Thursday, July 18, 2013

What Would You Tell Somebody Before They Join the Circus?

It's always good to have side projects, something to keep you busy when you're not working and as I always say "everybody needs a hobby".  Right now, one of my side projects came from the VP of Human Resources for the parent company of the show.  He asked me to keep my eyes and ears open and help him start to make a guide to life in the circus that we could send to people before they step foot in their first arena/train yard.

As a part of my interview process, the show was generous enough to fly me to the unit, so I had at least some fair warning about what life was like here in the show.  Wanting to take full advantage and find out as much as possible before I signed my offer letter and ran away with the circus, I had a few questions I asked everybody I was introduced to:

1. What do you wish somebody would have told you before you came out to the show?
2. What is the worst thing about being with the circus?
3. Why do people leave the circus?

These are obviously rather pessimistic questions to ask on a first visit, but I really wanted to know the bad with the good.  I knew that every life situation, job, relationship, etc. has both good and bad.  Should you think that you have found the exception, congratulations on the success you have had in your quest to seriously delude yourself.

The purchasing manager from the show, let's call him Carl (I don't know why I bother with aliases anymore, but I'll stick to it) actually has proven to be a fountain of wisdom and as I look back, his wisdom started on this visit to the unit.  He said: I could tell you a lot of things, I could talk your ear off all night, but nothing I could tell you could prepare for life out here with the show.  You won't understand unless you live it.

As a brief aside, one of the most interesting things about Carl is that he's around the same age as me, doesn't have the same level of education, has a pretty normal upbringing but it's incredible how he can look at a situation and very astutely determine what's really happening and how it should be dealt with.

Getting to the moral of the story, there is something that I would tell anybody who is joining the show (if they ask me, by the time they're at my desk, they are doing their new hire paperwork and it's a bit late) and it is the following: Do not join the show if you're not the type of person who can roll with the punches.  It's a great life (I still like it anyway) but there are things that happen here that don't happen as frequently in the "normal world" and you just have to be willing to adapt.  

Allow me to illustrate using an example from...today.  Yesterday, I woke up, jumped out of bed and hopped in the shower like I do every other day (many of you will understand this logical progression of my morning).  I got in the shower, turned on the water and....nothing.  My train car had somehow ran out of water!  Well, while this wasn't the result I was both expecting and hoping for, guess what:  I live on a train. It happens!  So, I went to work without a shower and without shaving.  Not my preferred way to live my life, but as I said before, in this life, you gotta roll with the punches.  Just a piece of advice to my readers, if you want reliable 24/7 access to water, don't live in a train.  My water here is very reliable, I have no complaints, but there are other people who I think would treat the lack of water as a life changing emergency.  

Life's too short, enjoy the good, forget the bad and make every day a circus day.

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