Senior A.J. Moore finds unique job at Houston rodeo

Lilah Gaber, Staff Writer

For most people, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo evokes images of calf-roping, carnival rides, bull-riding and lots of deep-fried foods, but for senior A.J. Moore, the rodeo means monotony, sore feet, deserted shifts and unexpected friendships.

On weekdays during the Rodeo, Moore began work at 6:00 p.m. He worked at game booths, including a kid’s basketball game and a beer pong booth. Although his shift ended at midnight, Moore managed to avoid losing too much sleep by finishing most of his schoolwork during his free periods. On the weekends, Moore worked an additional two hours.

As an employee, Moore did not receive special access to any of the stadium events, but did get free admission to the carnival.

Moore’s shifts were not all fun and games. He had difficulty getting through the six-to-eight hours of work each day. His shifts were lonely and standing for hours made his feet hurt.

“I did a lot of standing and trying to convince people to play games when they obviously did not want to,” Moore said.

Moore managed to find ways odd ways to make his job more interesting.

According to Moore, once he was pushing a cart of prizes back from the supply room when a worker who was taking out the trash challenged him to a race. The course started at one ferris wheel and went around the entire park.

“He was pushing a garbage can that was empty, and I had furry prizes on my cart,” Moore said. “I tried to cheat. I still lost.”

Amy Liu
Moore stands on the Quad during last day of classes for seniors.

Despite initially having little in common with many of his co-workers, Moore bonded with them over the shared monotony. He also brightened up his shifts by bargaining over the games with patrons. Moore offered free games or free prizes to up the stakes of the games, giving them more of an edge.

“I bent the rules a little bit to make it more fun,” he said.

Moore experienced another strange disruption on March 15 when Rodeo attendees began panicking after hearing what they thought was gunfire. Moore was not worried.

“I was at the end of my shift, so my mind was focused on getting out,” he said. “It didn’t sound like gunshots to me.”

Moore saw the frantic and dramatic reactions of the crowd from his post.

“No one really knew what was going on, but there was just a stampede of people trying to get out of the park,” Moore said.

Police later stated that there was no evidence of gunfire.

Moore rated his experience working at the Rodeo only slightly above average. For him, it was important to get a good booth in a highly populated area. One slow day Moore was working in “kiddie land” in a deserted corner of the park where he had little interaction during his eight-hour shift.

According to Moore, the work became more enjoyable over spring break and weekends when he would see people he knew.

Moore’s time at the Rodeo ended on March 19. Though much of his time was spent looking forward to his breaks, Moore found the company of others was the best way to pass the time.

“It was interesting how everyone found a way to put some joy into their job.”