Tuesday, December 25, 2007
A Soggy Season
I have been a bad blogger, but it was a horrendous vending season (Sunday Markets, etc.), and it completely wore me out and did me in.
First of all, I think it rained just about every Sunday this season. When it wasn't raining, there were high winds. Mostly there were both at the same time. There were maybe one or two days with less rain (not NO rain) and wind. I will not go into dramatic detail of what it is like to try to put up a 10'x10' tent full of photographic merchandise, much less take one down and put everything into the car, in torrential rain with wind gusts. Suffice it to say, that I believe by the end of the season my feet were webbed.
Plus, for the first time, I lost a tent. Perhaps I should more factually say it ran away. I was vending at a show on Nehalem Bay in Rockaway Beach. Some of the other tents were sheltered by a hill. Not mine. I was directly on the bay, after being assured that the winds there were "really nothing to worry about." Right.
Anyway, I was sitting in my tent, which was rapidly sinking into the 4" of mud all around me. The wind was blowing at a steady 30 knots (no wind, eh?), and the rain was monsooning sideways. I was attempting to read a book in my dark and muddy corner of the tent a few feet from the bay's edge, when there was a loud WHOOSH! and suddenly there was daylight, accompanied by a lot of crashing noises.
As the tent vaulted over my head into the bay, it knocked over all of the tables and the card rack, sending all of my merchandise into the aforementioned 4" deep quagmire I was, by then, attempting to stand in. So much for 50 mph gusts that are "really nothing to worry about."
Four guys chased the tent down the embankment as it skittered into the bay, each one holding onto a tent leg. As they tugged it back to land, the tent top worked like a sail, and the wind kept pushing it back into the bay - it was a standoff tug-of-war for quite some time. They finally managed to get the tent back onto land, get the top off, and wrestled the whole wretched mess into submission.
Several other Good Samaritans helped me stuff the whole sodden mess into the car for the long, exceedingly cold and soggy drive home. I bought a new tent that evening, ready (sort of) to do battle another day.
Another time I was foolish enough to vend down on the docks for a cruise shit. I mean ship. Everything was just peachy until 1 p.m., when, like clockwork, the winds started, as they always do down on the pier. First I had to reef two sides of the tent. Then I had to reef the other two. Then I had to totally remove the back wall. Then things started flying off the tent walls, so I had to take everything down.
Then the card rack tried to become airborne, finally crashing to the ground and spewing cards everywhere. Bungee'd it up. Then the tent tried to take off, so I had to physically hold it down. Did I mention it started to rain somewhere in the middle of all this?
Total aggravation: beyond belief. Total sales: $80, and I stupidly paid $35 to be there. Moral of the story: Vending on the docks only lines the Sunday Market management's seemingly bottomless pockets, not mine, and is a prime example of an exercise in futility.
The next to last weekend of the Sunday Market was a saturated hell. I was soaked. My tent was soaked, and leaking by then. The wind gusts peaked at about 40 mph, so I had to reef up all around the tent and let the rain blow in.
Only a few vendors loyally showed up, but oh yes, even though we made next to nothing, we still had to pay the $25 fee to be there. Loyalty pays alright. It pays the city, and leaves you feeling like a chump. I felt like I had SUCKER branded on my forehead, and KICK ME, I'M A DUMBASS printed on my back.
The last Sunday Market day looked to be more of the same, so I called up and cancelled. I hadn't forgotten that it took two hours wrapped up in sweaters and blankets to dry off and get the chill out of my bones the previous week. I stayed home and kept the $25, thank you very much. I know I appreciate what it takes to make that $25 a hell of a lot more than they do.
I can only hope next season will be better. But then, damn near anything would be an improvement.
Click here to see Elleda's photography at the Astoria Photografpix web site