Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Oh, Magoo, You've done It Again

Arriving on Wednesday

Equine Affaire was over for me early this year. They could not just leave me alone to do the work I was hired for. Management just had to f#$k with me for the pettiest of reasons. But I'll get back to that later...

EA required me to be in Pomona for a meeting 8PM on Wednesday, but I really enjoy the set up and I got there at about 10am. One of the paid crew was having flu symptoms and was looking green-ish. There wasn't very much to do until the afternoon because we had to let the exhibitors move in. Once they got settled we were tasked with laying down mats and taping roofing paper to the floor for the horses to walk on. A back-aching job for sure. Three of us got in a rhythm and we laid some rolls down staying busy for a couple of hours.

We finished around 6:30 in time for me to get over to the covered arena and help set up the Extreme Cowboy Race that would take place Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (Finals) night. We took measurements and taped notes to the outside of the arena so we would know where to put the obstacles. The course didn't have a lot of drama but it was very complicated and, since we would have to duplicate the course for each qualifying round Thursday and Friday, our measurements had to give us a clear picture to set the course the same way both nights. (This arena is 200 x 400 I think - it's huge).

The Program Director, her assistant, and I finished just in time to get to the 8 PM meeting. We got instructions and guidance on Expo procedures (boring). After dinner we set up some of the demo rings and I got checked into my room about 9:45 PM. My roomate (everyone had to share) was part of the mgmt team, the husband of the president of the company. Why he didn't have a private room was beyond me, but again, more on that later...

A Quick Workout and to Bed

The hotel had a workout room and I went for a run on the treadmill, took a sauna and a shower and got back to the room about 11, reviewed my notes, and went to sleep. My Roomie woke at 4:20 am because he was working one of the entrance gates at 6:30. I got up at 6 and had breakfast at 7. Even though I wasn't required to start until 8:45, I wanted to insure my venue was set up correctly.

As it turned out, I was assigned the Venue Manager for the large covered arena, the largest venue on the grounds. While I was surprised at the assignment, I was excited by the challenge. My first three presenters were Ken McKnabb, Craig Cameron, and Barbara Schulte, the world class cutting horse trainer. These guys were about as nice as people could be. Right before he was ready to go on a woman walked up and asked Craig for a picture for her son. Without hesitation he posed and gave the woman a few words of encouragement to pass along to her boy. Ken was telling us stories about his Dad as he was getting ready. They all were just very warm and friendly.

Everything went exceptionally smoothly and in the afternoon I had Tommy Garland, Ken, and Barbara. At 7PM we set the ECR course and our measurements worked out well(we had set them without using the actual obstacles, so I think we did pretty good).

At 7:30 the first qualifying round started. There were 17 riders. We finished taking the course down and getting it out of the arena around 10:30 pm. It took another half an hour to get our radios checked in and I made it back to my room about 11:30. I was whipped. My Roomie was sound asleep.

Black Friday

Friday, Roomie was up at 5am and out by 6 when I got up. I was first into the breakfast room again. Another mgmt team member came in and joined me. She specifically mentioned how pleased she was to have me on the team and was quite pleased with the job I was doing before we moved the conversation to other areas. I headed out at 7:30 to get my arena ready for the day.

Rains came and made some of the tasks more difficult, but at least I was in the covered arena. We had cattle coming in at 8am and had to set up for Barbara's cutting demo. Barb threw us a small curve when she asked if we could set up a flag machine she had borrowed from Richard Wilhelm for her afternoon demo. We made the necessary adjustments and her early morning demo went great. The cows were good and it was fun to watch.

After the cutting demo we hosted the Paso Finos with their wooden ramp that's heavier than s*&t. The breed demo coordinator was a real piece of work. I let her start 10 minutes early and she still went 10 minutes long. We couldn't get her off the mike!

Then we had Ken, Craig and Barb's afternoon demo with the flag machine. The flag machine was extremely easy to set up and worked great. This was pretty cool: As I said, Craig Cameron had the demo before and he was hanging out at the gate after I took his microphone off. I was helping Barb with the headset and Craig asked her if he could ride in her demo. Of course, she said yes and he said, "Just treat me like any other student." And, she did. It was a really fun demo.

