Halloween Fun and The Corporate Druids

VT pumpkin

I hope everyone had a fun and safe time on Halloween.  I carved this little pumpkin while watching TV on the evening of the 30th.  It was a chore – the only knife available was a floppy old fillet knife, dull from decapitating fish.

Halloween_Apollo and Aries

Aries (left) and Apollo (“Paw Paw”) on the right. They are such cool kids it makes me wish I’d raised some!

Admittedly, there was a case of the “not working doldrums” but that was relieved by a call from my friend Alothina.  She asked if I’d like to go trick-or-treating with her and the boys, my “honorary nephews”.  We had a blast.

Alothina wore a costume that covered her face, concealing the fact that she is slightly over 30!  The boys, Aries and Apollo, did very well, too, raking in big bags of sweets!

We walked for several miles along the dark, damp streets of southeast Cedar Rapids.  It was gloomy and had just rained – the slippery leaves and wet grass under our feet dampened the socks while the 38 degree weather chilled the bones.  Shouts and enthusiastic squeals of happy children broke the creepy calm of the night.  It was a classic Halloween evening.

Some very kind households offered “Dad”  (me?) a piece of candy!  One kind soul gave me a fun sized Almond Joy candy bar – something as good as gold…  We had such a good time!  Besides being around the closest thing I have to a family, it was a great opportunity to go for a long walk and get in a little workout, too!  What was the cutest costume?  I think it was the little girl dressed as the character Elmo.


Now, on a darker note…

Halloween lived up to its reputation as being as a time for heinous acts by scary people.  The latest chapter of the gas station saga fits into that category… but with a happy ending.

Dude I live in a van

That’s me dressed up as a 70s hippie.

As I had predicted for weeks, on 31 October, the corporate bosses came in and suddenly informed the remaining gas station workers that they were shutting down the store at the end of the day; there would be no more jobs.  Virtually no notice was given.

Several weeks ago a middle eastern gentleman came into the store, claiming he was the new owner.   I believed him to be honest.  From then on it it was easy to spot the warning signs of an imminent business closure:  inventory not being ordered, equipment not being fixed, etc.  Despite some of the young people wanting to believe the best, I urged them to get new jobs while they still had time.

There is a happy ending.  Everyone else was able to secure a new and better occupation in the nick of time.  One sweet girl got her new job just four hours before the sh*t hit the fan!

Sometimes we feel we are in a place for a reason.  I think this was the case and, in a small way, I helped some bright, hardworking young people who deserved much better than they were treated.  There will be other opportunities for a middle aged hermit and, if karma really exists, logically I will find one of those good jobs eventually.  In the  meantime, life will continue to be interesting – sort of a cross between “Star Trek” and the sci-fi show “Quantum Leap”…  (with some “MacGyver” van customizations thrown in)

Later in the night the plan was to sit in the van and watch horror movies.  That never materialized.  Instead, I visited and hung out with the former gas station manager and his wife at their home.  Later, I sat in the car across the street from the station, eating some Wendy’s food and watching the corporate “druids” swarming and stripping the store in the dark of the night.

Despite not camping or watching any movies, Halloween was still an adventure.

I hope everyone had a good time!

Take care, friends!


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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

5 Responses to Halloween Fun and The Corporate Druids

  1. Meg says:

    Wow, the gas station closed! And I didn’t even work there… 🙂

    What I mean by that is, I have some kind of bad luck when it comes to retail jobs; I’ve had several since I decided to supplement my self-employment income and only 1 of those stores is still open (and considering the poor management and even worse treatment of employees, it would be a surprise that they were, if they weren’t part of a huge national chain). Maybe it’s a good thing that without a car I can’t get anywhere to get another job here… the only place close enough to walk is the local WallyWorld (they might be safe, though)

    I’m glad your Halloween was fun; so was mine. After so many years of apartment living, where we just didn’t get Trick-or-Treaters, I’m now staying with my brother in the house we all grew up in, in the the ‘burbs, and the local kids are still doing what we used to do all those years ago. Last year, my 1st year here, was weird because of Sandy; the kids had to wait until Saturday (power was off most of the week) and they all showed up in the afternoon, in daylight. This year was more typical, and it was really cool. I lost count but I think we had about 50, which is pretty good, and some really cute costumes. Halloween was always my favorite holiday.

    Just one more thing – I’m glad you shared your observations about the changes at the station. In these little minimum-wage jobs it can be hard to see “the writing on the wall,” especially if you’re new in the job market. But with the current economy making it hard sometimes to get new jobs it helps to have as much advance notice as possible.

    Have a great weekend!

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Meg,

      It sounds like you had plenty of visitors. It’s fun seeing their costumes and happy faces!

      You are so right about how bady retail people are often treated. If it’s not the customers, it seems like sometimes management treats them worse. Power hungry buttholes prey upon young kids and toss em to the wolves. It was my pleasure helping motivate the others to move on… to the consternation of the corporate druids. 🙂

      Take care. Have a great autumn!

  2. Jerry says:

    Hey Brad

    I did something brand new for Halloween , I parked the truck and trailer on Santa Cruz beach along ocean view blvd, decorated the trailer with lights and other Halloween stuff and the stood on the sidewalk with a large bag & handed out candy to mostly adults & surfers who walked by. It really surprised people walking by , about 5-10% refused to take the candy, buy some even came back 2-3 times.
    Next year I might do this again, with more lights, decorations & a fog machine……. I just like to try something new, there weren’t that many people so we gave 2-3 candies and spent maye less then $30 bucks.

    I will post some pictures in a few days when I get a chance to post on my blog


    • VanTrekker says:

      Sounds like fun! I didn’t want to give candy out of the white van for obvious reasons. 🙂 I like the idea of hanging at the beach and handing out goodies. 2 or 3 visits… sounds good to me. What were you giving out?

  3. Jerry says:

    Hey Brad

    Just regular halloween candy, but mostly only to adults and there are no houses close by anyway. Plus I was with the wife and daughter, but i get really your point and thought about that too, we would both look like dirty old men handing out candy & wanting to snatch kids into the van. On the Beach however with adults it was cool – 90% were happy campers when they got the unexpected treats, besides I “did NOT” invite them inside for a look.

    I have now posted the pictures if you wanna see OverTheTop in Stealth & Halloween beach mode.