Posts Tagged ‘driving’

Weather Advisory

February 27, 2013

Tuesday February 26th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   It snowed today, and that got me to thinking about how much something as random as weather can have a very real impact on someone’s business. I guess I’ve always known it, but it really hit home today as I was cleaning off my car so I could get to the grocery store before it got too bad.

It’s inevitable that snow will happen in this part of the country. If anyone who lives here hasn’t figured it out by now, they deserve to turn into human popsicles. That being said, when the snow comes exactly is a matter of random chance. We know it starts right around early November and stays until March or April, but exactly how often and on what days is a matter of random chance.

I happen to have had the night off tonight, but if I was working somewhere local this weather’s impact could severely cramp my style. I would have had to leave several hours early, and there’d probably be a lot fewer buttocks in the seats than usual – even though Tuesdays are usually slow anyway. There aren’t many places that do shows on Tuesdays, so I dodged the bullet for tonight.

Tomorrow through Saturday however, I’m booked at Zanies in Chicago. That’s about 50 miles from where I live, so I’ll have to make sure I get a super early start and get there so I can secure a parking spot and get to the club by show time so I can get paid. It all revolves around the scratch.

Snow isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it sure can be a downer in the comedy business. It tends to keep people from going out at night, at least a percentage of them. Even in a place that knows all about winter, it’s a fact of life. Tonight I caught a break, but tomorrow and all other dates are up for grabs. Maybe people will show up, and maybe they won’t. Filling any room is never easy.

Then there are the people that need the snow to survive. Plowing services and ski resorts come to mind. They’re happy whenever the snow shows up, even though most of the rest of us are not. If there’s a mild winter, we’re in heaven but they hate every minute of it. It’s never unanimous.

I’m not sure if a perfect business exists, but I know being a road comic isn’t it. Too many small things can turn into big things as far as having an audience show up, and when it goes south it’s a major disaster. Weather is never a small thing to think about, and both good and bad weather can keep customers away. Bad weather keeps them at home and good weather chases them outside.

Today I used the time indoors to finally get to the tax receipts I’ve been meaning to get to for a few weeks now. I’ve been all over the road and once again let them pile up, but I refuse to return to my habits of old. I’ve had too much pain in that department, and am going to find a way to get better if it’s the last thing I do. It’s getting close to filing time and I want to avoid the extension.

I also spent a few hours sorting out my projects into tangible piles that I intend to organize into a three ring binder so I can keep better track of everything I’ve got going. I probably should have done something like this years ago, but I was too busy working on everything else. Weather isn’t the only factor that makes a difference as to how things turn out. There are all kinds of things the self employed person discovers and has to deal with that aren’t thought of at the start. Surprise!

Traffic Karma

February 19, 2013

Friday February 15th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL/Mishawaka, IN

   The next time I move anywhere – and I hope it’s not very soon – I’m going to have to pay a lot more attention to hidden but important details that impact me more than I had imagined. Freeway accessibility is a big one, and I’ve been struggling with that issue the last three places I’ve lived.

No matter which roads I take, there’s just no easy route to get to any freeway from where I live and it’s a huge hassle. I try to plan ahead, but some days I fall behind schedule as everyone does on occasion and it’s game over before it starts. It’s beyond frustrating, but I have to deal with it.

When I lived in Chicago it was maddening. I wasn’t all that physically far from I-94, but when traffic got heavy it didn’t matter. I was going to have to wait like thousands of others, and that’s all there was to it. I could try to plan around rush hours, but it didn’t matter. It was up to destiny.

I’m a big believer in traffic karma. Some days all the lights are green and everything is smooth. Other days I’m stuck behind a big slow city bus or the road crew hauling one of those smoky tar machines that make my life miserable, and no matter what improvised detour or alternate route I happen to try it only gets worse. It’s anyone’s guess as to what kind of traffic day today will be.

Then in Chicago it becomes even more random as to how constipated the freeways themselves might actually be on a given day. All it takes it one wreck or bad weather to cause total gridlock, and that’s a nightmare too. All one can do is hope for the best, but smart money says leave early.

I’m booked in Mishawaka, IN this weekend, which isn’t all that far in actual miles. Mishawaka is a suburb of South Bend, and that’s about 100 miles from downtown Chicago. I’m in Fox Lake, which is about 50 miles from downtown Chicago but at least ten miles from the nearest freeway.

I fell behind schedule today as I tend to do frequently, but I still managed to pack and get going with what I assumed would be plenty of time to make a trip of less than 200 miles – even with all the potential pitfalls that are Chicago traffic. I’ve been doing this for decades, and was prepared.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the clogged traffic toilet that only results when the President is in town. I had no idea until I was in the car, but by then it was too late. I heard it on the radio and laughed out loud when I did because I knew I was screwed and there was no way to stop it now.

What a great Mr. Lucky scenario. I think I’m planning for everything on my trip – except for a minor detail like the President coming to town. That’s a funny scene in a movie, but not funny at all today. Laughter turned into pure stress as I watched the minutes tick away and wasn’t moving an inch. Hello Mr. Gridlock. I knew I was in trouble, but also knew I couldn’t do a thing about it.

It was three hours of fully operational hell before I made it out of Chicago. Lucky for me I was dressed to be able to go on stage immediately – a trick I’ve learned through years of dealing with scenarios exactly like this. Of course I lost an hour to time change too so that cranked the vise of stress that much tighter. I made it with about two minutes to spare, but the audience never knew.