Updated: Sep 24, 2018
I am sitting in a scorching hot porter cabin 40 km outside of Paris. We are preparing for a major golf event and I am joined by my esteemed colleagues from the UK. Like most giant events, this event is built by foot soldiers. And that is what we are, foot soldiers. We are not thinkers we are doers. We have built a bloody big event in a field by marching from tent to tent, tee to tee and green to green. And all this exercise with my delightful French clients, the bullies and the basket cases.
What I find remarkable at events is the sense of importance that foot soldiers inhabit. Foot soldiers or cogs, this event will happen whether or not I am present or whether another foot soldier is wounded or fallen. Yet foot soldiers refuse to go home at the end of the day! They stay on and on in this overheated grey porter cabin as if their presence and the fate of the event are intertwined, how wrong they are...
The sport's events industry survives due to the abundance of foot soldiers who sign up for pennies because they either a) love the sport or b) are seasonal event junkies.
Category a) golfer lovers are a geeky bunch. Anyone who knows about the respiration benefits of gloves, or the evolution of the driver head size or the latest sweat proof hybrid is to be avoided. Otherwise you will find your self in a swamp of technical terms and metrics that will make understanding Hungarian seem easy. The main problem with the golf lover is they spend most of their time sneaking off to watch the golf rather than being the good diligent foot soldier. Luckily since I don't know a thing about golf I don't let such temptations affect the output of this foot soldier! Mais non this foot soldier has her eye on the target - get to the end of the week without throwing a caviar canape at any clients... that is my measure of success.
Category b) event junkies - define? Someone who obtains such an adrenaline high from working on an event that no other job (non-events) is rewarding. Event junkies, like extreme sports junkies, are constantly chasing event after event to try to cure the adrenaline craving. It's not a wave, a mountain, a jump or a fall, it's an event which deliveries their high.
Chasing events can inevitably lead to a nomadic lifestyle, where no roots are planted or real friends made. A well-seasoned event junkie is easy to spot, they are well weathered, usually tanned, they drink too much and have a vacant look in their eyes. Vacant because they have little to talk about other than the job at hand. Small talk is met with boredom, their boredom at your attempts makes you feel like you're the boring one. I try to dodge event junkies, no one likes to feel boring.
So, on the whole, I avoid the other foot soldiers with a few exceptions. I am fond of the water boys tasked with hydrating all stakeholder groups across the 18 holes. They remind me of a stable of horses, or more specifically Boxers, as they load and unload, strap and unstrap, sweat and grunt as they go about their important duties. Other foot soldiers worth keeping on side are the IT guys (nothing every works in a field) and the buggy supervisor unless you're looking to clock up 30,000 steps a day.
I am staying in a hotel in Versailles. I say hotel, there is no laundry service, no room service and no catering service after 10 am, and my bedroom is only slightly bigger than the bed, for me this does not constitute as a hotel. I will look up the EU commission's definition of a hotel before I file my complaint at the end of the 15-night stay.
Versailles is a jewel. Besides the Chateaux and its gardens, the town is full of quaint terraces, cafés, bars and other commerce. It is clean and colourful, its the sort of place where the rubbish collectors still collect even when the rest of France is on strike. They know which side of their bread is buttered; the Chateaux tourists have not come to see trash. So I potter around and ponder the sights, smells and sounds, contemplating a return to Paris after this event is over. An event built by foot soldiers for foot soldiers and a few French VIPs.