I did a bad thing yesterday. I broke one of the Dressage Show Commandments: Thou Shalt Never Yell At A Volunteer.
To that volunteer, standing on the steps that lead down to the arena floor by the in gate, at the early hour of 8:00 am, I apologize.
For me, it was the culmination of several days of frustrations both large and small that I encountered while trying to do my job here at WEG, and it was just a last straw that made me snap at her.
It started when I arrived at my press hotel in Richmond and I realized that the inflated price I was paying at that dingy hotel was the same price that we had paid several weeks ago for a 20th floor suite at THEhotel, at Mandalay Bay, in Las Vegas. You know the sort of rooms I’m talking about. The room in Richmond smells of hard use and carpeting that is past its prime. The one in Vegas included a granite shower, soaking tub, flat screen tvs, designer hair products, outlets placed at every strategic location in the rooms, and immaculate … everything.
The minute I arrived at my Richmond hotel, I felt taken advantage of. I, and most of the other press staying at those hotels, had prepaid for our rooms months ago, through Shorts Travel Agency, which had been put in charge of booking all the Lexington area rooms for WEG. We knew the prices bordered on gouging, and we were told that those rates were non-refundable, too. So imagine my dismay when, standing at the counter checking in, a walk-in arrived and was given a price for the night of one third of what I had already paid.
The long distances lugging equipment from the parking lots take their toll before I’ve even started to work each day. I’d thought that augmenting my usual workout with jaunts up the 600 ft elevation gain of my local mountain would suffice for fitness training, but apparently I should have been doing my hikes with a full photo pack.
Add to that the lack of sleep due to delayed flights and traffic nightmares, and going several days without eating a meal that didn’t come from a fast food joint. Add one night with no dinner whatsoever because the line at the food stand took longer than my break. Add to that having to pay extortionary prices when I could get food and water on site. Add on the communications breakdown that led to no one knowing that the dressage vet inspection had been moved up one hour, leading to my missing that wonderful opportunity for candid & portrait shots.
The final straw: There is a beautiful rubber-footed path that leads from the warm up ring behind the Stadium, through the grandstand, and into the main arena. Halfway down that path is a well-designed gate that rolls away to create a pedestrian crosswalk. Except that the Powers That Be decided that there should be no crosswalk there. Ever. Someone had designated that rubber path as part of the Field of Play, and it was decreed that even those of us who were credentialed were not to go there. The problem was, our photo pen at the “A” end of the arena was about 30 yards from there.
At this point we were about 20 minutes away from our first horse in the Grand Prix. At first we were told to walk into the Stadium, down the stairs to the floor of the arena, and walk across inside the ring during the break. But when we arrived at that point, another volunteer told us that the only way to access our pen was to walk all the way around the stadium, which would take about 10 minutes even without trying to dodge the crowds.
That was when I broke the Commandment.
It was wrong of me. She was only doing what her superior told her to do. The real problem was the idiocy of not using the expensive and well-designed gates on the walkway to do what they were designed to do. My volunteer was simply the last teeny tiny thing … so again, I apologize.
Fortunately I ate a real meal, sitting at a computer-free table, with a glass of wine, with great company last night. That’s bound to improve my outlook.