The chaos continues

Trip Start Aug 07, 2009
Trip End Dec 31, 2009

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Flag of United States  , New Jersey
Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Whew. Another day in North Bergen. Tell ya what, this is tough. Fortunately, we only have one more day. And it's only in the morning. The bummer is that this is our last night in our wonderful Ramada. I'm reclining in our leather recliner just because I can.

But today was crazy. It didn't necessarily start that way. Sure, street parking was again a stressful issue, but God opened a spot right by the entrance after I had driven several blocks in all directions. This morning's school though, was actually very nice. The auditorium looked new. The stage was plenty large enough for our set, the acoustics were obliging, and the audience was nice. In addition, the staff around us was very helpful and friendly. There were no stairs--just a loading dock from our van to the hallway. We had no problems setting up, and we had a few helpful hands help us load up the van to head out. Success!

We arrived at our afternoon school. As Kelsey stayed with our illegally parked vehicle, I went to the main office to announce our presence. There was Mr. Becker (our contact person for this whole week--the district supervisor who has scheduled our shows here in the North Bergen school district), already talking with one of the administrators.

Now, we have decided that we like Mr. Becker. Beside the fact the he is a nice guy, it is so nice to have a familiar face for a few days. Our job inherantly keeps us hopping around twice a day every day, so we never see someone we've already met. But Mr. Becker travels to each of the schools we are going to in the district. Furthermore, he knows what we need, and, since he is head over anybody in that school building, he can make sure we get it.

So anyway, I walk into the main office, struggling to get anyone's attention, and Mr. Becker emerges from the office talking with an administrator who is a bit frazzled, saying "Oh my goodness, I completely forgot!"

I'm thinking... "Great."

So I walk with them to the gymnasium. It is a tiny, cramped little gymnasium about half the size of a basketball court. There is a very very small stage on one end, covered in chairs, boxes, and choir stands. The rest of the room is filled with boys shooting hoops.

I'm thinking... "Great."
The stage didn't have enough room for us to assemble the screens, so we would have to assemble them on the floor, which would endanger our equipment due to flying, uncontrolled basketballs. Not to mention, the stage was four and a half feet high and threatening to make our set-up one heck of a struggle.

Mr. Becker asks how many kids will be seeing the show.
"About three hundred"
I'm thinking... "Great." Three hundred kids all sitting on the floor of this tiny gymnasium--but only alowed to take up half of it, beause our projectors have to sit so far away from the screens, that they would be halfway across this room.

Well... this is a problem. They direct me to a courtyard where I can park the van to unload, but I couldn't stay there the whole time because kids will be out there. Fine, that's okay, I just need to unload quickly.

We do so, and unload everything from the van onto our dolly-cart just outside the gym. As we are about to begin setting up, the administrator comes up to us and shows us an alternative room. Option #2 is a newer room that functions as the cafeteria. There is a small, low stage on the far end, similar to yesterday afternoon's school. There are no flying basketballs, but there are hundreds of elementary schoolers eating lunch. And they wouldn't done eating until 1:00.
For a 1:15 show. Hah!

Kelsey and I are thinking... "Great."

But we had to do it. There was a lot more room to work with here than in the other gym. We figured we could at least set up the three screens on stage while the kids were eating, and then set up the projectors and stuff in the 15 minutes before showtime.

We carted all of our stuff down the hallways to our new set-up location. The administrator told me that I could park in the parking garage underneath the school, and she had one of the custodians come with me to escort me in. That actually worked out great. No street parking, and come to find out, all we needed to do afterward was cart our equipment into the elevator and there was our van!

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

We set-up according to plan. We managed to erect the screens on the stage, right in front of a divider wall that formed the back wall of the room. It also formed the wall and only door into the band room. The band teacher opened the door the few inches that he could, and squeezed out from behind the screens to try to figure what the heck was going on.

He was cordial and understanding enough. Especially for finding out that our loud show would interfere with his band rehearsal and lessons.After negotiating with him, he decided to reschedule his band lessons for after the show, and we agreed to move our set a couple feet forward so he could get into his room. Fair. But crazy.

Anyway, we continued on. We got to a point where there was absolutely nothing else we could do until the kids left the room. So we waited. One o'clock came and went. 1:05 approached, and a few classes had filed out. We didn't have the room to ourselves (and the janitors) until 1:10 (remember--1:15 showtime).

So we scrambled to our positions to set up our projectors and make our cable connections. Just then, they started sending in the kids for the show! We had to continue quickly and undaunted. Sure enough, five minutes later, we were showable.


It's just a tough position to be in. You see, we are responsible for getting the show up on time no matter what. No matter how unobliging the school is, no matter how unorganized they are, no matter the scheduling conflict, no matter how many kids and activities are buzzing around. We absolutely must get the show up on time, and yet protect our equipment. We're ordinarily scheduled to have an hour and a half to set up. In order to graduate from training, we had to set up in 45 minutes. In real life, due to circumstances beyond our control, we may have even less time than that. But the show must go on.

And so must life.
And laundry.


- Mike
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