Labor Day, part 2: Ace Backwords, pumpkin patch salesman

Image result for pumpkin patch children playing


One of the best jobs I ever had was pumpkin salesman. Every year for 2 months around Halloween this guy would set up 6 or 7 pumpkin patches at different lots in the East Bay. And he’d hire guys to run the lots.

It’s hard to be depressed when you’re surrounded all day by beautiful bright orange pumpkins. And little kids joyfully romping across the lot (the kids all got to pick out their own pumpkin and they were all convinced they had scored the most special pumpkin of them all!).

The guy who ran the gig would spend the day driving around from lot to lot to make sure everything was running smoothly, and to collect the dough you’d amassed. Often you’d have a big wad of cash in your pocket, a couple of hundred bucks. And the guy was no fool. He didn’t trust any of the guys who worked on the lots. So periodically he’d send in an undercover guy posing as a customer to buy a pumpkin with a marked 20 dollar bill. And then later when he came by to collect the dough he’d look through all your bills to make sure that marked bill was in with the wad. And if it wasn’t, you were in trouble. (One time he thought he had me because the marked 20 was missing from my wad. But what actually happened was, another customer had paid with a 50 dollar bill. And I had given him the marked 20 as part of his change.)

An even better gig was: He had these little campers on all the lots. Bedroom, bathroom, kitchenette. And he’d hire homeless people to stay in them overnight to guard the pumpkin patches from thieves. How’s that for the ideal job for a homeless person. Getting paid money to live in a home.
Ha ha.

After Halloween the guy would do the same basic gig for the next 2 months setting up Christmas tree lots. He tried to talk me into taking that job, because I was a pretty good salesman. But Christmas trees was a whole ‘nother gig than pumpkins. You had to lug the big heavy trees over to the customers cars, and strap them down to the top of the cars. And hammer the stands to the bottom of the trees. Often in the pouring rain. So I passed. It was too much like work for me.

But selling pumpkins was great.