I have just finished setting up for an annual outdoor concert I have now done for the 9th year in a row. I somehow got asked to set the chairs up for this event 9 years ago and it has become my job to do it each year since then.
It is not a terribly important job from an event perspective and it is one of those jobs that I swear I will not do again the following year, yet each year I feel obliged to do it out of loyalty to my client. I am very fond of this client so I have a soft spot for her. I also usually cut my fees when I work for this client but this year I charged my normal rate. The client had a little bitch about it but then gladly agreed to it.
For 9 years we have been lucky with the weather and we have not had any rain so it is usually 2 days in the sun having fun with my crew. I always refer to it as the start of my summer tan.
This year was different though – rain was predicted. So I have been watching the weather closely for the last 2 weeks and virtually hourly since Wednesday. On Wednesday I sent out an email to my client requesting additional crew and for 2000 Black Bags.
What are the 2000 black bags for? Well I thought putting a black bag over each chair may stop them from getting wet. The chairs are like miniature camping chairs made out of canvas.
I was checking the weather hourly on Thursday – loads of rain expected on Friday – 97% chance of rain.
So yesterday we arrive on site fully prepared for the rain – we have the black bags, I am dressed suitably warm, I have “condoms” (plastic consumable / throw-away raincoats) for my crew and 3 extra crew members. The only thing missing is the clouds and the rain!
We start setting up and it just gets hotter and hotter. I am sweating my ass off. My hair is a mess, I am covered in sun tan lotion (I got really burnt last year so I was extra careful this time). Crew are being extra competent for a change. I keep looking at the sky and of course it is the most beautiful blue sky you could possibly imagine.
I then make the decision mid-afternoon to put the black bags over each chair anyway – just in case it rains overnight. We have never done this before and it is a real pain the the ass. You have to tear each bag off the roll, find the right side to open the bag – spend 5 minutes trying to open it, and then slipping it over the chair. We finished in record time and we called it a day – everything else will be done this morning.
So I get home last night – and the clouds come over and before I know it, it is hailing and the wind is howling. All I can think of is that these chairs are probably blowing away, especially with the bags capturing some of the wind as well.
I resign myself to the fact that there will be a lot of work today and there is nothing I can do about it until this morning.
I get up this morning and the weather is dreadful. It is damp and cloudy. I get to site and it is raining. We put our “condoms” on and these are just annoying. They are blowing around and it is very difficult to work in them. Lucky the stage crew were not in yet as we took refuge just in front of the stage under the overhang of the roof trusses. Here I was able to unpack my boxes with the row and seat labels.
I instruct my crew about what needs to be done – they have to make up teams of 5 people as follows:
1 person to lift the back of the chair up and take the black bag off the chair,
1 person to hold the chair number on the back of the chair,
1 person to clip the number on (we have funny little clipping mechanisms that attach the number to the chair),
1 person to put the black bag back over the chair and then put the back of the chair down.
1 person running backwards and forwards getting more numbers and little clip things from myself
Usually I need 2 people in a team:
1 person fills the clip mechanism while the other one lifts all the backs of the chairs up in a row
Then one holds the label while the other clips
I usually go along and put the label on each chair seat so they just need to pick it up and clip it on. I can’t do this today as the bags are wet and the labels would get wet.
The crew started off really slowly and it took us almost 90 minutes to do the first block. But they soon enough found their rhythm and we managed to get it all done by noon.
My client is in a flat panic as the event is looking rained out. The ground is muddy, the hospitality area is looking drab under the gray skies and people keep phoning her and asking if they can get a refund for their tickets.
I was quite happy to say good-bye at that point – my hands and feet felt like ice and I must have looked like a drowned rat. A huge part of me felt very guilty for not staying on but I’m not sure I would have been any help. Short of staying on for moral support, I probably would have been in the way.
I got home and had a nice hot bath and am now sitting comfortably in a warm lounge blogging – and feeling very guilty for not being there offering my help and support.