Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tour Guide?

As most of you readers know I’m a refrigeration contractor. Refrigeration service often requires squirreling up and down ladders, packing freon drums, heavy refrigeration compressors, and working on incredibly hot roofs. When I’m not on a roof, I’m crawling in basements and under houses fighting off spiders and slugs and snakes. I often have to get out of bed in the middle of the night to repair a freezer system.

If I were a horse, I would need to get my teeth filed, which is a country boy’s way of saying that, I’m getting long in the tooth, which is another way of avoiding saying… I’m… old. The other day I was whining to my wife that working that hard was painful to my body. Her reply was: “You’re getting old, you can’t fix that. You can’t retire until I do, and I’m older than you!

She went on to say that it is difficult to change careers at this age. I said: “Well, I used to be a logger, and I got into refrigeration. I had to quit cussing, doing hand gestures, and being derogatory of everything and everybody. But, I changed”. I still have to bite my tongue badly when working around a rather, (my opinion only here), naïve general public. But, I worked my way around insulting people MOST of the time.

So, I’ve been giving it some thought lately about becoming a tourist guide. The way I figure, I could get into lighter work. Also, I could get to talk to people before they talked to all the dratted newcomers that we have here. I could tell them what really happened to the creeks and the trees around here. I could tell them that the logger didn’t really cause the flood. And, the ranchers didn’t really kill all the creeks. I could teach people the real names of the places and things, before the newcomers showed up and changed everything.

The more that I think about it, It sounds like a great idea! Maybe I could be a force in taking this country back, and restoring some sanity here! At some point they might want to build a Statue-of-Me in the Garberville Town Square! Modesty would require that they wait until my passing before erecting it though. It would just be so totally embarrassing to have people fawning over me while I’m still present. I hope people can be patient though, because I intend to be around a long time. You might have noticed that I can’t even say “dead”, I refer to that state as “passed”, it’s much more comfortable on my tongue.

I had another conversation with my wife. I told her that I thought that my new destiny was to be a tourist guide, and South Fork of the Eel Canyon Expert. She told me that I could do anything that I wanted, but I should give it some serious thought first, and that I should look into how well career changes have been for other people my age.

So, I started researching, and I ran across a story about an old Irish fisherman who had decided that fighting the fishnets, the storms, and the cold long hours were just to hard on him. Just like me, he had all of the resources to be a great tour guide! He already had a boat, he knew more about the sea, and the fish, than anybody else. He knew all the names of all the places, and all the history. He was a shoe-in as a Tour-Guide. So he decide to do coastline sea tours. On his first trip out he had a group of Americans on his boat. The old man was not too fond of Americans, because they are too noisy and very insistent, he always found Americans to be annoying.

He was busy pointing out the names and places,. It was going well, things seemed to be going just fine. He was beginning to enjoy his decision to become a tour guide. As he was passing a dive boat, he was explaining that the divers were researching an old Viking shipwreck that they had discovered in the harbor. One of the American men asked: “Why do the divers fall off the boat backwards?”

The old fisherman was annoyed that the American interrupted him with a dumb question, but he was very polite and explained that they probably just liked to do it that way, and was starting to go on with his tour. The American, not satisfied with the answer, said: “They told me that you were the most knowledgeable man on the coast here, and we paid you good money for this tour. Do you mean to tell me that you don’t even know why divers fall of the boat backwards? The old fisherman, becoming annoyed, decided to just give the American his best answer. He said; “Wall, if they fell forward, they’d still be on the focking’ boat wouldn’t they?”…

Maybe I’ll just keep packing compressors…


e

11 comments:

Joe Blow said...

Ernie, If reading your blog says anything about you, you've already changed your career and don't know it... Yet.

PS. Don't tell anyone I read some of your stuff from time to time.

e. said...

I agree with Joe.

kymk said...

Ernie,
I think you already have a lot common with the fisher guide--you're knowledgeable about your area of expertise, you're a tad crusty (I mean that in the nicest way), and you're dang hilarious.

