I love my job. Even though I say it all the time, I don’t say it nearly enough. Lately, with doing some work "under the table" for someone at the office and our trip to England, I’ve been getting closer with the people at work, which feels great. When we’re yakking and relaxing after a job, I could just stay there forever. Not just because of the atmosphere and great times, but just because I feel normal then. I can just be one of the guys, with my own character, and still be… one of the guys. Maybe I’ll divert on that later. Maybe not.
Naturally, there’s numerous down sides to the job, quite a few of which I’ve already ranted about. But one of them only recently has started to bother me: Every 3 working days or so, you can expect to get hurt. Usually no big deal, but after a while you can almost map what you’ve been at by the scars on your body. From the top of my head, here’s mine:
I don’t have a scar to prove it, but my first injury was during Disney on Ice, 2005. I was standing inside the trailer, which was rigged with a crane-like device that was used to lift the cooling plates out on which the ice was installed. The crane itself weighs quite a bit, and I can know. Hardly having slept at all, I was just too stoned to react when the metal structure swung my way. I took the clamp thing in the knee, did half a spin forward and landed on my back. It wasn’t that terribly painful but I felt it for quite a while after.
At break-down of Pukkelpop 2006, there were metal T-bars rigged from one truss in the roof to the other, I’m not sure what for. Now, these are made of metal and to be comfortable, you need 4 guys to lift one of these. Even when the roof is brought down they still hang just slighty higher than I am. So, 4 of us grab it to bring it down; except the other guy on my end either didn’t have breakfast, or was jsut fucking pretending to be holding it.
As it slid the other way and off the truss, it landed on my shoulder. I didn’t want to let it drop for the sake of the guys holding the other end, so I took the full force and basically just squealed like a pig. The dumb shit was just staring at me right until the moment I barked at him, "Lift, God Damnit!" The line where the edge of the beam landed is still visible.
The Shakira production, somewhere around newyear 2007. We get started and the first trailer swings its doors open. Inside it is fully stacked with flight cases and 3 ramps on top. They are used as a slope to ride cases on and off the trailer. The edges are turned upright a bit so cases don’t drop off, and one end is bent so it is flush with the trailer floor. So when you stack them, what you get is a slight open space between them as they rest on the edges of the one underneath. Except, the middle one was turned upside down and slightly towards the back of the trailer, so what I got when I grabbed the curved end of the top one and shoved it back with considerable force, was a miniature guillotine.
Again, these things need to be lifted with 4 of us. When my fingers got stuck between there was fuck-if-I-know how many kilo’s on them. I didn’t dare look at my fingers, but as I glanced at the ramp underneath I could see my skin hanging from it. I had forgotten to put on my gloves first. My index finger, middle finger ang ringfinger got their skin and a good bit of flesh torn from them, resulting in 3 marks running along them today.
During preperation for the Genesis stage at StageCo Belgium, we were asked to stack "standards", 2 meter long steel pipes with 4 rings for attaching things to at regular intervals along the length, in a case. They were held together with 2 metal bands, and since we were too lazy to pick them off the floor each time, we held them up using a forklift as we stacked them.
Funny enough, the day before I had been discussing about the use of security boots. I don’t wear them, because within a week my feet are just gone, shaven away by lousy craftsmanship of supposedly qualitatively superior shoes. When I cut the second band, one standard fell off and landed with its ring and full weight, smack on my left big toe. It’s been a month now and the swelling is almost gone. Black, blue, purple, I saw them all fade in and out of my poor little toe.
When skins are used in a stage, they are slid with the edges in aluminium beams that are bent in the corners in such a way that the tickened ends of the skins can slide right in. The stage for the Rolling Stones is about 23 meters high, so I estimate the beams we were handling were about 500/600 kilo’s each. We lift them in sections, using eye bolts that we attach and then slide a metal pipe through. We shove them together, and then put wheels underneath so they don’t drag as one end is lifted with the crane.
To put those wheels under, one end needs to be lifted. We were having problems with that though, as they were positioned too much together. We managed to pull one end to the side a bit, but that caused it to bend. In itself no big deal, if it weren’t for the fact that the base is shaped like a pretty narrow rectangle, and the thing was lying on its side. Because it was bent, and we lifted one side, it fell over on its side. Mind you, this thing weighs about 700 kilo’s, you don’t just stop that from falling over.
I was squatting over the bar, since we didn’t have to lift that high anyway. It’s the best way to lift the weight on your legs instead of your spine. I don’t even recall it being jerked from my hands as the beam fell over towards me. My side of the pipe we were holding, touched the ground and was shoved through the ring, while the other side, now being the length of the entire pipe, smashed into me and flung me over two beams behind me like a rag doll. I was hit over my chest and collarbone (Which I do remember quite lively), and miraculously all it left was a shave wound and a bruise on my shoulder. I don’t even Want to imagine where I would be now if it hit me in the head or collarbone full on. I know where I was then, though: groaning and squirming, trying to figure out what the shit just happened.
Aside from that, I have marks under 2 of my nails that I got by crushing them, and several other minor cuts and shaves that I don’t even know how I got. So far I could just pull myself together and continue working, so I’m hoping my angel isn’t growing tired of saving my sorry ass time and time again. Even the most careful people get their share once in a while.