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The Difference Between Replaceable And Invaluable

Learning to take care of someone else's business is a great way to end up with your own

During my time with the last AV crew, I watched people come and go. Most who stayed for any length of time fit into one of a few categories:

—People who worked cheap.

—People who the owner felt obligated to keep.

—People who were absolutely invaluable.

That’s pretty much it.

We had our roadies. They set up shows, broke them down, hauled gear, loaded and unloaded trucks, cleaned the shop and other random jobs that involved a lot of sweat. The roadies were mostly good guys. Hard workers who did their job. But easily replaced.

Most of them were guys who had minimal technical knowledge and people skills. They were the guys we kept away from the clients and audience as much as possible. Like Igor and Dr. Frankenstein. Igor probably knew his way around the lab as well as the doctor did, but would never get to run the show. Igor was the grunt. He kept the doctor from getting his hands dirty.

Now, I’m not bashing these people. There were some really good folks who worked their butts off to make things happen. But, there were a lot who were determined to be useless.

Some had been around so long, the owner just tolerated whatever stupidity they produced each day. Wrecking trucks, losing gear, delivering the rig to the wrong venue, falling asleep in the truck 200 miles away while we waited to set up a show, pulling away from a dock without strapping gear down or closing the rear doors. Yeah. We saw a lot of that.

Those guys made less in a week of hard days than most techs made in a day. Seriously. But they kept showing up even though a job at Burger King would have paid more each week. Why?

The job gave them the flexibility to maintain their lifestyle. Staying out drinking all night, showing up looking like a dead cat, smelling like old liquor, talking trash and arguing with everyone would get you fired from most jobs. Not these guys—it seemed to improve their resume.

They were either family, old friends or just guys who worked so cheap it was worth tolerating. Some of them had potential to make good money as techs. A few actually worked their way up and became techs. But some are still doing the exact same thing as they were years ago.

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