Labour Day: a time to reflect on all the boneheaded jobs I had over the years.  When I think of it, my various positions as a contracted fitness instructor are the only ones that have done anyone any good, and I have one scheduled for 5:30 this Labour Day

 My first Labour Day job was at age fourteen at the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver. The PNE is an annual fair that runs the last two weeks in August and ends Labour Day. I haven’t been there since. The Fair is on presently, but I won’t be there.

 Somewhere on the fair grounds, is a decrepit fourteen-year-old strolling around the grounds dressed up in a papier maché red apple with a worm sticking out of it. Younger children with sadistic urges line up to kick his ankles and spit through the chicken wire window he uses to watch the crowd turn into a lynch mob. Older teenagers use the window for an ash tray. I won’t be there. I’d help him kick back.

 One Labour Day it poured rain all over the freezer tricycle I commanded. They dressed me in a white Maytag Repairman’s coveralls and stuck me on a freezer trike. They filled the cargo box with ice cream goodies and a metric tonne of ice. My boss was a one-armed man named ‘Lefty’ who drove to my site on Kits Beach and screamed, “Ring da Bells! Ring da Bells!” Few people buy ice cream treats in the rain.

 On yet another Labour Day I worked in Richmond as a youth worker. The agency’s youth employment program had a mall display to advertise their services.  They wanted a gimmick to attract the public to their table, so they dressed me up as a skunk. They told me an elderly actor, the late Fran Dowie, had costumes for rent. As I signed a cheque for thirty bucks for the costume, the old actor offered me a piece of advice.

  “Without the actor, the costume is nothing,”  he said while working a smoldering cigar stub from one side of his mouth to the other. “You’ve got to put on a show for them. Give ‘em all you got.”

 I thanked him and went to the mall to change into a skunk.  He was right. If I just stood still in the costume, nothing happened.  If, on the other hand, I over acted, I had an instant audience. I goosed a co-worker and got chased with a broom. I did some jumping jacks and had an impromptu fitness class. I found a six-year-old laughing so I spun the head around three hundred and sixty degrees. His mirth turned to horror and he began to bawl.  I made the actor’s costume just like the actor – larger than life.

 I don’t need to go to the PNE to see how far I’ve come in life. All I have to do is drive home along the Lougheed Highway. Today I noticed all the big box stores began their Labour Day sales events. The Brick had a sale on mattresses.  They hired a fourteen-year-old dressed as a mattress to stand on the edge of the highway and wave amicably. The thought of an animated mattress scares me. I imagine a romantic evening when, in a fit of jealousy, my mattress rears up on its handles and flips the contents unceremoniously onto the floor.  I have a king-sized futon. I might have to duck the swish of a Samurai sword.

 An animated mattress is even scarier that the guy in the gorilla suit standing on the traffic island a mile down the road. He was beating its chest trying to get paying customers into a hardware store parking lot to cash in on some free hot dogs.

 I’ve had it with dressing up for Labour Day. I’m going to take it easy. I’m just going to teach another class wearing my purple Spandex shorts with ‘DANGEROUS’ printed in electric blue raised  lettering written down one leg. That’s all I need.

 Hmmm! I suppose old habits die hard.

Mike Broderick is an Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he finds employment for people with physical disabilities. Part of this work means affiliation with the Vancouver Board of Trade where he is a member of the Ambassador Club, the Burnaby Board of Trade where he is a member of the Labour Task Force, the Tri Cities Chamber of Commerce where he is an active member of the 10X10 initiative, and the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce. He does some work as a field Archaeologist and is a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to alive magazine in Port Coquitlam. You can reach him at home at or at or at 604-464-4195.  If you’re looking for a career change, he is the Spin Doctor and can give you a resume makeover at competitive rates When he is not doing all this he lives in Port Coquitlam with his partner Cecelia.



  1. Ener Hax Says:

    wow, you are a vivid story teller! now i want to help strolling apples and have a new found appreciation for them!

    as to possessed skunks, well . . . =)

  2. energywriter Says:

    So funny! You’ve had some wild adventures. Try a furry, Smokey the Bear costume that has been sweat in by the three people whose shift came before yours. Your gym is open on labor day? Ours is county owned, so closed.

  3. Jody Worsham Says:

    Now that purple spandex may be the scariest costume of all. Now how did you meet your wife and does she know all about this?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: