Archive for August, 2010

Tales From A DJ: Worst Job Ever

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

I’ve neglected Tales From A DJ for some time, but this past Saturday demanded documentation. I thought I had a rough job. The bride who had refused to talk to me on the phone earlier in the week quickly took command of the dance, with instructions not to play any “stupid shit”. In other words, my entire show designed to make sure everyone has fun and gets involved. Screw you old people! I agreed and played it like a high school prom. Midnight couldn’t come fast enough, but of course this was a “One more song!” group including the bride and groom who strongly insisted I play longer. Dejected I agreed and went another fifteen minutes. The groom said I did great and cut a check devoid of any tip. A drunk groomsman did at least give me six bucks.

As I started my three hour drive home I got a call from Ryan. He was finishing up a long drive as well, having also played in the far northwestern reaches of the state. His story put things in perspective. Comparatively speaking I had a great night. He had THE WORST JOB EVER.

Usually when Ryan says this it just means things sucked. It would take a lot to actually top some of the things he’s dealt with. He’s been verbally and physically assaulted, become violently ill, had the cops and firemen called on him several times, been threatened by a bride’s mom on lithium who smashed a folding chair into the wall, and on two occasions had someone die. One of the deceased was the groom’s grandpa, which put a bit of a damper on the party. After hearing his story though, I had to agree he very well may have had his worst job ever.

Upon arriving he found himself faced with a long narrow driveway, lined on both sides with hundreds of votive candles. There was no room to turn around at the end, so he had to back his ginormous trailer in. You wouldn’t think of votives as a road hazard, but it’s amazing how much damage small pieces of glass can do. Unable to avoid crunching the candles, Ryan popped a tire on his truck. Another tire took the shrapnel slightly better with only a slow leak.

The time he would have spent setting up equipment and getting dressed instead was used to install a spare tire. With seconds left on the clock, he grabbed his speakers and started running. Unfortunately he failed to see the puddle hidden in the grass. He slipped and fell in the mud, with the full ninety pound weight of the speaker crushing his chest. Somehow he still managed to start the ceremony on time, but got several looks from the guests. Where there should have been a neatly groomed DJ there instead stood an auto mechanic covered from head to toe in grease and dirt.

Afterwards Ryan had some time to clean up. The ceremony was at the house of the bride’s wealthy family, but he didn’t feel comfortable asking to use their shower. Instead he opted for a bathing suit. The guests stared unbelieving as this madman scrubbed himself off in the beautiful waters of Lake Charlevoix.

When you ask your DJ to work an eleven hour day, it’s considered a courtesy to feed him. However the caterer told Ryan no accommodations had been made. It was a plated dinner for exactly the number of guests and no food could be spared. A stolen sugar cookie from the children’s table was his only sustenance for the entire job.

One of the first lessons every DJ including myself learns the hard way is “Never let a kid touch the microphone.” Frazzled and malnourished, Ryan forgot this very important rule. Sure enough the precious little flower girl took his thousand dollar piece of equipment and dunked it in water. It is slightly less functional now.

Starving, battered and beaten, Ryan finally made it to the end of the night. At which time of course everyone started chanting “ONE MORE SONG!” This one last song lead to another and another. When it was all said and done, he had played an additional forty minutes in hell. This is an eternity in DJ time. After the job was over, they cut him a check for the exact amount, devoid of any tip.

I shook my head and thanked him for the story. In retrospect, I had THE BEST JOB EVER!