It is snowing. Hard. And Here is Atlanta, and There is Canada. The world in which I am dabbling is the event world, one I moved in smoothly for years, many years back. Enough years past to make me feel really old when spoken of out loud.
Three weeks ago, I left for south Florida to close out the contract I have maintained and prospered from for four years. A falling, flailing, failing company, I was not surprised by the abrupt dismissal by cell phone over Christmas break.
The news was sharply, suspiciously delivered. Gavin had unprofessional, violent ideas for how I should respond. I demurred, ignored his suggestions, and travelled to Florida at their behest to close out the contract, and train my replacement.
Doing so opened this event door, and soon I had tacked on a contract for ten days' worth of work for a certain couple of high-profile football games, also in Florida. That was last week.
The first 2/3 of the trip - in an office, with low-key responsibilities - was torturous. People were suspicious, uncomfortable. The environment breeds self-protection, chilly self-interest. I was training someone to take my job. My every move was projected on a wall. The recipient of my attention was overwhelmed by the information - and humorless. The ten hour days felt eternal.
I would step outside, just to break up the day. Just to breathe air that hadn't already been breathed, filtered, and returned. To get away from darting eyes and the closed tiny room. And the projector.
The final third of the same trip - in parking lots and bus zones, barking into radios and standing in the rain, breathing diesel fumes - was somehow fun. People were, if sometimes overzealous, generally open. The environment breeds openness, requires frequent exchanges of information and instant familiarity. Trust is necessary, and responsiveness rewarded (by systems that work). Humor is critical and within reach. A ten-hour day would be short.
I was driving across a parking lot, on a golf cart, on the prettiest day we had. I had just dropped a cameraman at his car, while running a courtesy golf cart shuttle for media during media day. I felt crazy lucky to be there. And I thought, "who wouldn't love this?" With little effort I thought of ten, twelve people who wouldn't.
There is no glamour in it. It is working in events, yes. But it is operations. It is transportation. Bus zones, parking lots, motor pools. Bus boards, parking permits, driving routes. A perfect day is one in which the people you are moving (or parking or directing) don't notice. And you eat bad box lunches. And you fall into bed after too-long days - and you can't always get the diesel out of your pores.
Years ago, when I first did this, the boyfriend I was leaving behind for the second time, for my second event, gave me an ultimatum. Him or Them. The them he described, pretentiously and unpleasantly as "misfits and malcontents."
Which sounded at least interesting. I picked them.
I met my husband working that last event 14 years ago. His competency was highlighted by his largeness. I had spun out a little, in a job for which I was under-qualified. I hired him to help me get a handle on all the parts. My boss, when he figured out we were dating, said something to the effect of "thank God. He is your rudder."
I will be so glad to be home, when I am home. When this is an adventure in retrospect, when I am at the other side of too-long days and mishaps I can't yet quite imagine. When three weeks in a 'bungalow,' whose online commentary includes one disgruntled visitor's succinct rating of "creepy," are over. When I can again tuck in my Littles. And thank my husband again, in person, for being so tolerant and willing.
But for now, from here - trying to leave Atlanta with three inches of snow on the ground - it sounds fun. I am so pleased to be a part. To have a husband willing to engage in this outrageous six-week single-parenting experiment. To have three more weeks of pay. To wear the uniform, to smile through grit. To be a tiny piece of something so much bigger. And to fit.