Bumbershoot Balloon Man

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Generally my daughter and I have a pretty good time at Bumbershoot. Last year my daughter inhaled some bubbles from the Volcano, but no serious emotional or medical problems resulted from this action.

But on Monday, an odd thing happened at Bumbershoot. We visited a balloon man who had his cart near the men’s restroom down from the literary area and across from the International Foundation.


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He made a balloon for my daughter and while he made the balloon he was having a conversation with his wife on his cell phone. I didn’t mind his talking on his cell phone and making a balloon. He apologized and I made some half-hearted quip about multitasking. The balloon construction took about thirty seconds. I thanked him and tipped him a dollar. I’m not sure if this was a low amount of a high amount or what — it was a handy bill and I put it in his basket. There weren’t any guidelines posted. I’m not familiar with the etiquette of balloon man tipping.

In any case my daughter seemed happy with her balloon and then after seeing some music, after playing in the International Foundation, her balloon popped. So we visited the balloon man again to ask for a replacement. My daughter saw an elaborate balloon construction that looked like tweetiebird or as much as twisted, inflated plastic could like tweetiebird and she asked for this one.

This one took a bit longer than thirty seconds to construct. I looked in my wallet and now I only had two tens, a twenty, and a dollar. So I put the dollar in the jar. He stopped his construction even though he was just about done. He reached into the tip jar and returned the dollar to me. He said, “If this is all you can afford to tip you need the dollar more than I do.”

I said, “Oh, it’s an evil balloon man.” I was puzzled and trying to make light of the sensation even thought I was now mad at the balloon man.

The balloon man then finished his balloon tweetiebird and said, “I was going to give it you even though you only gave me a dollar, but then you went and made that comment. Explain that to your little girl.” And he secured the balloon to his cart.

Puzzled my daughter and I walked away. “Where is my balloon?” my daughter asked.

“He won’t give it to us.”

“He won’t give it us?”

“He won’t give it us.”

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