Friday, February 6, 2009

Final Thoughts on The EA Experience

Hard to say if this post belongs here. But, since I wouldn't even go to EA if I weren't trying to do a better job of training Jessie, here it is. Actually, it's more to help me digest the whole EA experience.

Maybe it's just best not to volunteer. What starts out as good intentions and a fun way to participate seems to just get all screwed up. The EA folks initially offered me a position as a paid volunteer (I never really found out what that meant exactly, and that's on me.). They bumped me from the roster three days before the event and I was left with the choice of not going or going without knowing how I would be received. I ended up floating between being staff and volunteer. I was a man without a title (or pay). It worked out well in some respects. I didn't really have to report to anyone. My supervisor said he would definitely work to get me a paid position next year. I doubt I would take it, unless it was as paid staff. Paid volunteers get meals, but not lodging. Management of this company seems a bit screwy to me. Two of the five days I worked, I was there from 7:20 am until after 9:30 PM and they never even offered me a meal.

Random Thoughts
I was able to get in early again on Saturday morning. I found a security guard and I told him I had stuff to do. What does it say about me that I relate to these guys better than I do the bosses?

There was a little tiff going on between two presenters. I guess one guy said he trained horses for the movie Hidalgo. In a later seminar, a different presenter said HE trained the horse used in Hidalgo. These guys usually go on a couple of times over the course of the show and I heard that the second time one of them went on people from the other camp heckled him during the presentation. It's so cute when adults act like children.

One of the ECR contestants was upset with the judging and pulled his second horse out of the competition.

Friday night before the ECR I got to ride in a golf cart with Julie Goodnight back to her booth. I mentioned I was Ranae's husband and we chatted briefly about her episode. Julie said she always go a lot of comment about that episode. Ranae got to reconnect with her on Saturday and, while I wasn't there, she said they had a nice talk.

We did buy a very nice art print to hang in our bedroom. The seller was working us to buy a different, bigger print, but our house isn't that big. Besides I didn't really care for the frame.

Ranae's first task as a volunteer was moving cases of water for the big boss, the same one I moved the programs for. Her impressions were just as icy. Ranae did get to drive the gator as we broke down the round pen. She did stellar job. (They just don't let ANYBODY drive the vehicles).

I was in a food line and someone asked me if I was a clinician. That was flattering.

The cost of the whole experience is tough to measure. There were a lot of things I would not have bought like a new pair of boots and a leatherman. The hard numbers for the 5 days were:
$24 Parking
$400 for the hotel
$150 meals

From the time they "hired" me in August I worked "toward" the event. I worked out 3 times a week so I would be in shape for the long days, I had to plan ahead so my business would run relatively smoothly while I was gone, and I had to prepare to be away from home for a week. There was a lot of work involved. And, the "catch-up" week following the event has been really exhausting.

I did learn from the clinicians and I learned non-horse stuff from all the people who actually run the show. Those guys who keep track of all the little stuff to make it a smooth operation are really good at their job. The guys all talked about how they started as volunteers and "proved" themselves. This was my fourth year volunteering if I haven't proved myself by now...

That's enough venting. Back to training stuff on Monday...
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