Toronto Mike

Fear the Ardo

Tales From The Ex

Are you going to the Canadian National Exhibition today?  I'm not, but I do have a CNE story to share.

We called him Ardo and we feared him.  Ardo was my boss when I worked a game booth at the Ex from '89-'91 and his persona was thug-like, a tough dude you didn't want to mess with.  He did his best never to let you catch him smiling.  With every snarl and command his legend grew.

The typical game booth attendant working one of his several games was either a teenager or in his or her very early 20s.  To keep us working hard and in line, Ardo decided very early on that presenting himself in such an intimidating fashion was his best bet.  He was right.  Your biggest fear was getting an earful from Ardo or having someone escalate an issue or incident to him.  People told tales of what Ardo once did to this guy or that guy.  Fear was his motivational tool of choice.

This worked the first year I worked for Ardo, but at some point during my second year Ardo let his guard down.  I was permitted to see him in a more relaxed state and he even began laughing in my presence.  For Ardo, it was all about trust.  Until he trusted you, he played the tough guy as well as any cast member on The Sopranos.  Once you earned his trust, you could clearly see he was indeed a softy underneath it all.  Ardo's bark, in all it's tenacity, was far worse than his bite.  I'm pretty darn certain he's there right now glaring at his new game booth attendants while his legend permeates the midway.

In a previous CNE story, a girl who worked for me at Pop-a-Ball chimed in with a comment.  Betty wrote the following:

I love reading your CNE stories every year. I worked with you at Pop-A-Ball and went to highschool with Ms. BlondAmbition (she got me the job). I also worked at the gambling booth right next door. HATED working the microphone!! I used to see Ardo for many years after that setting up every year. I remember him always threatening us about handling his cash, but his nephews (or maybe they were cousins) would steal from him right under his nose at the gambling booths.

The legend of Ardo grows...

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