Author: Judd, Brooks

Grass Valley 2009

(Editor’s Note—Brooks' column is running a little late; he’s already back from Louisiana and now off to the Pacific North West, all in the name of Fatherhood. Drive safe, pal.)

Friends, this column will be a short one. I am flying out to Lafayette, Louisiana Tuesday to help my daughter, Rhiannon, her husband, Mark, my 5 month old grandson William, and their dog and cat, move to Pasco, Washington. We will drive two vehicles from Lafayette to Turlock, (home of b.judd) a quick gas up and rest and then on up to the great state of Washington, the place that brews my all time favorite brew, Rainer Ale.

I signed up to be a volunteer at this year’s festival after the gentle prodding (cattle prod) by the Chairman of the CBA Board. He asked me what I would be comfortable doing and I told him that since I wasn’t really comfortable around people maybe sleeping on the stage at night would be a good fit for me. All was set, but then I received a phone call from one of the volunteer leaders asking me if it would be okay if I were switched to the less stressful position of manning the “Hospitality” tent behind the stage that furnished all the food and beverages for the acts. All I had to do was smile, be friendly, be able to make small talk and not sneeze on the food. I knew I could do the last one. I agreed.

It looked like it would be a busy and stressful week. I had agreed to meet the chairman early Thursday morning at 8:00 a.m. for breakfast, and then he would take me around to get my official volunteer badge, backstage pass and nametag. After I paid the $50.00 deposit (refundable if I did NOT sneeze on the food) I placed all the appropriate tags around my neck, took a deep breath, and realized it was now official.

My shift would be from 1 p.m. - 6p.m. Thur.-Fri.-Sat. I had to leave at 6:00 a.m. Sunday morning for Turlock to celebrate Father’s Day with my lovely wife Sheila, daughter Jessica, son-in-law Peter and 3 year old grand son, Sebastian Paul. Then a one day to get ready day on Monday and off to the airport Tuesday for my flight to Lafayette.

I showed up at the tent at about 12:45 on Thursday and realized that Jennifer Kitchen was the human dynamo responsible for the array of fruits, vegetables, meats, grains, soft drinks, home-made iced tea, etc. that was spread out deliciously and invitingly on tables like a scene from one of those Italian Hercules movies. There were another four tables that had bowls of organic chips and salsa set on them.

I walked up to Jennifer and began chatting with her. She said a member of her group Kitchen Help, Alex Meyers, would be my co-worker. Soon Alex showed up and we introduced ourselves and the fun began. I was to find out that Alex was part of the workforce of a new company created about 16 years ago that created and developed the DaVinci medical robotic arm that revolutionized surgical medicine.

For three days Alex and I worked together (well Jennifer actually DID all the work). We just made sure everyone got what they needed. We kept the tables clean, made sure the meat and cheese trays were full, saw that the fruit bowls were kept brimming with fresh strawberries and watermelon. Whenever I would close my eyes for a few seconds between doling out soft drinks and olives Alex would take this opportunity to quickly grab a plastic knife and fork and do a “robotic” procedure on either my arm, neck, ear, or whatever was available for him to work on. I soon realized if I closed my eyes it would have to be when Alex wasn’t around. This was all ok because I soon found out that Alex boasted of making the greatest Margarita this side of the Mason-Dixon Line and after he was kind enough to pour one of these nectars from heaven I quickly agreed again, again and again. Also, it ain’t boasting if you can do it. Well I’m making a motion to have Alex open up his own booth next year.

Bottom line. I met many people who I have never seen but communicated through the web site. That was fun. I had a chance to see how hard and time consuming it is for the volunteer heads to put their respective departments together and running. Jennifer, God bless her, didn’t stop moving. Alex and I had a 5 hour shift. Jennifer was at the tent from 6:30 a.m. until closing. I know I had fun. I actually did have fun smiling, making small talk and meeting all the names I had been writing to. Being with Alex made it that much more fun and working with Jennifer taught me a little about commitment.

I was also able to get my $50.00 back because I didn’t even come close to a sneeze on the food. How about that?
Posted:  6/29/2009

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