so long, chip

I got an email from my mom this morning, telling me about this incident.

Police have identified Christopher Peavey as the man who died this morning at the Missouri Entertainment and Event Center. Peavey, a long-time concessions vendor at the fair, was electrocuted while tearing down his stand, police said.

We called him Chip when we worked for him year after year during the Missouri State Fair. For 11 days straight, I stood on a metal floor in a metal stand hawking foot long hot dogs and over priced soda to thousands upon thousands of fair-goers from 10 a.m. to sometimes after midnight. The $6 or $7 an hour that I was making was enough to get me to put up with a lot of shit every summer, and I went back every year until I got a “real job” when I was 22 or 23.

I learned a lot from Chip and his partner Steve. It’s weird to learn life lessons from people that sell cotton candy and corn dogs for a living – things like you’ll make more money if you bust your ass and don’t take shit from anyone, no matter who they are. Ironically, those were the best lessons I’d learned from any employer until I started at my current job. While that doesn’t say a lot for previous manager-type roles, it says more than enough about where I learned my work ethic.

I learned a lot of grown up things from Chip (and Steve) that didn’t make any sense at all to me then, but make more than enough sense to me now, several years later – like them not wanting people in a town of 20,000 to know they were gay, how AIDS can actually kill someone in the span of a year, how you don’t have to be friends with everyone you work with, and how to get a grease stain out of a polo shirt while you’re still wearing it.

I hadn’t seen Chip for probably 8 years, but every time the Missouri State Fair rolls around, I always think about the summers I spent taking shit from him because I didn’t sell enough nachos or I wasn’t filling the soda cups up with enough ice. But, damn, because of him, I feel like I appreciate everything I earn and work harder when I want something a little bit more. I guess that’s what happens when you start working when you’re 14 years old.

Chip tore down at least 30 stands probably more than a dozen times a year – thousands over the course of the years and years he’s been doing it. And today, for some reason, there was still a hot wire attached to this particular stand, and that’s all it took. It’s too much like the people that had driven over and over and over the 35W bridge every single day for years, probably being able to do it with their eyes closed, and one day, it just falls.

I guess there’s never anything that’s 100% certain. And I guess I’m kinda having a hard time with that the past week or so.

6 Comments

  1. Victoria said:

    It was an incredible shock to find out about Chip. My mom has known & worked for those guys since before I was born (I’m 23). Chip was family to me and to loose family so suddenly it hurts. I learned how to deal with the public and how to count back money in one of their stands. It will never be the same to go back to the fair, but I still have to go back and see Papa Steve. My father passed away when I was 9 and he’s like a dad to me. Chip and Steve alway cared about our family and helped whenever we needed it. So in short…Chip…We love you and you will be missed.

    P.S. In reply to an article somebody wrote about Chip. In it, it said that Steve is gay…he’s not. If you knew the whole story you would understand, but he is not gay.

    August 7, 2007
    Reply
  2. said:

    You, Travis, Dad & I will always have memories of Chip. He was a good guy. I will always remember the time Chip bought $40.00 worth of Jelly Belly candy for me.

    Love,
    Mom

    August 7, 2007
    Reply
  3. said:

    So sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. It sounds like you have many fond memories. Hang in there.

    August 7, 2007
    Reply
  4. said:

    Oh, that sucks. Really. I’m sorry.

    That’s a lot to bear in less than a week.

    August 7, 2007
    Reply
  5. said:

    Sorry to hear about that.

    What you wrote here is really really cool. I feel like I know these guys.

    August 7, 2007
    Reply
  6. david said:

    my many sympathies to chris’ close friends and family. i worked with chris at harrah’s in las vegas and i am heart broken and saddened by the tragic news of his untimely death. i hope he did not suffer. may God bless and comfort all those who knew chris and who mourn his passing. he will be missed.

    ***And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.*** Revelation 21:4

    August 9, 2007
    Reply

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