When I first got here and was about 8 days into this contract, I was whining to my colleagues that I was missing home because work wasn’t keeping me busy enough. Well.
Didn’t that little comment come back and kick me in the ass! Of course I still miss my family and home, but now I am generally doing so whilst trying to decide which of the 3 places I have to be in at once will actually get my physical presence! It doesn’t help that it takes about 45 minutes to get from point A to point B, regardless of where those points may be on a map!
I am not complaining about being busy – in fact, I quite prefer it – but the frantic pace and disorganization that seems to trickle down from the organizing committee is both comical and frustrating. Luckily, our team of contractors is an amazing group of international talent who don’t seem to get phased by much and is generally able to roll our collective eyes at the ridiculous requests and changes that crop up hourly. The fact that we can procure wildly overpriced beer in our hotel bar at the end of the day helps, too.
For the last 3 days we’ve been assembling and training our teams of medal bearers and escorts. When these people first arrived on day 1, I had very little faith that we’d be able to pull this together. Cast members (as we call them) were recruited by a temp agency and sent to us with no screening. 99% of them had no idea what they had signed up for. Let’s just say that the woman running the show on their end has a management style that differs wildly in my own and we ended up losing several cast members in the first hour. To be perfectly honest, if someone treated me the way she treated them, I’d be the first one out the door. Anyhow…
Miraculously, by the end of the first night, we’d managed to not only build 11 separate teams but they were all able to execute some pretty decent ceremony run-throughs. I was astounded and pleasantly surprised. Even more so when they all showed up for day 2! I suppose the real test will be to see how many show up for in-venue rehearsals in a few days. I am finding that bribing them with chocolate and promising mobile phone breaks seems to work wonders as these kids simply cannot function unless they are texting at the same time as they are doing something else. If you are looking for your next business venture, I think thumb physiotherapists could make a mint here.
I’ll be interested to see whether our military partners come through as our flag bearers. Lucky me, my flag supervisor at my venues doesn’t speak a word of English. When I asked him – via translator – if he enjoyed being part of this and doing ceremonial flag stuff, he deadpanned: “No.” Ok then! Look forward to working with you, sunshine!
A few random thoughts… Since our “hotel home” is so western and I am surrounded by 98375 other nationalities, I sometimes forget I am in the Middle East. That is, until we were told that the Sheikh (don’t ask me which one, this country has a few) was introduced during a venue tour to a woman in a v-neck t-shirt. She was given 24 hours to vacate her job. So! I never leave home without a scarf. Just one of those little cultural differences I sometimes forget… On the flip side, I was standing curbside waiting for my shuttle when one of the Qatari venue managers spotted me. He wandered over and asked what I was doing. I replied that I was waiting for my bus. His response: “No. I do not like you waiting. Get in my car, I will drive you”. And so, one quick Cadillac Escalade ride later, I was deposited on my doorstep by Mr. Abudullah Abdullah.
The next few days will be interesting and yes, busy. Rehearsals, deliveries, training, start of competition… provided we can get a start list… The competition manager is still waiting for confirmation as to which countries and players are coming. The tournament starts in 4 days. Fun times and long days ahead!