Buildaburger Conference – 20 September 2013 – Seize The Dates

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As I have said before, keeping well-nourished is a major challenge for event workers. The hours are often very long and there is not always an opportunity to find good food, unless you bring it with you.

As I write this, I am working as and AV technician at a charity dinner. Any professional will tell you, it is not a given that you will be fed, even at an event where there is surplus food, so it’s best to take precautions, pictured here.

Much as my own work schedule can be occasionally punishing, it hardly compares with those poor unfortunates who work for Merrill Lynch, the wealth management division of Bank of America.

I am sure you will have heard of the ignoble fate of 21-year-old intern Moritz Erhardt who, despite being “tipped for greatness” was found dead in his shower after reportedly working 72 hours straight for Merrill Lynch. According to the Guardian he was paid £45k pro rata, which is more than the average for an intern, but that is no compensation for missing the rest of your life. I could find no recorded cause of death so far, so who knows as we wait for the post-mortem.

Anyway, this sudden death throws up a few questions that have, to my knowledge, have not been asked in the mainstream media. Despite the undoubted tragedy for his friends and family, why did he find it necessary to work so hard? Well, it’s because he was in effect bribing his way into a highly rewarding job at some time in the not too distant future. I’m sure he was a fine individual, but despite the eulogies, he was attempting to fast-track his way into shitloads of money, some of it probably yours.

I wonder if some of these all-nighters, and the gung-ho culture widely reported in that sector, might explain the gigantic fuck-up of the global economy that our financial institutions and negligent governments have made. Perhaps they were all so whacked on Relentless that they were hallucinating and thought they were selling junk bonds to space monkeys.

Believe me, two Red Bulls and I’m anybody’s, even a banker. I am joking, of course, I never touch that rat’s piss, and I am broadly opposed to taking stimulants stronger than the odd latté with an extra shot.

However, it does make me wonder just what sort of stimulants even a young man needed in order to work three days without sleep. Those of you who have worked alongside me will know I can work hard and for long hours but at around the 14-16 hour mark I start to get a bit incoherent, and after 18 hours you would not want to be asking me for financial advice.

Anyway, what has this got to do with the Buildaburger Conference? Well, I worked at a cinema for four years, which also hosted a generous portion of corporate events too, and after the first two years of being run ragged I very often missed my lunch, and all this on a salary far more meagre than Moritz’s. Mind you, I never had to pull any all-nighters, but one day I promised myself I would not miss any more meals. From that moment on I never ran when working on events, even if in a divine rush, and always took a meal break.

Much as I am a fan of the classic meat patty smothered in various animal products, even I am keenly aware of my own mortality. The truth is that employers everywhere will let you work yourself to death, but only if you are willing.

To return to my current work commitment, despite being surrounded by people enjoying rich and excellent food, I have opted for healthy snacks of fresh fruit, dried fruit and nuts in order to moderately ameliorate the effects of stress, or at least not exacerbate the life-shortening effects of working long hours by attacking my own body with saturated animal fats.

So remember, crisps, chocolate and caffeine-laced energy drinks are not a recommended solution for a lack of energy brought on by working too long hours, the problem is the other way around. If you need to resort to artificial stimulants then what you are trying to achieve is not what your body was designed for. My advice is work hard, but not so hard that it brings on a seizure in the shower, unless you want to be pushing up the most expensive daisies in the cemetary.

Eschew the energy drinks that will chase you to your own corner of some domestic field in favour of more natural sources of energy and, before it’s too late, Seize The Dates.


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