Outside Looking In

Over the past three days, I have been working with one of our bigger clients as they met for their annual state-wide gathering. All in all, it was a successful event on our side of things. Sure, there were a few glitches but we carried on and made it all come together. (There was a series of power outages the first night which messed a few things up and the power went off again overnight last night which reset a number of things and caused some issues.) We were using the facility’s projectors which, to be honest, are older and not as effective as ours would’ve been. C’est la vie. Those in charge were pleased with our work and we feel good that they feel good.

The organizing staff, with whom we work on a number of projects year-round, are great people. The support staff, in particular, are a group of outstanding women who do some amazing work. They are extremely friendly, hospitable, and are some of the warmest people we have the pleasure of serving. We’ve worked with them for a number of years now and have developed more of a partnership in many ways, as opposed to a client-vendor sort of relationship.

All that being said, this was an emotionally difficult few days. While we and the staff shared some good times joking around and relieving some of the stress a large event brings to those responsible for making things run smoothly, I had a hard time feeling at ease there. Without going into much detail, the presenters who spoke over the course of the event rubbed me the wrong way – confirming the fact that had I not been there for work, I would never attend such a meeting. It’s not about them personally, really. In all truth, I found most of them to be very nice people who speak very well in front of groups – I respect this skill because I don’t feel I have it and I appreciate it when those I am listening to do.

What got to me was the content of their presentations. (I know it’s hard to see where I’m coming from if I won’t come out with the specifics, or even the general ideas, but I think it’s best to leave it a little more vague given our working relationship.) While they continued on through their talks, nearly every sentence – or, at least, every other one – seemed to be coming from a source of fear and desperation. They, themselves weren’t afraid or desperate, to the contrary they were extremely confident, but they seemed to be spreading a certain amount of fear. And to hear the sounds of agreement and affirmation from the crowd made me a bit uncomfortable that what was coming out of the speaker’s mouth was falling on receptive ears…

And there I was, one of only two people in the entire room of over 500 that felt the exact opposite. I must say though, one of the upsides was that the band, while a little too loud for my taste, was quite good.

As a cameraman at events such as this I am often positioned somewhere along the center aisle about 4 rows from the front almost directly in front of the podium. So basically, I am surrounded. And it was really hard to have to listen to this stuff for three days straight without any escape. Let me tell you, I was about as focussed on my camera work as I have ever been! My eyes rarely left my monitor and I was smoother than ever!

At the end, when we were finally all packed up and out the door, I felt weary. Events like this are normally tiring and physically demanding during setup and striking and my right shoulder is usually quite sore from being elevated while running camera. Usually, though, it’s not as emotionally taxing. The only events that left me with a similar feeling were General Conferences. What I felt at those conferences was on a different level which was certainly much more personal and painful. This time, though, I was about as fatigued as a bystander could be.

It was tough.

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