight. I could hear myself scream, and then wake up in a cold sweat: panting, palpitating, and gasping for breath. It was horrible…