Over the past few months, I’ve been fortunate enough to have gone back to work on various projects, at different venues across the country. Some I never worked in before and others were the usual suspects, I’ve been to time and time again. These venues included hotel ballrooms, a catering hall, an outdoor stage and even a medical facility, which during COVID, was a little unsettling. One common refrain I heard on almost every gig was, this is the first anything we’ve had in “X” number of months or “we’ve been closed since March of last year and you are our first clients.”
While on these jobs, I noticed how happy people were to finally be back at work. Returning to their facilities, seeing people and on many occasions watching friends reconnect for the 1st time in a long time. Most of all however, I saw a very big difference in how these venues treated us, the crew.
In the past, especially among the popular venues, it seemed as though these places were doing us a favor by allowing us to come into their location. Being looked down upon was an understatement. Making us feel like groundlings being granted access to utopia, as opposed to being grateful that the client chose their venue to work in. Of course, this wasn’t every place I worked at, but it was a good percentage of them and these were almost always the most stressful conditions to work under.
Over the years I’ve experienced so many situations where hotel or venue staff where extremely uncooperative or rude to crew and even clients. Situations where they wouldn’t open a locked door, took an hour to respond to a call for a houseman, freaked out if tables or chairs had to move, wouldn’t give access to a loading dock, shortened our load out time and I bet all of us have had to work with the A/C turned off on a hot day.
These past few months though, it’s been different. It’s been almost perfect. Staff have been warm and friendly. They’ve smiled as we come into their buildings. They had water stations out for us, with cold water! Venues that were short on staff checked in with us multiple times a day to see if we were ok. Venue managers, who in the past almost never said 2 words to the crew, came down to welcome and thank us for being there. One hotel had their event manager stay with us almost the entire time through load in and load out to make sure the air never went off and that the house staff were responsive when things came up. Yeah, lately, it’s been Bizzaro-world!
As we are (hopefully) coming out of COVID restrictions in most of the country and many of us are getting back to work, I wonder how long this courtesy will last. It took a pandemic for people to realize not everything is guaranteed in life and that everyone’s job matters. I know there are many long hours. I know there are times where things change so much it’s frustrating beyond belief. I also know some AV and production companies have disrespectful people working for them, but those are the exceptions. That’s not all of us and that’s not every gig. The reason these venues are in business and these people have jobs is because someone decided to go there and spend money. Someone said, I like this place. Someone said, this would be a great location to spend a few hours or a few days at. Hopefully, now people realize this and don’t punish us for choosing their venue.