To the Sonoma County Fair and Back... and forth and back and forth
by Vic Centanni

Working at the fair is like having a role on "Friends". You feel a little outcasted, a little naive about your position, and a little foolish because of some of the ridiculous tasks you're asked to preform. In fact, the only difference between working a the fair and working on Friends (besides the paychecks and the long term contracts) is that people don't ask for your autograph at the fair. Usually. The thing with fairs is that everything in constructed in a short period and it feels dirty somehow. You work there every day for 14 days, making you sick and tired by day 3. (This happens because you realize you have no days off coming for 11 days and the fatigue sets in early.) It's worse because the air smells like barnyard animals (due to the high number of barnyard animals present) and the only free food you get is soda. (The company changed its policy when the employees insisted it was either soda or caffeine patches.) I wouldn't eat fair food anyhow.

On day 2, I worked 8 hours and 45 minutes without eating, stopping only to take a 10 minute break. I was too busy trying to fix the hot dog cooker at a Hot Dog stand so I wouldn't have to explain to another customer that we didn't have hot dogs, despite the signs. Too many people take signs as Gospel nowadays. It was really fun when the Health Inspector showed up in the middle of a French Fry crisis, but I won't go into detail.

Most people who work for Five Star (a catering company hired by the fair) are on a set schedule. They have regular hours at one booth. They get to come in and leave at the same time each day. They don't have to spend hours in the morning hoping they won't be there for another 8 hours and that they're off at 4 PM. Not me. I come in either at 9:30 or 11 (they tell me the night before) and they just put me in whatever booth/area they need an extra person in until they don't need me. Then I'm free to go, once they give me a time to show up on the next morning to start the Circle of Hell once more.

Apparently, I'm some sort of superhero whose only power is to magically know just how to be a waitress, use a cash register, or cook and serve a certain type of food the second I enter a booth or restaurant. That would be fine with me if I got some cool, freaky Spandex suit with a cape and a big "KMA" ("Kiss My Ass") on it, but that's not gonna happen. Instead, I fumble around and try not to seem like too much of an idiot when I stick my head out of the walk-in freezer and yell, "Where is the frozen cheese?" for the millionth time, . Just for the record, I have a horrible fear of getting locked into a walk-in freezer. It's not possible since the door won't even close when you're in a hurry and *need* it to, but it frightens me nonetheless.

It's not that I mind trying to balance 8 cups of water on a tray while trying to explain to a Scottish women why she hasn't gotten the sandwich she ordered 30 minutes ago with my boss Joe yelling at me to get a Pepsi and an Iced tea for two young men across the room when he's closer to the soda anyhow. That would fine, if Joe wasn't a dirty bastard who screwed me and another girl out of well-earned tip money (that's another story).

So I comfort myself by thinking, "at least you're getting paid." Then I remember that I don't even know how much I make an hour--and I'm afraid to ask--so I can't tell that it's really worth it. It's not a fun job. As I write that, I start wondering what an actual fun job would be. All I can think of is "Famous rock star" or "Stan Rice's creative consultant". And even those would get old. At least I'm not on "Friends".

who needs to go watch Interview with the Vampire for the millionth time so she can think about "normal" things instead of scary carnies....