Hmmm… Ok, so what day is this?… Feb 5th. Friday… Fourth event day of the week (of six)… Next week we have [counting on fingers] eight. Plus Valentines Day dinner overflow from our restaurant… The following week there are another eight. And we’re losing six staff that week too.
When I arrived at work this morning, I shut the door to my office for five minutes and had a cry.
It’s nothing unusual. The 12+hour days are wearing me thin like an old t-shirt. I’ve been doing events long enough that I know not to overreact to people under stress, even when that person is myself. Sometimes you just need to cry. It’s fatigue – nothing more serious or permanent than that. I haven’t had a work week under 60 hours for this whole year so far, and that comes with no meal or coffee breaks. But plenty of other people in the world have it much worse, and at the end of the day I still like my job. And I’m good at it.
Plus I’m not commuting 90 mins each way like I was this time last year. That’s a definite win.
It makes it hard to write about anything else though: when work takes over your life. Nobody wants to hear me complain, and I don’t want to complain either. Right now we just have to hold on and ride this tidal wave until… well… probably sometime in June. Assuming we don’t pick up lots of conference bookings, like we did last year. Conferences fucking love winter. It means that they don’t feel so bad about locking everyone inside and pouring coffee down their throats all day. That’s pretty much all conferences in a nutshell.
It does amuse me that the people who organise conferences usually seem to forget that when they have an AV show, or even just a table of danishes in the back, that means there’s a venue staff member sitting in on their event and listening to what they say. If most conferences weren’t so mind-bendingly boring (enough to make anyone tune out) you can pick up a lot of trade secrets while you’re clearing up the coffee cups. I did once work a conference where the facilitators were talking about shooting people, and I figured they were just some kind of photographic company and they were describing the best techniques for portraiture (that’s how full of rainbows and fluff my brain actually is)… only then I realised they were working with a bunch of Army guys and demonstrating the best way to compensate for wind sheer when you are actually shooting people.
Nice guys though. No vegans in the group.
After years and years of running people’s events, I’ve come to the conclusion that the rudest, most demanding, most treat-you-like-they-own-you clients are churches and weddings. Music and professional theater groups are usually polite, sexually generous, and often surprisingly humble with the crew… because they understand that we can ruin them with one little twiddle of a dial. Sporting events (especially the event liaison people) are high-strung, unfathomable, and very picky. The fucking grass has to be just right. Conferences can be a mixed bag, but most of the people who organise or run conferences are fairly flexible and pragmatic, which makes them easy clients even if their superiors are not. Weddings are also pretty mixed – but running a wedding is much like running dinner theater: the show is predictable and amateurish, the actors don’t know their marks, everyone gets drunk, and on top of that you need to be a restaurant. But like most amateur theater, the actors can be lovely and bring baking for everyone, or they can also have huge egos and talk to you like you’re a dog. Weddings and church groups share one common factor: they tend to think that every cent they’re paying is too much (because you do your work for free, don’t you?), and that means that you are both their slave and not to be trusted. It would be more depressing if I liked them.
However. I survived event day four of… however many. February. And I was going to go to bed an hour ago, because day five is tomorrow, and then day six, and then I might get a single day off if nobody calls me and asks me a million stupid questions.
We shall see.