Trial by fire

It’s quiet now. Roommate’s tapping the guitar, and there’s a Canadian humming through my speakers. Around this time yesterday, Dutch folks were screaming in my face, pop music was blazing at a max of 120dB and my hand was bleeding while I had 7 people under me that had to switch the backline of 2 bands on a stage in under 2 minutes on live national television. Try saying that in one breath without stuttering.

If you just did, you’re an idiot.
Anyway. I’m nearing 4 years on the job now and although I’ve been appointed crew chief on several occasions, my employer has his own people that are getting paid to take on the big productions. I am used to asking what needs to be done, and doing it myself. What’s more, I’ve gotten quite good at it, too.

Yesterday, they seemed to have run out of those poor bastards. Or they simply wore them out as they tend to, I’m not sure. What I do know is that the day before my boss asked in passing, "Crew chief saturday" and I went "Sure." I could have figured out they happened to be dumping the most stressful job possible right on my shoulders right there and then, but nooo. "Sure," he said, and didn’t start regretting it until 30 minutes later.

Stress! I had forgotten the definition of the word. That goddamn nagging feeling, the failed attempts to explain to your colleagues how you want things to go right, the pacing,… There were so many things that could go wrong, and millions at stake. Not that I give a damn about the pocket money of a multi-national, but I I do kind of worry about my job and that of others. Not to mention the fact that I want shit to go right when told to make it happen.

First of all, let me explain what kind of people we are. We don’t have a decent job, we push cases for a minimum wage 4 days a week and we’re broke the 7th of every month. Personally I do this out of love for music and the bit of rock ‘n roll left in the business, but I am the minority here. I don’t want to point any fingers but all in all, in short, we are marginal. At best. We don’t give a shit. We don’t show up on the job, we tell the stage manager to bugger off, we work drunk, stoned, high, hardly awake and bleeding like a stuck pig. Any combination is possible, and preferred. Having a group like us under you to organize a show with 18 different bands on 2 stages, is a good way to go batshit.

SO when one of us pricks happens to stick around for long enough to get temporarily promoted, he’s proper fucked over a barrel. Enter Maarten, a 23 year old shit trying to get a crew chief contract. Why not test him a little?

Let me tell you, we fucking rocked. All 8 of us, each individual. I swear to Maynard I got a little emotional seeing the guys get that shit on stage and off again. No risers fell off, no managers went mad, or any of that. Smoothly, on and off. 2 minutes? We did that load-in in 20 seconds, flat.

We made that show. All 8 of us and our stage manager, we were the cornerstones of the whole operation. Yes I am being overdramatic, but you should have seen us. My guys were there when I needed them, nice and sober. Through the noise and ear plugs they needed nothing more than a gesture to understand what was going on, what was expected, and where. They performed well over our usual level, and were worth triple their wage if you ask me. 15 hours, we did that day, with work gradually getting harder every hour to the very end of the show and the backline load-out. They rocked, and allowed me to do the same.

I’m going to remember this job for a long time, with mixed emotions. I gave my crew shirt away, didn’t even need to be asked. I am so glad that shit is behind me now and it all went well. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t genuinely having a ball, from the very second we got busy.
To my colleagues: Thank you very much.
To my employer: You’re welcome.

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