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Six Things I Won’t Take for Granted Again

Chris Lose • August 2021LD at Large • August 4, 2021

Illustration by John Sauer – johnsauer.com

After over a year of sitting at home, filing for support, looking under every rock, and biding our time, the doors are finally starting to crack back open. Our industry is awakening from an extraordinary slumber. We have been prevented from spreading joy in order to prevent the spread of virus. We did what was needed to save lives and we must believe that our efforts were worth it. As we return to the profession that we love so dearly, we are reminded of the things that we love to grumble about. I never thought I would miss the squelch of a radio. I want to take a few thousand words to remind ourselves of the daily grinds that we must never take for granted again. This is a short list of the things that we love to complain about that make being a roadie uniquely suited to us vagabonds.

Going to Bed when the Sun Comes Up

I can feel my vampire-like canines grow longer and sharper when I entomb myself in the blackout drape that covers my hotel room window. We are creatures of the dark, lurkers of the unlit. Indoor shows allow us to block out the sun to generate our own light sources. Outdoor shows do not afford us such luxuries. We work until the sun drowns out our beams and glares up our monitor screens to get those last few magic moments into the console. This throws off our Circadian rhythms and we love to complain about it. I have drawn the lucky straw and taken the night shift. I work from four in the afternoon to five in the morning. My drive back to the hotel is facing the sunrise. All the other traffic is going to work while I am leaving work. My skin is burning as I skulk from the sun…and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Working on Holidays

During the isolation period, I was able to be home with my family for the holidays. We celebrated birthdays, Christmas and New Years at home together. I try to keep Thanksgiving and/or Christmas as a sacred day to spend with loved ones. The rest of the holidays have never meant much to me. I can’t get too worked up about holidays because there is no guarantee that I will have them off. People like to party on holidays, and it is our job to provide them with that experience. As service professionals, we are the ones asked to apologize to our families for our absence at the most social gatherings. Over the last year, I have all but forgotten how it feels to disregard holidays as just another day. Even in Dubai, where holidays are sacred, we can put on our work clothes and get a lot of work done when no one else is around.

Wearing PPE

During the height of the pandemic, I could barely be bothered to wear pants, let alone a clean shirt. The motivation was lost on the stark fact that I would not leave the house for a week at a time. Why bother getting gussied up just to show off my fresh digs to the dog? Back on show site, my list of required apparel is growing longer. Steel-toed shoes, hard hat, high-vis vest, gloves, eye protection, ear protection, mask, etc. As an American, I was a late adapter to this level of PPE requirements. (We don’t like requirements in the USA.) But now, I’m happy to wear whatever is required of me because it means that I am working. I’m aware that it is silly to be wearing a hard hat while programming far away from any work being done overhead, but I wear it with pride. I’m happy to be wearing a hardhat because it means I am alive and I’m working. I’m grateful that someone cares enough about my health and safety to go far beyond what is logical to keep me safe.

Seeing Online Photos of Big Crowds and Lights

Pre-pandemic, I will shyly admit that I could grow jealous of seeing massive crowds crammed together in front of stage lighting. I’d brazenly but silently wonder why I had not received a call to go do that particular gig. I’d wish that I could leave my current job and go do bigger gigs in more exotic places. Even during the pandemic, seeing photos of massive crowds and sensational lighting looks, my jealousy bone would shoot out of my chest. It was only when I realized that the photo had been taken pre-pandemic that I could suture the bone back into my chest cavity. Nowadays, I am elated to see photos of huge crowds. My tinge of jealousy has been replaced with pride and camaraderie. I am so happy to see my fellow lighting geeks back at FOH. I am glad to see human beings gather safely.

Muscle Memory

After a year away from the console, many people are finding that our muscle memory has relaxed. Pre-pandemic, I could hit buttons across the console without even looking. They were in the same place that they had been for several years. I knew where they were because I relied on them daily. Their position was stored in my hands and not in my brain. After not relying on them for so long, the muscle memory has faded. Currently, this lack of memory is only exacerbated by the fact that I am running MA2 on the MA3 platform. My personal opinions aside, the buttons are not where they used to be. I have reached for the NEXT button only to find FULL or CLEAR too many times. It’s frustrating to say the least. I had to explain to the designer that I am rusty and please be patient while I flounder around to regain my dexterity. Luckily, I have found acceptance in the relearning process, and I am happy to just be at a console again.

Grumpy Co-workers

During the pandemic, I realized that I don’t have many friends. Our profession requires us to make friends out of our coworkers. Regardless of whether I would hang out with these people outside of work or not is irrelevant. We are going to be spending a lot of time together, so we better make the best of it. These are the people that we will share a refrigerator, a bus seat and even showers with for months. We become a tribe whether we want to or not. After weeks and months on end, people get grumpy. We must still show up for work and put our best face forward. Now that I am back on show site, I am just glad to see people working. I am guilty of bypassing some social distance regulations to sneak in a quick hug. I can’t help being overjoyed to see these people alive, well and employed.

We have been through so much as individuals and as an industry. There are so many small nuances that we love to complain about. Having new perspective, I will celebrate these minor grievances over sitting at home in uncertainty any day of the week.

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