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Sing, Work, Sing

This morning at church we wrapped up the Christmas season by observing the feast of the Epiphany, where I got to sing my arrangement of “The First Noel” with the choir at St. Agatha’s. That despite my coughing and sinus issues I’d been wrestling with for much of the past week, although more annoying than serious. Afterwards, I had a bunch of stuff to do. I was invited to a party at a friend-of-a-friend’s house in San Dimas, and was planning to arrive and leave early to help Wig-Wag Trains pack up that afternoon. I was told the pack-up would take 5 hours, so I had to plan accordingly.

Pack It Up, Pack It In

Things worked out eventually, as my friends wouldn’t arrive until 4, by which I had to report for work. This time, the trek to Orange County was somewhat more congested than the past two days, and upon exiting at Disneyland Drive, there seemed to be an enormous queue of cars headed to, ironically enough, the Happiest Place On Earth. I was stuck in a moment I couldn’t get out of, and as cars sailed on the 5, I had to creep up the off-ramp until the stoplight was my beacon of freedom: I turned right as everyone else made a left.

Wig Wag Packs UpAs soon as I got to the Convention Center, I started the pack-up work – basically we started by packing up all the stuff we set up. What was a game of visual display efficiency is now a game of box Tetris, packing things into boxes with the least amount of wasted space possible. George and Debra, the business’ owners have their system, and we were not to divert much from it. I also helped knock down the pegboard displays and move a bunch of stuff around, where everything would be loaded into the trailer (pictured).

It was a lot of labor-intensive work – not that I was complaining, I actually found it kind of cool and got a little workout out of moving around, placing and lifting things. Certainly more rewarding in many ways than my last dayjob. But it got me thinking; for most businesses, it’s not worth the time and effort to pack up their entire inventory, drive 800 miles to California from New Mexico, set up shop for two days, then pack it back up again. Certainly business was pretty good, as there were long lines of customers waiting to check out whenever I passed by the Wig-Wag booth. Plus, they do this at least six times a year, traveling to the major model train shows in the Southwest. And George, one of the owners, is also fighting cancer. But I would guess that the interpersonal interaction with people, some of them already customers on their website, is more than worth it. In addition, they run into other vendors and exhibitors at these shows as well. You can quantify sales figures and travel expenses, but the ability to interact one-on-one with people is priceless.

Wig Wag WaresAll of us “hired hands” were paid in store credit/merchandise. I got to pick my “loot” yesterday and hid them beneath one of the tables I set up. I came out with (pictured) a new Kato N-scale locomotive, a Kato building (to be the City Hall for my miniature town), and a couple packs of metal wheelsets for my rail cars. I did have to pay $21 for the balance (the total was that much more than the credit I worked for, no big deal) and left there only slightly exhausted, but satisfied. I would totally do this again. As I left the building I had a chat with another person who helped Wig-Wag set up and break down; he got his first set of N-scale trains and track from working the past couple days, he was just as happy. It was an honor to help them out.

Singing in San Dimas

The hometown of Bill and Ted was just on the other side of the 57, though I had no idea it was almost as far (30 miles) as Anaheim was to home (35 miles).At the party were some of the people I met during the New Year’s Eve party in Little Tokyo and there was Karaoke, where some of my friends really wanted me to sing. Sure, why not…then it came to a point where people were picking songs for me to sing, which was still fine with me — it’s like playing a pick-up game of hoops or something to an athlete. At one point, I sang Spandau Ballet’s “True” while Facebooking on my BlackBerry! Like most karaoke systems, the words weren’t very accurate, and I memorized the lyrics anyway. Although my friends left the party, I stuck around for a bit, making new friends and was one of the last ones to leave before driving another 30 miles home. But like George and Debra, the hobby shop owners from New Mexico, it’s all about the human interaction.

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