By Ralph Hood
Once upon a time, long ago and far away, son Brett came home from college for the summer and calmly informed his parents that he wished to join a circus for the summer. That was the dumbest idea I had heard of and I told him so. “Where,” I asked, “did you get such a stupid idea?”
His answer was simple. “From you,” he said, “you spent a summer on a circus when you were in college. Remember?”
“B-b-but,” I said, “that was different!” “Why,” he asked, “was it different?” I was so agitated that I couldn’t think of a single reason that was different.
Wife Gail finally told me in private that I’d better get him a job on a nice circus or he might go find a job on a circus like the one on which I had so much fun (there is a difference). I saw her point immediately, called a friend in the business, he arranged the whole thing and I delivered Brett to the circus in a little town in Maryland. He went to work that day doing common labor on the “canvas crew”—which sets up the tents every day. He was the only one who could speak English and who could not speak Spanish. When I left they were all shouting at him (in Spanish) to Hurry! Hurry!
Within a month he was promoted to head of the water department and given a serious raise. By the end of that summer they promoted him to ringmaster. That was our first indication that Brett would always be promoted where ever he worked.
Also by that time he was fluent in Spanish.
Years later Brett left the circus and I got him a job as an able bodied seaman on a treasure recovery ship. Within a year he was a side scan sonar operator making some pretty big bucks. In the meantime, he taught himself to weld.
The competition among treasure hunters got pretty strong, and Brett’s company ran into hard times. Brett dusted off his welding skills and got a job with a company that made riverboat barges. Very shortly thereafter—you guessed it—they put him in charge of his group’s safety meetings (partly because he could still speak Spanish). That company later lost a big contract and Brett was on the street.
No problem, he polished up the Commercial Drivers license (CDL) he got when on the circus. The first trucking company he interviewed hired him as a driver. Since then he has driven all over the country from California to Michigan with Canada thrown in twice.
After he has been driving for them three months, he can take me with him on a trip. I can’t wait. I’ve always wanted to drive a semi. Of course, he can’t let me drive (besides, I know squat about driving semis) and I will be insanely jealous. But I’ll certainly enjoy the trip.
Hey, wait a minute! I just thought of something! What if they promote him to a manager or CEO of the whole company before I get to ride with him?
Dadgummit, there goes my ride in a semi!