“So these towels here are sanitary and you can use them….ah…for the toilet. Ja?”
“And you can use these giant bags to refill the garbage cans when they are full, which they will be very full. Ja. I suggest using the duct tape to put them in as they will be heavy, very heavy. Ja?”
First there was Woodstock. Then there was Carnival. And then there was Family Festival Sundays.
But let me backtrack – so that you understand how I found work at European Festivals and how I became knee deep in shit. Literally.
My delightful CouchSurfing hosts had the inside scoop. They knew the guy behind the guy behind the guy behind the guy behind the guy (Hey it’s Europe, there are lot of guy’s behind guys when the government employs everyone – see socialism) who staffs all of the Rotterdam festivals. Apparently, Rotterdam Holland is home to more festivals than any other city in Europe in the summer, and I was at the front of the festival tidal wave that was approaching.
“Yeah it is so much fun. You just go to the venue, get a free t-shirt, they take care of all the staff’s meals and you get to participate in whatever the festival is doing. It is super easy and a great way to meet people.”
“Interesting. So what kind of festivals are they?”
“Well they can be anything – from art to architecture to techno dance…anything really.”
“Wow. Sounds cool. Where do I sign up?”
“Well, normally you have to be able to speak Dutch to help out, but we know the guy so maybe we can squeeze you in. There is one on Sunday.”
I took the bait. I can’t resist the novel. Turkish bath houses, nude modeling, helping the blind finger-paint…I will try anything once. At least that is what I used to think.
Sunday arrived quickly. I didn’t think to inquire more about my job or what type of festival it was. I was just feeling proud to be the exception. The lone American they let in the back door. I can’t help it. I watched too much Sesame Street and had too many blue ribbons handed to me (for last place) to not have a deep yearning to feel special – always. It wasn’t until 4am Sunday morning at the club that I finally figured it out that I wasn’t as special as I my mother led me to believe.
Me: “So you should check out this festival tomorrow in the park. It is supposed to be a banging party.”
Hot Dutch girl: “Festival? I haven’t heard of any festival? Where is it?”
Me: “You haven’t heard of it? Really? [douchebag smirk] Well it is….ah…ah – in the park.”
Hot Dutch girl: “Well there are many parks in Rotterdam.”
Me: “Oh, let me ask my friend…Anna…ANNA!!! [Boom, Boom, Boom, some crappy Euro electron music, Boom, Boom, Boom]. Anna, tell this girl what this festival is about and where it is at.”
Anna: “Agggghhha hoock hock chook hocccck hoooukkkh ag” [speaks in Dutch]
Hot Dutch girl: [puzzled look] “Me hogggac hock hock?”
Hot Dutch girl: [Big Smile]
Me: “WHAT? What did she say?”
Hot Dutch girl: “She said it is a family festival.”
Me: “A WHAT?” [Boom, Boom, Boom, we have no musical talent – hit itunes genius, Boom, Boom]
Hot Dutch girl: “She said it is a children’s festival.”
Me: “HUH? I am sorry I can’t hear you. This “music” is too loud. What did she say?”
Hot Dutch girl: “It is A FESTIVAL FOR CHILDREN.”[Pause]
Me: “Yah. It should be banging.”
I should have seen it coming. I didn’t even bother to ask. It wasn’t like a German telling a Jew not worry it is just a free State sponsored holiday. No – rather, I was blinded by novelty seeking and gainful employment for a change. But hey – let’s put this into perspective and maybe see a glass half full
of scotch for a change? I got to meet new interesting people from an exotic strange land where everyone sounds like they are about to hock a loogie. I got to hear the latest hits from Ag a Me Hocckkca Hocccks (Earnie and the tenors) live, and enjoyed an afternoon of sunshine and the smell of fresh lemon-pine tree scented disinfectant.
At least when I interview for my next job I will get to tell them not to worry – I am a trained toilet cleaning professional – I got you covered.
And if you are going to be in Holland for a festival or looking for work you might want to find some cheap apartments in Amsterdam, otherwise, you may end up as a toilette attendent and sleeping on the street – both of which will leave you girlfriendless like me.