02 June, 2007

Somebody’s Gotta Do It

More about the weekend in Osijek...

Around 8:00am Sunny’s phone rang and we were told that the bus was leaving at 10:00 instead of 9:00 so everyone had a little more time to get ready and eat breakfast. It had been a late night, so this was good news. Everyone else had apparently been notified, so we felt content and relaxed while getting ready for the day, and headed down to the lobby for a quick breakfast around 9:30.

We greeted a few of our compadres, scoped out a table to sit at, and headed over to the self-serve coffee station – clearly a high priority. Sunny had the carafe of coffee poised in mid-air above her cup when she was interrupted by one of our less-than-favorite people, who demanded that she go outside to the bus immediately to deal with a situation that had arisen. Later, when asked how she felt at that moment, she confessed that her entire being had been filled with rage. That can’t be good for the lifespan. [This might sound like an overreaction, but, trust me, if I could really go into detail about some of these events I am confident you would empathize with our frustrations.] Even so, she proceeded calmly to the tour bus and dealt with the issue, which basically amounted to some miscommunication about timing and schedules. Due to her masterful diplomatic work, by the time I got out there everything seemed calm so we went back in and ate a quick breakfast. In the short 30 or 40 minutes between leaving our room and boarding the bus, there had been a number of small interactions that led us to believe it might be a pretty stressful day, so the half-hour ride to the festival site was a perfect time for some reflection, prayer, and personal preparation.

It was weird to be thrown into such an odd set of circumstances, dealing with so many emotions and sensations and issues and powerfully asserted egos all at once. Everything seemed to be colliding, and while I looked out the window, the setting of all of this chaos started to become clear. We were staying in Vukovar. It is considered the most war-devastated place in Europe since WWII, and evidence of the damage from the war in the ‘90s is still visible all over the town. Among wrecked and bullet-riddled homes and buildings there were old men on bikes, and children playing, and women working in gardens.

As we drove the distance to Osijek through fields of grass and golden grain, the landscape was punctuated by beautiful bunches of bright red poppies. There were also signs every hundred yards or so sternly warning everyone to stay out (because there are still land-mines in the fields), illustrated with skulls and crossbones. Seeing these things, and thinking about what they meant – especially for the people who lived through it all – lent an element of gravity to my general state of mind, and by the time we arrived I felt sobered and somewhat softened.

We received our ‘Organizator’ identification badges and got the lay of the land. The venue was actually a Franciscan monastery, with a big tent and stage set up in a large field. While everyone went through their sound checks we spent most of our time in a dining/waiting/hangout room that served as the green room. We were doing such an awesome job fetching coffee and delivering messages and such that some people – understandably – wanted to take pictures with us. Or maybe it was because Sunny looks like a “Hollywood movie actress.” [This is an actual quote, admittedly taken slightly out of context…]

As the sound checks wrapped up, one of the performers informed us that he needed a razor. We found out where a few drugstores were, and another guy we know from church offered to drive him. Unfortunately most of the stores were closed by that time, but the driver didn’t know exactly what the passenger needed and the dramatic demeanor and mannerisms that characterized his quest led the driver to take him directly to a hospital, believing that he truly needed urgent care! Eventually they made their way back to the waiting bus, sans razor, and we headed to the hotel for some food and a few hours of rest before returning to the festival that evening.

Dinnertime brought a new round of challenges as some of the food was deemed unacceptable, with replacement dishes suffering the same fate. Sunny and I got to enjoy some downtime toward the end, and had fun watching people play PlayStation2 soccer.

Soon it was time to get back on the bus. We were already tired, our patience was wearing thin, and the evening had yet to begin. Fortunately we were armed with angry music guaranteed to get us pumped up. I started off with some long-forgotten Fiona Apple, and Sunny trumped that with what became our theme song for the weekend- The Roots’ Somebody’s Gotta Do It. Here’s an excerpt:

Somebody's gotta be there when it gets ugly
Somebody's gotta be there when it gets bloody
Somebody's gotta get their hands dirty
Yo, it's a ------ up job but somebody's gotta do it
Somebody's gotta come up with a plan
And be there when the ---- hits the fan
I hope ya'll out there understand
Look man it's a ------ up job, but somebody's gotta do it

1 comment:

Tim & Sara said...

What is up with these people?