Pickle relishes his sweet gig

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Erik Cruise, 17, plays air guitar in front of the Mr. Pickle's Sandwich Shop in Carson City on Friday afternoon.

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Erik Cruise, 17, plays air guitar in front of the Mr. Pickle's Sandwich Shop in Carson City on Friday afternoon.

Sometimes if you find yourself in a jam, you might see a guy in a pickle. Well, that's if your jam is a traffic bottleneck at College Parkway and Retail Road, and his pickle is - a pickle.

Most everyday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., 17-year-old Erik Cruise dons the gleeful gherkin costume and waves at passing motorists to promote Mr. Pickle's Sandwich Shop in the North Carson Crossing Shopping Center.

In heat that threatened to turn him into a steamed vegetable Friday, Cruise was busting out the moves to the Dave Matthews Band playing on his iPod. The 6-foot-tall pickle in a chef's hat did the knee bounce, the head bop, the foot shuffle, and the ever-popular air guitar.

Cruise said he's been doing this for about two weeks and he likes his job.

"I saw it in the newspaper and I was like, 'Sweet!' You get paid and they feed you too."

The fringe benefits are even greater.

People holler "pickle" at him and he's not offended. Others honk their horn and wave. Once, a passing motorist intentionally set off their car alarm in Mr. Pickle's honor.

"I didn't even know you could do that," Cruise admitted.

And whenever kids come around, "some will come up and hug me," he said.

Cruise knows he's scored a sweet gig, and it's even made him wonder about taking his act to the big time.

"I actually thought about working at Disneyland and I think it would be pretty cool."

Cruise said he's from "everywhere." His tenure as Carson City's most active cuke is almost over. In about a month, he said, he's moving to Washington.

But until then, for seven bucks an hour, Cruise is content as a sometimes sweet, sometimes sour, always grooving mascot.

"It's cool. I get to dance around all day."

Contact reporter F.T. Norton at ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1213.

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