The sky darkens and rain comes down in buckets. There I stand before a line of twenty people looking to the sky as the rain comes down. My first reaction is to protect my equipment and flee, but fleeing is not an option.
To the right of me is Dave Evans under his hot dog stand umbrella, twisting balloons and cracking jokes about the rain as his line slowly thins out. Behind me I hear Andy McDonald make a mad dash to his van to retrieve a popup canopy.
In the distance you can hear the thunder crash. I know that just 30 yards from me is a football size tent with about 1,100 people huddled together under it. When I was young I would have made a dash to the big tent, to safety, to the mass craziness of wet people who would naturally engulf me, for now I was their only form of entertainment.
My choice was to work back-to-back with Andy. Yes, we could have cut and run, but the three of us knew that we had a tent filled with a thousand people watching us continue twisting. We were professionals, so we were prepared.
As time wore on, the rain increased, the rivers of water ran to the right and left of us, creating a small island. That was when we knew it was time to call it a day. We heard a rumor that the picnic was cancelled. There would be no fireworks show for this year’s event.
We joked and did our best to ensure the least amount of water damage occurred, then slowly secured our equipment and supplies in our vehicles. We did not hide the fact that we were wet. Our work area was a small pool, and we just waited for the official good-bye.
A drenched Vice President walked over to us. The look on her face said “What are you still doing here?” To her surprise we didn’t flee, we held our ground, and made sure we finished the lines. We survived the ordeal and are here with her at the end of a long wet day.
I have learned that overcoming adversity with a client helps build a relationship with them. While other vendors may have cut and run, we stood our ground until the final good-bye. So be it rain, heat, or bad planning, the job of a professional entertainer is to shine, overcome, and in the end make the client look great. I wish I had been a fly on the wall at their office to hear the stories about how the crazy balloon guys kept twisting balloons, while the heavens poured down.