Learning to Improvise

First of all, HUGE thanks for all my sweet birthday wishes! Yes, today I’m 40. Yes, I’m ok with that. If you look at our beautiful daughter, you’ll see that we old people have done at least one thing right, and maybe that’s enough? ;)

Second, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SISTER!! Yes, you’re 40 today, too. Yes, I’m ok with that. HA!

Now back to our daughter, the star of this particular show… Zoe spends Fridays with Blanca, who has known Bart for YEARS, and for the past few weeks she’s been very excited to tell Bart how much Zoe loves “riding the horsey” (one of those mechanical-bull-for-children rides that taunt kids outside many a strip mall). But she does NOT like the car. Nope. Horses for Zoe.

This weekend for my birthday Bart took me to the Outlet stores near Palm Springs (on the way back from a resort in Palm Desert for a facial and some poolside relaxing), and in addition to playing bumper-stroller with all the other budget-conscious parents, Zoe found (lots of) coin-operated kids’ rides. No horses, but a 3-wheeler, an excavator, a few cars, and Dumbo. Bart was excited since neither of us have ever seen her on one of these rides, so he fished in his pockets for coins, sat our little beauty in the ride, and inserted his 50 cents, as any good parent would.

Nothing. So he started pressing the coin return. Nothing. Meanwhile, Zoe sat patiently, just wanting a ride. And that’s when the whole business model for this “coin-operated kiddie machine” fell apart. Why in the world would you pay a penny when you could just jiggle the ride yourself? Seriously, if you turn off the sound on this video, you’d never know that Dumbo never worked (well, it did make 50 cents from us without having to perform, maybe that’s the trick?). Now, it’s not that there’s no skill involved – to create the perfect ride you’ve got to provide a smooth, even rhythm, with plenty of ups and downs. But it can be done.

So here’s a business model we can get behind: For the low, low price of 45 cents a ride (plus airfare, room and board, if necessary) you too can have Bart Johnson go to the strip mall with your child and shake shake shake (sound effects extra). He’s trained. You’ve seen the smile he can produce in small children with his magical ride-making skills. And think of the money you could save! Sounds like a win-win-win to me.

We don’t expect this new business to take off right away, but we’re sure it has “legs”. So for now, we’ll keep on practicing, just in case. And we’ll save our 50 cents for the college fund ;)

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