Formula 1 Austin came to a close yesterday, and I can't say I'm all that bummed about it. The weekend was an interesting one to say the least, and although there were some highlights, there were also some absolute lows.
First things first, the weather was absolute garbage. Torrential rain every single day. With Hurricane Patricia off the coast of Mexico, we were getting some of that gnarly weather by us. What did this mean for us while we worked? Standing in soaking wet shoes, and clothes, for hours. Ah, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
We picked up work with a company called Stadium People. They hire out for stadium events and pay pretty well just to keep things organized. We were hired as Premium staff for VIP suites. This we assumed, was a jackpot.
We went through two separate training events with other Circuit of the Americas Staff, which really were just about being prepared and being nice to people. We still didn't have any idea what our assignment was, nor where we were placed on the track. You see, Circuit of the Americas is huge. Over 20 turns, 3.4 miles long, with tons of suites and skyboxes. They were so adamant in the training that we know our surroundings and didn't give people wrong directions, yet it wasn't until 6:30am Friday that we even found out where it was we were working.
Which brings us to not working together. We were separated at first, and both had a terrible time finding out where we were going. There was so much error in organization, that we were sometimes dumbstruck with the lack of efficiency. This is a billion dollar track and a 300+ million dollar event -- how is it not more organized?!
But I digress, Vanessa and I did end up working together in the Owner's Box where we met some of the highlights of this meaningful work experience for us. Sarah, Rhonda, Tim, Anita, Pamela, and Brittany. The staff that busted their asses to keep the Owner's Tent running smoothly and efficiently. Not to mention, we all had some good laughs and silly banter the entire weekend. If it wasn't for Sarah and her always-positive spirit, or Rhonda and her kind-nature and determination for efficiency, we probably wouldn't have had very many highlights.
Because Saturday was absolute shit. There, I said it. We had to be at the track by 6:30am, which by then was already hurricane force winds. Mind you, we also needed to wear the COTA white shirt (which were fun to wear when wet) and black slacks with black dress shoes. Did we mention that employee parking was almost a mile from where we had to check in? After standing for 14 hours the day before in wet shoes and damp clothes, we needed to do it all over again, this time in worse weather. So, we packed our work clothes, threw on ponchos, shorts. and flip flops and braved the rain.
Really no reason to put on makeup or do our hair because by the time we showed up at the check in, we were drenched. But alas, our work outfits were dry and warm in our backpack. We walked in, weather beaten and dismayed, to have the woman checking us in say snidely, "Oh, you guys can't wear shorts to work." To which we undeniably replied, "Yes, we know. We walked in torrential rain to get here, and need to change into our uniforms." Maybe it's crazy of us to be expecting a "thank you for showing up!" Especially because we were some of the ONLY people there on time, and well really there at all. Alas, she didn't say thank you, instead she said, "Oh you have to change. Well snap snap."
Vanessa almost left.I still had to band-aid my heel blisters from the day before. But, we decided to be better people and make it work because we gave them our word. So we changed into our dry clothes, only to find out we were taking golf carts to the Owner's Club, so really, we ended up getting soaking wet anyway. And our umbrella broke.
I don't want to keep going on about all the negatives throughout the weekend, like walking a mile to where the gate should be open and shuttle there for pick-up, but it wasn't, and we were locked in, drenched after working 12 hours. Nor about the experience of working the Owner's Box itself and being looked down upon often by people simply because they have a few more commas in their bank account total. Or the fact my shoes broke at the start of day two because they were so absolutely soaked.......SO, I won't. But the worst part was that as I was getting over bronchitis-like symptoms from last week, and Vanessa came down with something after being waterlogged all weekend we ended up missing working on Sunday and didn't even get to see the actual race. We were heartbroken.
But I do need to say the highlights for me included:
Rosie having an extra pair of flats that I could use after my shoes broke. She brought them to change into after her boots got to be too much but gave them to me to wear all day instead.
Sarah giving me her extra pair of dry socks so that my feet weren't freezing and wet all day.
Chatting with Rhonda on the couch about tattoos and Japanese tea ceremonies. There's something to be said about a woman who marches unapologetically to the beat of her own drum that we admire and honor.
Seeing Lionel Richie.
Watching the Formula 1 cars practice, and seeing the ways they risk their lives doing something they absolutely love.
It was a hell of a weekend, and we're still feeling the backlash of being under the weather. But, onwards and forwards as we prepare for another weekend of finding work on the road at the Austin City Film Festival.
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