Monday, October 30, 2006

Meet People at the Mall

The Mall of St. Matthews
Louisville, Kentucky

Nick, who works at a children's portrait studio in the mall, is standing in line at the Chinese Gourmet Express in the food court dressed up as a caveman. People are turning their heads, pointing and staring at him as he waits his turn. Nick is dressed-up today to entertain children and be a little different by getting out of his standard work outfit. As a full-time theology student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Nick wants to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to various parts of the world by becoming a missionary. He is especially interested in traveling to Asia and Africa, but is willing to go wherever God leads him. When asked what the good news was Nick answered, "The good word is the news that Jesus Christ came down to the earth, lived the perfect life and saved us from our sins."  Nick believes that many people have lost hope in today’s "fallen world". But he says that as long as you believe and trust in your heart that Jesus is Lord, one can truly proceed knowing that there is hope. However, Nick does believe that it is inevitable the world will end. He explains, "In Revelations it states that God is going to destroy the earth with fire and those who are not saved aren't going to get caught up with him. So for those who are saved, we are in the clearing. I am not for sure when the end will happen, but my own personal belief is that we are getting closer every day just by how the world is turning out." Despite believing the world will soon end, Nick still actively makes an effort to better the world while he is still here on earth. For example, he recycles and is concerned about the environment. After all he is from Sassafras, Kentucky -- a place where the water is so clean, you can drink it straight from the pond. Nick enjoys making people laugh, so he doesn’t mind that people are laughing at him as he walks through the mall back to his job. When asked if the caveman outfit made him feel stronger, he replied, "Well, I am caring three drinks and I never really do sure."

This is Chase, and today he is greeting people as they enter the Abercrombie and Fitch store dressed in a nice, warm winter jacket, which is open to display his bare, muscular, shiny chest.  Behind him hangs a gigantic framed photograph of an Abercrombie model who is dressed and posed in a similar way as Chase. About a year ago, Chase moved to Louisville to attend college and started working at the Abercrombie store. One day his coworkers saw him with his shirt off, took a picture, and sent it to the Abercrombie Headquarters who approved for him to do this particular promotion. Last year around Christmas time, Chase went bare-chested for the first time as people paid money for charity to have their pictures taken with him. Chase usually tries to train before a bare-chest-promotion, but was recently sick and has not made it to the gym much lately. Today he feels confident, but then again he says he feels confident all the time. "People stare at me, some people give me dirty looks, some people smile," he says. So far no one has approached him for a date, but last year on Valentines Day, a little girl asked if he would be her valentine. Sometimes old women like to come up to him and give him a pinch too. Chase has become somewhat of a local celebrity and people often recognize him outside of the mall. When he's not at work, Chase never wears his jacket without lots of layers, but he does not mind the look in the store. When asked how he felt standing next to the photograph of the Abercrombie Model, Chase shrugged, titled his head, smirked and exhaled, "Ahhhh, he's nothing".

Friday, October 20, 2006

Meet Tim

This is Tim, and he has been a Tow-Truck Operator in Louisville, Kentucky for the past ten years. Before driving a tow truck, Tim worked in a factory -- a job he despised due to its routine nature and indoor confinement. As a Tow-Truck driver, Tim rarely gets bored because the job is mobile and always unpredictable. "You never know what your next run is going to be. You might go down the street hooking a guy up or you might be a mile back in the woods." Tim’s company offers both roadside assistance and vehicle impoundment. His favorite parts of the job are meeting new people daily and helping them out when their vehicle has broken down.

Tim admits that the main drawback of his job is the irregular hours. He is on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and only receives every other weekend off. Each day he works 8am to 6pm from the office and then goes home to have dinner with his wife and kids. But, as soon as the phones rings, Tim gets right back in his truck and heads to work. "Most of the time whenever you got something planned, it never fails that the phone will ring." When asked about the most awkward time he has been interrupted by a work call, Tim laughs and says, “ You don’t want to know what I was doing..."

Typically, most wives would get upset with Tim’s unpredictable work schedule. However, Tim's wife understands because she too works for the Tow Truck Company as a Dispatcher. He likes working with his wife, but sometimes gets frustrated because if she doesn’t work, he usually has to. The few days that Tim does get off, he enjoys driving racecars and spending as much time as possible with his children. He also reads "Tow Times", a magazine that keeps him informed on the latest happenings in the industry.

Tim says that, often, Tow-Truck drivers get a bad reputation because they are under contract to tow illegally parked cars. People constantly yell and take their frustration out on him, when their vehicle has been towed. Tim's approach is to not argue back and always explain that he is simply doing his job. “I know that people get pissed off every time we take their car, but they just parked in the wrong spot.” Tim says that even right now, two of his buddy’s cars are sitting in his impoundment lot. “I have to uphold my contract”, says Tim, "there is nothing that I an do."

One of his funniest Tow-Truck experiences happened a couple years ago while impounding vehicles at Phoenix Hill, a local bar in Louisville. Tim was in the process of towing a van when he found the owner drunk and asleep in the back. Tim and his partner had to remove him from the van and leave him in the parking lot. While picking up his van, the man told Tim that he woke up the next day confused and laying in the parking lot.

When asked whether Tim foresaw himself working as a Tow-Truck Operator for the rest of his life he said, "Well I am thirty six years old now, so I don't really think I'll be getting a new job anytime soon."