Sunday, October 26, 2008

Broke, Broken, &
Out of Business

I'm physically ill looking at these photos from early yesterday morning. It would be easier for me to stomach had this been my own fault or "an act of God" which an assistant to the culprit mumbled to one of my friends today. But the truth is that my show year abruptly ended in the wee morning hours of Saturday because of the negligence and stupidity of another vendor.

Just before leaving the camper yesterday I noted a missed call in the middle of the night. I had left my card with the security officer, an off-duty police officer of Holden Beach, North Carolina. This has become a habit the past two years when rough weather is expected at a show. Generally speaking those guys and gals don't mind warning a vendor in the middle of the night of a potential problem. In my case there wasn't ever a chance for a warning.

Detective Hewitt had left me a message: "Mr. Waddell...another vendors tent has blown into yours and knocked it over." That is the quote verbatim saved to my cell phone. and I knew whose it was.

Ironically the last time I went back to check on my booth before turning in I struck up a conversation with the neighbor of the food vendor whose canopy crushed mine. Both of us were concerned that the food vendor made only a half-assed attempt at anchoring his canopy. We speculated that the winds would send it up and over his trailer and into the intercoastal waterway about 50 yards behind us. Unfortunately for me the wind direction changed during the next few hours.

There is more to this story that I'm just not ready to blog about. I've been told that the guy responsible does have liability insurance and they will soon be contacting me. In the midst of the ordeal I was threatened physical harm by one of the festival staff and my plight was belittled by the police officer who wrote up the report. I feel I have been violated to the core of my being. The situation could've and should've been handled much differently - with class and dignity.

We as a family are just devastated. The income from the upcoming shows was greatly needed but even if I could piece together some sort of display, I lost all of my prints and smaller originals. Even if I had the savings to purchase the materials I wouldn't have the time physically to complete the artwork. We're talking months of my work literally crushed and washed away because of a careless mistake by another.

I don't know what we are going to do. The anticipation of the probable fight with an insurance company is already making me so anxious that I can't sleep. Talk about someone needing a bailout - why does this shit keep happening to us? Seriously.

The food vendor's canopy is the blue & white one. They just slid the legs back on it and used it yesterday. Mine? A twisted mess. Notice there are no tie lines, tie-downs, or harnesses hanging from the food vendor's framework. That's because there were none.

This was my first view of my booth. The two upset down plastic containers in the lower left corner held (hold) my prints. You can see one of their tops under the other vendor's canopy. Notice the cinder block in the middle of my gear? That was one of three others I had added to my normal weight system. You can also see where I had tied the rear of my booth to the fence behind me. Of all the tents that were anchored to the fence mine was the only one destroyed much less actually damaged. It was also one of the most expensive which included a lower "Sta-Bar System" that virtually eliminates the threat of wind damage.

Holes riddle my side-walls. Many of the joints that hold the structural support system are broken. Note the one bent pole at the top right. After inspecting all of the framework this afternoon more than half the poles are bent.

The pole laying in front of my booth belongs to the other canopy. Note its thickness - about twice as much as mine. The whole framework is steel whereas mine is heavy duty aluminum. The destruction of my canopy was clearly not an "act of God. It was an act of stupidity and neglect by another vendor.


kimmyk said...

wow i'm really sorry to hear about all this. maybe the vendor will do the right thing and compensate your loss of materials and possible income from the show. if he doesn't do the right thing, then i would suggest you telling his insurance company they need to step up...

i really hope so.

i am really sorry this happened to you and even more so that it happened during a time when finances are so tight.

Vodka Mom said...

I am SO So sorry. When it rains, it really does poor. I wish there was something I could say or do. Well- am sending good thoughts, for whatever it is worth.

Kyla said...

That's terrible!! I'm so so sorry, Bennie!

Brian said...

Damn. Damn damn damn. Sorry this has happened and wish anything could be done to reverse the damage.

Anonymous said...

Bennie I'm so sorry this happened! I understand your frustration of bad things happening over and over again. You have such a strong family, hold onto that during the tough and frustrating times. I hope you are cmpensated for your losses. I'll be holding your family close in my heart and prayers as always.

Tammy Timmons on FB

carmilevy said...

I believe in karma, and I believe in the food vendor's heart of hearts, he knows full well that his ignorance and lack of caring has cost you dearly.

I also believe that goodness comes to good folks - even when things seem their darkest. I unfortunately relate all too well to what you're going through, as I've been wrestling with the uncaring actions of a former colleague for some months now. Some nights, I stare at the ceiling and wonder how we're going to make it fly.

You are in my thoughts and prayers. If I can brainstorm anything in the meantime, please don't hesitate to lean on me.

we_be_toys said...

Oh my god, Bennie! I can't believe how much damage was caused by one person not being responsible. And what was up with the police that they were so casual about your material loss? I'm hoping that at the very least you'll be compensated for your damages - any chance the value of your work that was destroyed can be counted in that as well?
I hated missing this show; I got stuck in Raleigh, but I wanted to try and go to your next one. Are they all going to be cancelled because of this?
Dammit - this is so unfair.
Thinking of you honey...

Ben and Bennie said...

Yeah. I had to cancel the next two which were in the Savannah area. I cannot say enough good things about the Savannah Waterfront Association and the Tybee Island Arts Guild. Quality organizations who know how to handle unfortunate situations.

I'm hoping that the right things happen and I can be in Savannah the first weekend of December but I'm not feeling good about the current situation. I've heard nothing from the Holden Beach Merchants Association (festival sponsor) nor the food vendor's insurance company.

If this turns into a lawsuit then I'll be done and out for a long, long time. To replace the booth is in the neighborhood of $1,000. I'm waiting for the prints to completely dry out but there's probably another thousand. We just can't afford that. It looks like I'll be job hunting this week.

Jason Roth said...

I'm sorry to hear of your misfortune.

Maggie, Dammit said...


Oh, I am so so SO sorry this happened to you. Ohhhhhhh.... crap. :(

TWD said...

Totally blows, dude. No pun intended. Knowing you as I do, I think you'll land on your feet; shaky maybe (but that's a beer thing), ruddy-faced, pissed-off and friendly as always. Perhaps you could make paintings of the photos posted here and sell them - with (unauthorized) discount tickets to the food guy's tent...

Gretchen said...

Shit, shit and double shit. This is awful.

moosh in indy. said...

Suck dude.
I'm sending him all sorts of bad jujus and you all sorts of wonderful ones.
I'm so sorry.

susan sorrell said...

Damn Bennie! I didn't know this had happened! If you need to borrow a tent, Anne and I have an extra one. Keep your chin up. Sending good Karma your way. ;)
big hugs,