Sunburn and Hippies: A Long, Hot Weekend.

So Mountain Jam X was held locally this past weekend. If you’re too lazy to click the link, it is a huge music festival that is held every year. The music is not really up my alley, so I don’t really know how to describe it without sounding jerkish and judgmental. Simply put, it appeals to ‘hippies’ both the original generation and the newer one.

The security company I work for on the side (yep, another side job) was looking for bodies to stand posts directing traffic and restricting access to different points of the venue. I agreed to work for them Friday-Sunday, figuring some extra cash would be nice. I knew that atop my regular day job and night-shift commitments to the ambulance that this would lead to a long weekend, but I figured “what the hell, why not?”

I was put on a post directing parking-pass holders to their appropriate lots. I spent three days there. Three 8 hour days with no shade, nor even a chance to sit down until my half-hour lunch break came along, when I wandered into the venue to the vendors to get some food and sit down at a filthy picnic table for a few moments. Thankfully, we were given $10 meal ticket vouchers…which did not cover the cost of a burger and fries at twelve bucks.

Gradually over the course of the weekend, the temperatures rose, as did the cost of a bottle of water. On one break I picked up two bottles of water for myself and the guy I was sharing my post with…. for $6.

As a result of working in the middle of the road for 25 hours over the course of three days, I have managed to get one hell of a sunburn on my arms and the lower part of my face. Yep, just half. Wearing sunglasses and my high-peaked, old-man looking ball cap that reads simply “SECURITY” – the upper half of my face remains white as a ghost, while from halfway down the bridge of my nose to my neckline resembles a freshly boiled lobster. There are even hilarious little triangles of red at my temples where the sunglasses and my hat failed to meet.

Source: Me.

The backs of my hands and arms are singed to a toasty red crisp as well. And don’t ask me why I didn’t use suncreen. I did. But unless its SPF 1700, I’ve never had much luck with the stuff. I’ll be going through a lot of aloe in the next few days.

At any rate.

I made a few people-related observations that I’d love to share.

  • There were tens of thousands of patrons of this event, and 99% of them were completely awesome. Friendly, happy, and personable. We were constantly offered drinks, (everything from water to shots of vodka) we were thanked by people when we were able to help them out…At one point I had a carload of people leave the lot and tell me they were going for pancakes. As I waved them out, they asked if I wanted anything. Jokingly, I said “Yeah, sure!” an hour later they came back with a takeout carton of the most amazing blueberry pancakes I ever ate.
  • In spite of this, when you have so many people in one location, there are bound to be a number of individuals who are bent on making life miserable for anyone they meet. I was called a dick by one man because I told him the lot was full. Another guy decided that since the only open spot he could see was a handicapped one, that it was good enough for him. Incidentally, his beautiful black Mercedes took a ride OUT on the back of a
  • Despite the majority of the patrons of the event being sandal and hemp wearing ‘save the earth‘ type people, they know how to seriously trash a venue. When I came in yesterday morning, I passed by vendors on my right that were selling organic clothing and vegan food. On my left was the hillside in front of the stage that looked like what I imagine Time’s Square must at 1am on January 1st. The place was an absolute field of every form of garbage you can imagine. One of the guys I worked with was yelled by a lady because at the wash station outside of the port-o-potties, he used three pieces of paper towel and that was wasteful. Meanwhile, 200 yards behind her head was a landfill that her compatriots had created the previous night.
  • Port-o-potties are nasty. We all know this, but it needs to be said. And I don’t know who decided it should be standard operating procedure to leave all the seats up in them when they leave, but dayum.
  • Old (read: original) hippies are awesome. Emulators from my generation are condescending.
  • When you hire volunteers, you often get what you pay for. We were sent a number of kids who were volunteering in order to get into the concert for free after a number of hours. A few of them were very good, including one young girl who I underestimated. I pegged her immediately as the “I’m cute and I know it, so don’t you dare talk to me” type, but I was wrong and she busted her ass helping us out in the lot. The rest of them though….eesh. One of them spent four hours making sure one particular boulder lining the parking lot wouldn’t blow away in the wind by holding it down with his ass. Two others were a couple, and their main concern was testing the limits of PDA.
  • A certain segment of population is under the impression that rules are meant for everyone else but them. I had a number of conversations that went like this:
    “Good afternoon sir, where are you headed?”
    “I’m just looking for parking.”
    “Do you have a parking pass?”
    “No, I just need a place to park for a little while.”
    “Sorry sir, these lots are pass-parking only.”
    “Oh, okay. Well, can’t you just put me over there in the corner for a little while?”
    “Not without a parking pass.”
    “Look, I’m not going to be here long, I just want to meet up with my friends.”
    “There’s off-site parking for free where you can shuttle in.”
    “That’s a pain in the ass. There’s nowhere I can just pull off for a bit? Come on, help me out.”
    “No. You’re blocking traffic. Pull a U-turn and head out the way you came in. Thank you, sorry for the inconvenience.”
    ….and even after that, some of them would fail to understand the instructions “Do a U-turn and leave” and go driving around looking for a parking spot anyway. If they parked, they were towed. Shit happens.
  • People will often offer you insultingly small bribes to do things that can cost you your job. $20 to let you into a lot that everyone else paid $75  for is not fair to them, and I’ll get fired. I get irritated with these jerks constantly and I’m a little less cordial with them when I tell them “Do a U-turn and go away.”
  • The larger the event you’re working, the easier and more quickly communication and information breaks down. The majority of the issues we had were stemming from miscommunication at the entrance of the festival. Lines of information become crossed, people fail to pass words along, and in the end, it is the patron of the event that gets completely screwed, and ends up driving around the parking lots, security checkpoints, and ticketing centers nine times because nobody has a clue what is happening. We had policy and procedure changes the first day six or seven times in the first few hours alone.

However, in spite of most of these observations being negative, I had a ball. I enjoy interacting with people, helping them when I can, and working outside. Sunburn and all. There is another event next weekend, Taste of Country
I was asked to work that one, and I’ve already said “absolutely.”


2 thoughts on “Sunburn and Hippies: A Long, Hot Weekend.

    • It truly was. The people I work for/with are the pinnacle of professionalism and they treat their people very well. Like showing up halfway through a shift with another employee and saying “this is your replacement. Go eat lunch” and not just forgetting about you until your shift is over. But the best part was dealing with the people. So many of them were so happy to be there that they treated us with the utmost courtesy and respect, and at times I honestly felt bad about having to turn some away from a full lot or when there was nothing I could do to accommodate someone. I figure my sunburned skin will heal up nicely by the time I have to go back next weekend.

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