There are a lot of good people in this world, generous, selfless, understanding individuals. Then there's everyone else.

Saturday was hot, possibly well over 90 degrees. I was on my way to the first of two days playing at a zoo with my Italian band. My dad, recovering from cataract surgery, was along for the ride only, since he can't read the music, can't drive, and can't play without risking too much exertion. We had to detour to pick up our band leader and his son, since neither of the former Brooklyn natives can drive. The son actually owns a minivan he inherited from an ex-girlfriend after her suicide, and I keep pushing him to learn how to drive it since he(or more likely his parents) are paying insurance anyway and a car is a necessity on Long Island. “I drive up and down the driveway,” he says.

We met them at a train station and were soon on our way, making remarkably good time with little traffic. At some point I noticed the son had stopped talking and realized he'd fallen asleep, something he often does when I'm driving to a job. It must be nice to have a chauffeur. He actually sounded a little annoyed after we crossed a bridge and his dad woke him up to help read the directions. “I am now,” he responded to an inquiry about his state of consciousness.

The directions had a few extra turns in them which I ignored after researching the area online on my own the night before. We found the parking lot, which the directions had designated as “free”, but were stopped by a girl asking for a five dollar fee. That's actually reasonable, but we were told to expect free parking and weren't patrons; we were working. She directed us to another kid further down when we told her “we're the band.” This kid nodded as we explained, then replied, “Well that's nice, if you folks are volunteering here today or whatever, but you'll have to look for a spot outside since we need this lot for paying customers.” I told the band leader's son there was no way we were going to find parking on the street in that neighborhood and told him to pay the man. He'd just have to get reimbursed by the people who hired us.

Times have changed. I'm young, but not so young that I don't remember what feasts used to be like for a band. Sure you were getting paid, but vendors were always happy to give the band food and drink in exchange for song requests. Maybe as tastes change, some feel our music drives people away. It's tough sometimes to see little kids holding their ears, but the ones who boast that they're playing the same instrument in school or ask to hit one of the drums make up for the others. Maybe with the economy, they can't afford to spare a bottle of water to a thirsty musician. That sort of hospitality or sympathy seems to be dying, at least in New York. Last Summer we played a job in Pennsylvania, and when we were done they brought us to an air conditioned room in a church annex and fed us a homecooked Italian meal from a lady we all wanted to adopt as our grandmother. It's nice to be appreciated.

We were told to roam the grounds for three hours playing our songs, stopping for only one specific ceremony at a tent where we played the Italian and American national anthems. Our band leader had to wave his hands to get people to stand up. More than one zoo worker asked us not to play near the ponies, for fear they'd be startled and throw a kid or two. We obliged, but about an hour later another woman in a zoo shirt approached us in an accusing tone. “I just got a complaint that you were playing by the ponies! You can NOT play in that outer walkway!” After being warned earlier, we'd only played one quiet tune at the request of some guys playing bocce ball. We were what we thought was a decent distance away from the pony enclosure, but apparently someone had complained to this woman who was now attacking us. It's rare to be hired then told “please don't play”.

The car, of course, was stiflingly hot when we finished for the day. I rolled down the windows and blasted the air conditioning, then proceeded to put my dad's eye drops in. We climbed in the car and I rolled up the windows, moving the AC back down a few notches. “Oh...could you put that back up the way it was?” asked the band leader's son, who then directed two of the vents toward him. I guess paying five bucks for parking entitled him to first class travel, though it was probably in our best interests that he didn't sweat all over my dad's car.

One down, one to go before this weekend is over. I'm not looking forward to Sunday evening traffic, to people cutting in without waving or cheating by riding the shoulder. There were plenty of good attitudes, from the band leader's appreciation to various people in the zoo applauding our efforts. It's hard sometimes not to let the selfish or unsympathetic attitudes darken a day though, but ultimately I find some of those attitudes to be a mystery more than anything else. Sometimes, I just don't understand some people.


Blogger b13 said...

Get a GPS... after a day of figuring it out in Cali, I was sold. I'll be getting one real soon.

6/08/2008 1:22 AM  
Blogger MCF said...

ell, since I basically ignored their directions and went by what I'd memorized on GoogleMaps the night before, GPS wouldn't have mattered. Directions are easy; people are difficult.

Now if there's a GPS that will drive the car FOR me, then we'll talk.

6/08/2008 9:34 AM  
Blogger Ali said...

yeah people can be crappy. :(

6/12/2008 4:21 PM  

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