Busking for a living

I was living in Calgary when I finished film school.  I had a job offer on the show North of 60, but the job didn’t start for another month.  My school funding had dried up and I hadn’t perfected the art of grant writing, so I had to fend for myself.  I took a job as a mover, for one day.  We moved three families in one day.  I made six bucks and hour.   My back still hurts when I get up too quick.  The only good thing was getting paid at the end of the day.  I took my forty-two bucks and flopped my tired carcass down at Wendy’s and yelled my order from my booth.  The kid must have felt for me cause he brought my cheeseburger and fries over and let me pay later.  There was a liquor store across the parking lot and a busker was doing good business with the Friday evening crowd.  When my buzzer went off the next morning at six-forty five, I unplugged it.  I bought a new set of guitar strings and was venturing into another slice of my life, as a busker.

            This one particular liquor store, I found out, was a hot spot for buskers.  I guess the neighborhood had its fair share of boozers and if you know boozers, them and their money are soon parted.  So I parked my guitar case by the door and began honkin’ on some old tear jerkers.  It wasn’t long before the loonies and toonies started piling up.  I guess I was doing pretty good cause this one dude in a wheelchair shared his mickey of Vodka with me and hung out listening to me play.  I grew up with classic C&W (country AND western) so I had a good handle on Hank and the boys. 

            Well, about an hour into my show, this other hombre shows up with his guitar and says I’m taking his Saturday afternoon spot.  He said that was his time slot there.  Like a hillbilly, I believed him.  The truth was I got suckered.  Cause my wheelchair buddy said that guy was a “Busking Bully,” he muscled and lied his way into the best spots.  So the next day I took up residence at that same liquor store and started my show.  That same fool comes back an hour or so later and says it’s his turn again.  I didn’t even break a stride on my version of “Dead Flowers.”  “IT’S MY TURN” he was yelling at me.  He stood there till I was done and tried to lie to me saying it was his turn.  Well I wasn’t going to let my income go that easy, so I did the only thing any self respecting busker would do, I told him he’d have to fight me for it.  I hadn’t shaved in three days, was smoking a cigarette butt I’d found, and was wearing a pair of curled up cowboy boots.  For moral support, I had my wheelchair buddy yelling at me to kick his buttocks.  “You suck Melvin, kick his a** Chief.”  Well, Melvin sulked away and I went back to strumming.  I played for another two hours and made more money than I had working as a mover.  I took my wheelchair buddy out for chicken wings and hired him as my promotions manager.   I couldn’t afford to pay him so I’d either buy him a bag of potato chips or fill him in for his mickey of Vodka.  So whenever I see busker, I tried to throw what change I have in their guitar case.  Owww, my back is acting up again.


About inuvik61

Filmmaker, apprentice bluesman. columnist, father, husband, master, and champion to all those who missed their boats.
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