It’s 6.20 in the morning. I’m walking into a huge marquee style tent filled with long banquet style tables covered with paper tablecloths. Worn fold out chairs that look like they’d flatten like Ikea furniture if anyone weighing over 40kg sat on them. I’m dressed head to toe in black despite the day’s 32 degree weather forecast and my white Adidas trainers are like a beacon advertising in a room full of chunky black lace up work boots. The smell of bacon is turning my stomach, and DJ Khaled Wild Thoughts is blasting out of a speaker somewhere out of view.
Despite the green grass and smiling girl who served me my breakfast on a paper plate, something about this morning’s wake up call felt bizarrely like a scene out of the film, Holes. This comparison was only further confirmed when I queued for a small window in the side of a truck, was asked to identify myself by the number on my hi-vis vest and then window man barked a number at me without any more explanation. The number turned out to be the minibus I was to be getting on.
By the time 8am rolled around, my minibus team had been divided between searching caravans and doing foot patrols round what was currently a baking hot empty field, but would soon be a rammed campsite filled to the brim with camper vans and tipsy festival goers holding plastic champagne flutes of flat drinks. I was paired up with a man we’ll name Jeremy, a 41 year old SIA with two kids and a woman he referred to as his ‘fuck buddy’. This poor girl I quickly gathered was half his age and German. He claimed to speak a bit of German, but from what I could tell this mainly consisted of saying crude things in a poor attempt at a German accent.
By midday he’d made numerous comments about my body that only made it difficult to control the eye rolls they triggered, and the overwhelming desire to kick him in both shins and make a break for the trees.
He shamelessly checked me out in a way that made me feel physically violated, and at one point alluded to ‘bending me over’, which sent me running for the ‘staff room’ (corrugated metal box) and the safety of pretending I was reapplying sun cream.
On our foot patrols we came across a girl stewarding for a different company, who’s uniform rules were clearly far more lax than our own, as she’d taken her top off under her hi vis vest and was wearing only her bra. My fear for her welfare when up against my drooling ogre-like patrol ‘partner’ was in overdrive but this girl was evidently too stoned to care.
After hearing him drone on stumbling over comment after sexist comment for 6 hours in intense burning heat, I began daydreaming about tying him up and leaving him to bake to death in a stingy nettle infested bush that lined the perimeter of both fields. I quickly resounded that even this sounded like something that he’d probably enjoy far too much. I’m not normally one to keep quiet when I feel somebody is being disgustingly sexist and rude, but in an environment where I have another inescapable 6 hours to spend with them, I decided it was better to keep my mouth shut.
The highlight of this sweaty torture came during a shaded break back at the staff room, when our boredom had cornered us into the guessing game of trying to pinpoint how old our colleagues were.
“21?? Shit. I’m old enough to be your dad.”
Yes, ‘mate’, you have been perving since the sun rose on someone only 4 years older than your daughter, you sadistic knob. Thinking that this flooring reminder that he was a father and should be treating me with a bit more respect, I stalked back off into the distance, naively comfortable in the potential that I was in for a more peaceful final few hours.
I’m not sure if someone picked up on my distaste for my patrolling partner or if I just got really lucky, but the following day my allocated job couldn’t have been further away from patrolling Caravan West.