By Nick Voss
Owner, Treffen Saint John
It occurred to me this week that AV technicians experience the most fascinating lives. This is the best career choice anyone could make and if I had to go back I’d pursue a life in audiovisual and staging all over again.
This past Sunday, I staged an event for Justin Baldoni, who plays the main character in Jane the Virgin TV series. An interesting chap he is. He travels everywhere with his beautiful wife and newborn daughter. As he was giving his talk, we could hear his daughter crying in the Ritz-Carlton foyer. Not missing a beat, he cleverly wove the crying baby into his speech. The audience swooned. What a cool guy this Justin Baldoni is, I thought to myself. He hasn’t been corrupted by stardom. Furthermore, he and his entourage treated me not as a lowly technician, but as an important partner in making his program go its best — and it did.
On Tuesday we had lunch designed for royalty. Many conference attendees left early and in order to fulfill the $100 per person food and beverage guarantee, I was invited to dine along. Most of this food would have otherwise been wasted. Of course, I eagerly accepted. When the meal was finished, the customer inquired if I’d like to take home all the leftover food (prepared by Ritz-Carlton celebrity chefs). The customer instructed the resort staff to box up the goods and he himself carried everything to my truck, which was parked at the loading dock. I’ve been eating shrimp every night since then and tonight I’m having leftover bison! I still have the pulled pork in the freezer.
Only an AV technician can shut down the airport in America’s sixth largest city and not go to jail. On my drive home, the aforementioned customer wanted to hitch a ride from Tucson to the Sky Harbor airport. A New Yorker he is, a true Manhattan man, he expressed interest in spending time with his AV technician while admiring the Arizona desert rather than listen to an Uber driver with whom he had no connection. As long as he didn’t mind a bouncy Penske truck, I welcomed the companionship. As we approached Sky Harbor Terminal 4, we were pleasantly surprised to find that I could drop him off at the curb. Though searching diligently we did not notice any height restrictions. After I exited the ramp I was greeted with a sign that alerted me to a mere 12’ clearance. I was now stuck; no going back now. As I pulled to the center to allow traffic to pass, PHX PD rushed to the scene. They did not fault me. One sympathetic officer admitted that it happens all the time. “Happens all the time? Why don’t you install signs at the top so this never happens again?”, I thought.
But some problems are not meant to be solved. The police had a system in place to get things moving again. Their efficiency gave me reason to believe that indeed it does happen all the time. Nearby barricades moved swiftly into place and an army of police officers showed up at once from nowhere to seal off traffic, and in fifteen minutes I was on my way. The incident shut down all eastbound traffic along the north side of Sky Harbor Terminal 4 during rush hour traffic. Those of you who may have missed your flight due to my Penske blocking the way can be assured I did my best to redeem myself by writing Sky Harbor police requesting signs on the upper ramp to prevent this from happening again. But since “it happens all the time,” I do not expect to see height restriction signs anytime soon. By this time I assume some of you are pondering Einstein’s famous definition of insanity. Hey, I’ve been paying attention to those “root cause” analysis talks the management gurus bandy on about in their high-dollar conference speeches.
That same week, Thursday, I staged an event in Carefree, Arizona at a luxurious Arabian horse facility. I was told the property belonged to “a famous golfer.” That famous golfer turned out to be Tom Lehman, who I had bossed around all afternoon thinking he was one of the landscapers. Oops!
Only an AV technician has the ability to humiliate himself further and get away with it. Nearby another fellow set tables and performed menial chores of various sort. Wherever assistance was needed the young chap was eager to jump in. Eventually he retrieved a guitar from his car. Assuming he was an event volunteer and a sometimes local musician recruited to provide evening entertainment, I instructed him to connect his guitar and we’d do a sound check. After strumming a few chords I thought to myself, “Hmmm… this fellow is pretty good.” I then asked him to sing a few bars into the vocal mic. Whoa! This ain’t no ordinary cowboy beer hall singer!
Me: Do you know Brothers of the Highway?
Him: Yes, I think I know that one. [plays a few bars]
Me: Did anyone ever tell you that you sound exactly like George Strait?
[laughter all around me]
The man was Blaine Larsen. What was I thinking? Now that I’ve driven a few additional nails into my coffin, I pledged to shut up and pursue good behavior, nor would I dig the ditch I’ve made any deeper.
At the end of the evening it came time to collect the check from the client. Expecting a reprimand because I’ve insulted every celebrity within earshot, instead the client gave me a substantial gratuity because, “This was the best sound we ever heard and you and your crew did a great job. A few others said the same thing.”
The best sound you ever heard? It kinda helps when Blaine Larsen is singing!
The next morning, we staged another event at Scottsdale’s Westworld where a well-known national charity was having a staff meeting. To keep costs low, we agreed that I would use VGA projection instead of HD. Once on-site, the client realized her new computer had HDMI output only. During the setup, I anticipated such a predicament and had an HDMI-DVI conversion ready to go.
Client: You are, like, soooo awesome!
Me: Ma’am… it’s just another day in the life of an AV technician.
This blog was reposted with permission of Nick Voss and originally appeared here.