Hello again; With any big venture, its never how you start but how you finish. You have to continue to show up and give your best effort. So, I hope this second post will live up to all the confidence showed in me by the people who left comments on the first one.
First, just in case you can’t guess, this is a picture taken of me several years ago before all the changes started. I know the image is small, but sadly its the only one I have left. There may b a larger version of it somewhere on the midway’s blog, but I’m not sure how to go about finding it. And my brother Patrick has one that he keeps promising to send me where I was even bigger. We figure that before I started working on getting healthier I weighed approximately 600 pounds. When I finally agreed to look into having gastric surgery I was weighed in at 512. I mention all of this because it was only as I started to address my physical health that I was able to look at the rest of my life.
I grew up in a family of carnival owners. I literally have the business on both sides of my family. My dad and three of my uncles on my mom’s side all had carnivals of varying sizes at one time or another. My grandfather on my dad’s side of the family worked games on the east coast. My dad broke into the business working the lucky strike pitch, rat wheel, and later the six cat. That game is no longer around due to it having had a very poor reputation.
My dad started his own business in the late 70’s with three rides he bought with help from my grandmother mary nanny wagner. we had a Eyerly ground mount lady bugs, a trailer mounted san antonio roller works pony carts, and one of the old clown head moonwalks. we worked church events and small festivals. I was my daddy’s son. i wanted to be with him and help with the rides. everyone including my dad could see my vision was only going to get worse and fast so there was always the concern about having me help but not getting me hurt doing it. I was encouraged to work games and help with bookings. I was also pushed towards getting an education and helping the family that way.
I went to college finally graduating from texas a & m corpus christi with a degree in political science and hopes of going to law school. well with four families in the carnival business you can always use a good lawyer. I couldn’t successfully navigate the lsat, Law School Admissions Test. The closest I came to being admitted was at Texas Tech University where at least the rejection letter came with a hand written note from the Dean of Admissions. His comment was I don’t know why you want to study law, all you will ever do is wills and estates. I didn’t take it personally. I haven’t spent much time thinking about it until preparing to write my story. If I had really wanted to be a lawyer, I think I would have made a stink out of those comments.
Since I had graduated, I was no longer eligible for assistance from the Texas Commission for the Blind. This would have meant no money for readers and having to borrow to cover all of my expenses. So, not wanting to rack up thousands in debt to student loans, I went to lyons world services for the blind in little rock arkansas where i trained to work in automated collection center for the internal revenue service. I finished there and went to work in oklahoma city for about two years. I spent a lot of time as primary on taking incoming calls. The customers, as we were told to call them then, would get this certified letter telling them all the things the IRS could do to them for failure to file their returns or pay their outstanding balance. People would get this letter, and they would freak. I can’t tell you how many times someone told me we were putting them out on the streets. I had three suicide threats during my time there. When it got to the point that I had to think about whether or not I would go into work each day, I quit and went home to the family.
I helped with the bookings again and bought a small game trailer. I helped whenever we needed to buy or sell rides. when you are a small family owned show the only real way to buy newer or different equipment is to sell or trade something you already have. we struggled. we never had more than seven or eight rides but we managed to get several impressive bookings due to our reputation of honesty and well a lot of the committees just liked us.
After my father’s death
this went along okay until my dad died from lung cancer. that was ten years ago. Me and him had spent thousands of hours and driven maybe a million miles together getting the show from one town to the next. I would massage his neck, shoulders, and hands. we sang a long to a lot of country music probably why i love it so much and why the songs I have sung on my podcasts are all country. I miss him just about every day. He talked with me instead of to me and shared the important lessons about how to be a man that so few parents are teaching any more. Me and my brother patrick managed to keep the show going for another three years but eventually we had to join up with my uncle albert’s carnival and work with his family.
that started out okay. i had one game left at that point a kiddie high striker where the kids won a inflatable toy every time. it got harder because my cousin jason also had an inflate game or joint as we call them. Later on he would put up a second inflate joint. At that point my game would no longer show a profit. this was also when my health started to decline.
Endings and beginnings
I had always been over weight but still in general good health. But finally my mom noticed how bad I had gotten. the skin on my legs was tight and I had almost been kicked out of a motel for peeing the bed. She insisted I see a doctor. the first one wasn’t very helpful. they put me on medicine for high blood pressure and told me to get a regular doctor when i got home. that winter we saw one but he didn’t impress us, so we tried another doctor. that was when I found doctor sandaraj at the sunshine family clinic. she encouraged diet and exercise and got me to have a sleep study. this determined that i had severe sleep apnea and was put on a CPAP machine. She is also the one who would later push me towards seeing Dr. Scarborough and at least listening to what he had to say about having gastric surgery. I don’t think its too much of an exaggeration to say that her and my mom literally saved my life.
As i started getting more rest i started thinking more clearly. I realized that my kiddie striker was losing money. My mom would often have to take money out of her food trailer’s grosses to pay for my stock. it took me a long time to convince them that there was no good to come from putting up a game just to have me out on the midway and that there weren’t any other games that i could work myself that we could change to. so i spent all my time working on the website.
I should mention that I used to blame my cousin jason for running me out of the business. as long as there were only two inflate games I could make a living. but once there was a third i just couldn’t make it any more. but I’v since realized that he did me a huge favor. I wasn’t happy working a game on another man’s midway. I’m too much my dad’s son. even if i had been rolling in money i would have been trying to think of a way to be on my own. and no longer worrying about the game left me free to invest all my time energy and passion into building something of my own.
At the time of this post the business is not as financially successful as I would like it to b. I would prefer more sales, and I really thought that by now I would have some companies advertising on the site. But I am personally satisfied with what I have done so far. I think far too many people are judging success by the bottom line. I get it, you quit your job or work your but off during your off hours hoping the website, blog, podcast, etc will pay the bills. I do too, but I try to remind myself there are lots of different measures for success. I believe that I am respected in my field, and I think many of the people who read my newsletter or social media posts are rooting for me to succeed. I maintain the website and now two blogs with a minimal level of assistance from friends and family. I get up every day with a attitude of hope. I actually believe that when I am through wading through all the junk mail in my inbox that there will be at least one in there about buying or selling something. And now I have this new venture. Will people want to hire me as a coach or mentor? Will groups or companies want me to share my story hoping to motivate or inspire them. I don’t know. But its going to be exciting finding out. I encourage you to stay positive, celebrate the little successes, and always be looking for the good in your life.
Sharing is caring
Before I make the usual request for you to comment on or share this post I want to thank everyone who commented on the first post. I am still nervous about this whole sharing my story thing, but all of you made me feel more comfortable with all of your warm heart felt positive and encouraging comments. I love hearing from my readers, and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this one.
I also added a contact form just in case any of you want to send me an mail in addition to the comment or instead of one. You can also use it to ask about the free coaching opportunity. Let me know if I can ever do anything to help. So many people have helped m along the way that I am always looking for ways to pay them back. thanks again and take care out there, Max