• The Most Worthless Valuable Experience

    Towards the end of 2001, and sometime during the fourth of July of

    2002, my father operated a fireworks stand owned by Alamo Fireworks.

    Alamo, at the time, possessed quite a popular line of products, such as the

    Goliath, El Diablo, and of course the more common items such as punks,

    sprinklers, cherry bombs, firecrackers, etc. Quite the common fireworks

    company, Alamo. For most people, they owned the basics of any company fit

    for pyrotechnic entertainment. Rather than having only products that they

    themselves made, they owned some of their own, as well as products from

    prestigious companies, such as Black Cat and Shogun, which made them

    something of a conglomerate, of course.

    At the time, Texas (or maybe a broader area in general) began to

    undergo something of a state-

    wide depression. My father worked for a communications company and, due

    to the company's financial issues, it became necessary for them to fire him (or

    as the politically correct people care to call it, laid him off). He tried finding

    several odd jobs, but all were in vain, until he looked towards Alamo

    Fireworks. Towards mid-December, he found his first season of employment

    with the company. To start off the season, my father “hired” me to help him at

    the stand. Things went well for a good while, albeit slow. For the first few

    weeks, we accomplished absolutely nothing aside from hauling explosive-

    laiden crates from the delivery truck to a large grass-and-sand field, and from

    there to the stand, cramming small boxes of fireworks next to each other in

    the stalls, and the underneath the counters and underneath the firework

    stalls as well, making the area quite cramped and difficult to navigate around.

    That year, though, my grandparents (who resided in Las Vegas, Nevada at the

    time, and still do) requested to see me, and wanted to spend my summer

    vacation with me, thus I was unable to see the results of the “expedition”. In

    my place, my sister, and as the season wore on, my step-mother joined in the

    fray. By the time I returned back to San Antonio, the season was already

    over, the flashy, colored fire hungry masses gone, and my father again

    searched for more work.

    Like the previous months, we barely managed to get by; working on

    small jobs, eating only what we could afford, and at that time, being home-

    schooled. Several months later, though, my father again turned back to

    Alamo. This time, though, we needed to endure two holidays: Christmas and

    the New Years. Like the year before, the main task involved getting the crates

    of explosives stocked into the stand. Also like the year before, we lugged the

    heavy crates of explosives from delivery truck to a field (a different one from

    last, as it happened. The last time, there existed no competition. Now,

    however, directly across the street was a stand from an opposing fireworks

    company), and from the field to a the stand. A few weeks later, and still no

    customers (for either of us carnies), yet another delivery truck arrived, and

    threatened to test our space-management skills. Along with the load this

    time, instead of just the heaviest crates you ever lifted, they brought us a few

    props. They happened to be a massive purple gorilla (I assume) wearing a

    shirt with some sort of flashy advertisement, and a roughly six-foot tall wind-

    catcher creature. Similar to the previous year, we saw few customers until we

    approached the chosen holidays. In some situations, one may believe for a

    moment that they were being rampaged by a horde of zombies, who's only

    pleasure came from us taking their money and giving them cheap and flashy

    explosives. As the days passed on to nights, and the nights fell away, more

    and more customers appeared before the stand. Masses between us and our

    opponents waited in the longest of lines for our expensive yet near worthless

    products, and fought back by only six or seven of us at the cashiers. Through

    all of this, though, the worst moments came upon us between the Christmas

    day, and New years, due to all of the late and last-minute shoppers. For

    those few days and nights, we worked from dawn until usually the middle of

    the night. The hordes of people around us, the flashing lights from the signs

    above us, the constant silent shouting and loud voices which allowed for

    nothing to be heard except for the voices of those closest to the stand, the

    occasional blast of fireworks being lit in the center of the field, and the

    crowded aisle in the center of that stand...I somehow find it all amazing when

    I recall the moments.

    Roughly about a week after the New Years' Day, the arrival of

    customers came to a grinding halt, forcing us to pack up everything, clean up

    the stand, and go back to the Alamo Fireworks head quarters to receive our

    pay. After giving us the remainder of our paycheck (they took some of our

    profit for malfunctioning products, products that never sold, and the products

    which were sold in packages that managed to arrive in parts), we fairly

    decided to split the remainder between my father, sister, mother, the three or

    four others who aided us, and myself. My sister and I pooled our shares

    together, equalling something along the lines of $216, I believe, and decided

    to buy an entertainment system with it. Eventually, my father found a job with

    another communications company, located in Austin, Texas, before again being

    laid off. The poor thing about it all, though, is how horrible my experience

    looks on a resume. I could talk about the experience of all those dreadful

    nights all I like - of all the customers that required serving, of the rush, the

    pressure, and of course the need to find more energy to keep you going when

    you have absolutely nothing left – my employers all tend to think alike, that a

    man who worked with fireworks, simply can't work behind a fast-food counter.