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.