It was just before midday when the trouble started for me. The venue was running great. The announcer, a long-time employee, had complimented me on how well it was running and how I handled the presenters. Trouble started when the EA travel/hospitality coordinator drove up and asked to speak with me. She said that Roomie had just realized he needed privacy to complete his work. They were going to get me another room only it would be at a different hotel. Now, Roomie has been doing this job for years and I really couldn't understand how his need for privacy was a "new" development. I pleaded with her to not send me to another hotel (all the rooms in our hotel were full). She said she would get back to me.

This totally threw me. Almost every quarter hour was full of things to do. I was halfway through my clothes. Packing and moving was not going to be easy. My clothes for each day were all laid out and carefully organized in MY room. What was I going to do? Get back at 11 pm, throw all my clothes in a suitcase and drive to another hotel? What was the reason again? The site crew guys could see I was stunned and asked what had happened. When I explained about the sudden need for privacy and that I was asked to move they said, "Oh, you probably snore. Roomie does that to people if they snore." Are you f%^cking kidding me?!?

I guess word got around to other team members and another person told me the same thing. Now, just for the record, I do snore, but not loudly (according to my wife) and not the entire time I sleep. We are only in the room together 6 hours a night. How bad could it be?

Anyway, the hospitality gal came back and asked if I would agree moving in with the two other site crew guys and sleep on their sofa bed. I agreed, but almost immediately regretted the decision. I said "okay" BUT that I would need a room key and 30 minutes "off" time BEFORE the ECR to move my stuff. I really didn't want to change rooms at 11pm. I WASN'T going to change rooms at 11pm. I was upset and my presenter was just ending their demo when I gave my instructions. Maybe I wasn't crystal clear that I wanted her to make arrangements for the extra time and deliver me the key, but she's the hospitality gal, she knows how to accommodate people.

I went back to work. Tommy Garland, then Ken McKnabb presented. We ran and had a quick dinner. I only ate an apple and used my 20 minutes to add clothing as it was cool in the outdoor arena during the race.

At 7pm we set the course. No key, no 30 minutes. We had 16 riders running that evening. I had been the event timer both nights. The race went as expected. The stands were full. After the race we tore down the course and went to turn in our radios. It was raining and we had to wait for security to let us in the building. A couple of people gave us their radios and we agreed to meet in the lounge. Security couldn't be reached and we stood out there for 20 minutes. Finally, I decided to head out and find a security officer. I worked my way back to the hotel. I found the guy from the night before and he go on the radio for us. He arranged for security to go help the folks with the radios.

I walked in the lounge at 11pm and there was the hosp gal and a couple of the site crew guys. We chatted a bit and one site crew guy said to me, "Did you pick up the hotel key?"

"No", I said, "I agreed it had to come to me with 30 minutes relief time before the EC race." By now the "snoring" thing had really started to chap my ass. Hospitality gal said she was sorry, she must have misunderstood, but I couldn't stay in that room tonight. I told her if I packed to move, it was to move home. She asked me not to. This was the second time EA had altered an agreement with me at the last minute. I felt a dangerous precedent was being set. And, I know I am prideful to a fault, but I considered this a matter of honor.

Again she reiterated I couldn't stay in the room and I told her I would go talk to Roomie. I won't detail what we talked about, except that I tried to appeal to his reasonable side. He clung to his fabrication and remained steadfast in his need for privacy.

The drive home was through pouring rain. Traffic stopped for a time because of an accident, and I finally pulled into my driveway around 2 am. Ranae was set to head down for her Matt Sheridan demo and is there now as I write this. She didn't feel it was fair to the friend going down with her or Matt to cancel at the last minute and I agree with that decision.

The three days I worked were very cool. A complete departure from the work I normally do. Meeting the presenters and being in charge of the Covered Arena was very exciting. Other than Roomie, everyone at Equine Affaire could not have been nicer to me. And even then, had it not been the second time Equine Affaire jerked me around, I would have sucked it up and moved to the sofa bed.

I talked to some of the Fairplex people. The Fairplex sits adjacent to a horse race track. Because they are extending the racetrack next year the covered arena and some other areas will be demolished and it's quite likely Equine Affaire won't be held there next year.
Post a Comment