Thanks for the belly laugh.

Now to go find someone to inflict that joke on.

Anonymous said...

Crusty old fart I'd, just like some of the rest of us.

Oregon

Ernie Branscomb said...

I like Kym, she say's the nicest things. Like, how many people do you know that can call an old man "crusty" and get away with it? I felt warm and fuzzy all over!

I got to thinking… if I was more like Kym, it would smooth my way to becoming a tour-guide, So I went out to the park behind my store, where my future memorial statue will be erected. I found a bum hanging out on the bench. I walked up to him and I told him “You smell like crap, but I mean that in the nicest possible way”. I was already smiling, thinking that he would probably feel as warm and fuzzy as I did when my red-head friend called me crusty. He got all pissy, called me names and was trying to get his dog to bite me. Fortunately, I think the dog was on my side. The dog had a look on his face like: “You should have to sleep with him”.

Anyway, I’m going to have to regroup and develop a plan where people will think that I’m nice. I’ve been studying John Edwards. He seems like such a nice man.

Ekovox said...

I must ask....who will take over the refrigeration business when you retire or, dare I say, become a freon cloud in the hereafter? Any notable young guys in Garberville learning that trade? Yeah, probably as many as there are young diesel mechanics.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Eko
I used to work by myself for years, then I got shamed into hiring people. My customers would complain that I needed more help, so they would have better service.

As I hired and trained people, business got better. To keep my crew busy year around I took on appliance repair. I had already done appliance repair for years, so it wasn’t like I was jumping into anything that I didn’t already know. I was able to train appliance repair people. But, appliance repair was busy year around, so it only added more to what we were already doing. I started doing heating and air-conditioning. Heating and air-conditioning was also busy year around.

I tried to convince my crew to take their vacations in the winter when it was slow. No frickin’ way. They all wanted summer vacations. The appliance repairman that I had at the time would come to work all winter, when there was hardly anything to do. Not wanting to ruin the crew structure, I tolerated him coming to work all winter, and mostly sit at his deck. I begged him to go visit his “poor sick mother”, but nooo… he couldn’t afford it. The next June he announced that he was going to visit his poor sick mother, and that there was nothing that I would have to say about it. I showed remarkable restraint, I didn’t kill him. But, I did very calmly tell him to go ahead and take his summer vacation even though it was the only time of the year that I could make enough money so I could pay him to sit on his sorry ass all winter and collect his wages.

I very calmly told him that he should go take his vacation, but do not under any circumstance should he ever let me see his sorry ass again, and that if I could do with out him in June, I sure as hell didn’t need him. He though I was kidding, I assured him I wasn’t, and if he didn’t understand that, it was only part of the problem. I closed the appliance division and completed all of the warranty work myself.

The rest of the crew took care of itself through attrition. They found that their skills, that I worked so hard to give them, were far more valuable in the lights of the city. I have no hard feelings they were good people that just wanted to move on. My only bitterness was that I cost me a ton of time and money training them, and just as soon as I was poised to make money on their labors, they left. One air-conditioner guy actually came to me already trained and even taught me some tricks, so it wasn’t all bad.

I really don’t care who takes my place, but I sure that someone will. They WILL miss me when I’m gone.

As it works out, I only work when I have work to do, then in my spare time I work around the store. I work year around now. Stay busy, stay happy, and as my old friend Wimpy Wilbur used to say “I let the tail follow that hide”.

Anonymous said...

I sure wish I could write like you do Ernie. You make pictures with your words.
Write a book. Write several. Even your lady, who knows all your yarns, and loves you anyway, would read her copy and look forward to another volume, just like me.
Kim

Ross Sherburn said...

So???? Rockin' Chair money comes in the Summer now????

Ben said...

Ernie... I have a brilliant idea for you! First get an old bus, cut he top off, get some hippie to paint wild designs on it and do Avenue of the Giants tours. So... What to call it? I know, the Squirrel!! It could work.

Anonymous said...

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told me about this.

I think this is best!