Wow! I didn’t notice yesterday but it was my Fifth Bloggiversary here on WordPress! I guess I’m good at starting things on November 1st. Huh. I’m about to run out to an event. Hopefully it won’t run so late that I wind up needing to backdate today’s entry!
Okay. Phew! Just made it! It’s 10:30. Better get to work.
My last blog post before I disappeared into the desert was all about how much I loved my job as DPW Sign Shop Manager. Working with Black Rock City’s Department of Public Works has been the most gratifying job I’ve ever had. This was my tenth year — a decade in the dust — and will probably be my last. At least working a full season. I run the Sign Shop pre-event and for a few days post, de-installing what’s left of the signs, pulling up t-stakes, closing up shop, so to speak. Then the operation switches over to Playa Restoration, the final two weeks of Line Sweeps, when we walk every block of the city picking up bottle caps and cigarette butts. It has always been my favorite part of the process, a totally different vibe from the pre-event push and all the excitement you’d expect leading up to one of the world’s biggest parties. Er, sorry, art events! For the past five or six years (seven?), my job during “Resto” has been as Scribe, taking notes about what we find and coloring the MOOP Map. It was a great job, with lots of responsibility and a lot of work. But for my last year I wanted to bump things up a notch. I wanted to go out with a bang. So I emailed DA, the Manager of Playa Restoration, and let him know I wanted to be a Line Boss.
The Line Bosses — there are three — each run a crew of “line sweepers,” between 15 and 25 folks on the Resto team, motivating them and making sure the lines are (relatively) straight so no real estate goes uncovered. Or unMOOPed. I knew that it would be a challenge. I wouldn’t be able to be quite as hungover or grumpy as I could be as a Scribe. It’d have to be “on” the whole time. DA actually interviewed me for the job on-playa. He had already told me I was “under consideration” but before he made his decision we had a fairly formal conversation. He asked me why I wanted the job. I wanted it because I wanted something more. More responsibility than the Scribe position. Something more difficult. I wanted to stretch. So when he asked me how I would handle “people I didn’t like” I told him I was going to need to really work at it. And when he asked if I thought I was a good manager, I let him know that my sign crew had been virtually the same for years, with new people always wanting to join or make cameo appearances or bring in friends. They were a happy crew. I knew in my heart that I could do a good job as Line Boss. Well, he thought so to ’cause he gave me the job! I was so fucking excited! Seriously. And flattered. And honored.
When it came time to start, I’d bought a bunch of stuff to “drop” for my people to find. Things that I wrote messages on: “StAbby hearts me!” and “Super MOOPer!” I dreamed up little contests to make things more fun and interesting. I was READY! My friends — my former Line Boss and my Oscillator — had a bet that I’d melt down on my people before the morale break on Day 2. And ya know what? I never melted down on them. I made it through the whole two weeks without ever freaking out or getting pissed off at them! I praised them! I told them how awesome they were. How hard they were working and how great our line looked. By the last few days, with horrible weather and everyone getting sick with sore throats and colds — myself included — I managed to hold it together. Through all of it, the same people came back to work my line every day. Every day! They told me they loved me! That they were super happy not to be dodging dirt clods. To just chill and get the work done. It was so great. Really, really great. I came to like people I hadn’t and appreciate everyone for their contributions. I was able to take a step back and see the bigger picture and not obsess about what few pieces of MOOP they might’ve missed. I drew on parts of myself that I didn’t even know I had. And it was the cherry on the whipped cream on the frosting of working with the DPW. It was fucking great. SOOOOooooo fucking great!
So I want to thank DA, aka Dominic Tinio. He’s believed in me and my passion for the process from the very beginning. Thanks DA! Oh, and while I’m at it, I’d like to introduce you to him! Aside from managing Playa Restoration, DA attends other big events and advises them on how they, too can Leave No Trace. He’s also an artist and has created many of the Burning Man posters. He is a fan of storytelling and the way it brings people together, so he designed Black Rock City’s Fireside Circles to foster people gathering around a fire to share stories. He’s a pretty deep thinker, that DA.
And while I’m appreciating my managers, I’ll give another shout-out to my other manager, Tony “Coyote” Perez. Aside from keeping my ass in line for these past 10 years, he surveys Black Rock City, laying out all the streets and plazas, and serves as the Site Supervisor. It’s a pretty big job but he does it with humility and a sense of humor. When he’s not in the desert working with DPW he lives in San Francisco, where he sings and plays a mean sax in a band called Second Hand Smoke. He, too, is a fan of storytelling and in recent years has begun writing down his memories — of his mother, his early days with the DPW, of life on the road as a musician — with the goal of publishing a book. I’m happy to be one of his cheerleaders. And editors! Lastly (but certainly not lastly), he’s the dad to seven-year-old twins and a partner to my dear friend Mel. Love them all!
So there ya go. Not one but two of my incredibly talented friends who’ve also been my bosses. Bosses at the only job I haven’t gotten fired from! Bwahahaha! And man, I’d better hit “Publish” before today becomes tomorrow! I was busy attending a fab gala for Rosie’s Theater Kids. Thank you, Chi Chi! More on her later this month! Now I’m gonna go watch some Netflix!