Monday, 23 July 2012

Pardon me?

Pardon me?
23 July 2012

So my main source of income is my Jumping Castle business – ‘wittingly’ called “Jump 4 Joy”.  I started it nearly 8 years ago and it truly has gone from strength to strength.  But the downside in my line of work is winter.  Boy, it REALLY sucks.  I’ve never had a fondness for winter and once I started doing Castles, I really started disliking it even more as well as taking it quite personal.  The ray of sunshine, however has to be my clients.  I genuinely like people and I enjoy meeting clients and chatting to them.  I’d like to believe that I quickly build an easy friendship with people and put them at ease and I also have the ability to chat to absolutely anyone.  However you will not believe the dof questions I sometimes get asked when I have enquiries.  And at times I really have to bite my lip and not laugh out loud over the phone.  I’ve sort of started an idiot’s rating list: 

In fourth place…..”Does the motor have to blow air the whole time to keep the Castle inflated?” – Okaaayyy! Yes, indeed as it has little air holes in between the stitching that lets air out – otherwise the Castle would pop, as in explode, as in fling kids off in the distance.  So please do keep the motor running.

In third place…..”The Jumping Castle is leaking air between the stitching.” – Okaaayyy!  Yes, indeed.  Otherwise the Castle would pop, as in explode, as in fling kids off in the distance.  Refer to fourth place answer above.

In second place…..”Do you inflate the Castle for me when I fetch it?” – Right.  That would stop traffic indeed.  Just picture this.  There you are pleasantly taking a drive, when you get overtaken by a car with a large inflatable boat-shaped Castle floating high above in the air.

However, the undisputed winner of the “I-am-an-idiot” prize has to go to……(suspense filled silence, followed by drum roll – prrrrdish)…..”Do you supply the water with the Slip ‘n Slide?” – Well, this one really stumped me.  In fact, I was mute for a few seconds after I got this whopper.  I was a bit slow on the uptake, but in hindsight, I should have said “Yes, certainly.  All you need to do is drop a whole lot of empty 2litre Coke bottles off the week before your party, and I will systematically start filling them for you.”  Seriously???  I am not quite sure if this person should be allowed to drive.  Or more importantly, propagate the species.

I am however being rather unfair.  Only a small percentage of my clients are idiots.  In fact, the majority of them are rather lovely, moderately intelligent people.  And I probably do feel a bit superior as Castles are my “field of expertise”.  And to be honest, I know pretty much nothing about most other things in life.  So, basically, I’m in all likelihood the idiot.  But please, do give me my due.  At least I get to be “good” at Jumping Castles.  Not quite sure that this is the bright future that my parents had envisioned for me, but we all have to lower our expectations at some or other point.  I mean, it was hardly likely that I would be a concert pianist, despite my Gold Medal for my Piano Eisteddfod in Grade 4.

Another area that is quite interesting is the mode of transport of clients.  I ALWAYS tell clients, that the Castles are heavy, that they need a bakkie or alternatively that their seats of their car should be able to drop down.  And depending on the size of the Castle, we also need an extra pair of hands to load.  Now, I don’t just say this because I like the sound of my own voice.  There is indeed a reason – they are bloody heavy.  And time and again some little “tannie” or “poppie” will arrive on her own with her little Toyota Corolla.  Seriously!!!  The moral of the story, is that we nearly die lifting it into the car with much huffing and puffing.  I keep hoping that I’ll get thinner with all the heavy lifting that I’m doing, but I suspect that I’m just getting stronger.  So, don’t mess with me.

But without a doubt my favourite bit of my Castle business, simply has to be the unexpected bonuses that I receive.  You know, those little “surprises” that you never anticipate.  As in the “treasures” left behind on Castles.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I don’t expect them to come back to me in pristine shape after a kids’ birthday party.  A Castle is supposed to be enjoyed and provide entertainment.  That’s it’s job, nay, it’s entire purpose for existing.  So empty sweet wrappers, packets of chips, bits of wrapping paper, the odd lollipop, is entirely the norm.  What I do find strange though is some of the stuff.  Like a towel.  A whole big bath towel.  Again, seriously!  And then there was the time I got a ring – with a lovely fake “ruby” stone in it.  And shall I ever forget the time a client rolled up a frog into one of my Castles.  It wasn’t their fault, really.  I mean it can easily happen.  The client had a lodge up in Grabouw and they used the Castle for a corporate function, running till quite late at night in the middle of summer.  They packed up in the dark and Kermit slipped past them unwittingly.  No one could have known that we would have an unexpected rain spell that lasted a few days, thereby leaving me unable to clean the Castle timeously, as we do after each rental.  Words cannot describe the stench.  We simply could not get rid of the smell.  We kept the Castle inflated for 3 solid days, airing it and using every detergent known to man, to try and clean it.  And I’m happy to report that all that now remains of Kermit is a vague stain, outlining his little froggy legs.

But this week, I hit the mother lode.  Imagine my surprise when we cleaned one of the Castles, only to find a hearing aid on it!  I kid you not!  A friggin hearing aid!  I phoned the client and she nearly wept with relief.  The birthday boy’s grandfather had helped to roll the Castle up and his hearing aid must have fallen out.  The replacement cost is R15 000, so I said to her “Pardon me?”.
Perhaps I should have hung onto it for myself instead.

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