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Nathan Hansen's column: There's no need to run away

I don’t remember ever wanting to run away and join the circus when I was younger. I lacked the coordination to be an acrobat and my more or less total lack of upper-body strength meant any attempt to work the trapeze would almost certainly ended in tragedy.

It certainly wasn’t long before I realized I would be too tall to ever fit in one of those clown cars. Those things look like they have zero headroom.

I never had any desire to be a roadie, either. Basically, if the job involved packing and unpacking the same gear every night in different cities, then I wanted no part of it.

I never saw the romance of living on the road. I don’t even like packing when I move.

Still, I’ll admit there is something fascinating about the process.

As president of the Rotary Club of Farmington, I had a chance last weekend to work backstage at a country music festival. Ramble Jam, the club’s annual fundraiser, took place at the Dakota County Fairgrounds. That meant my life from about noon Thursday through Sunday afternoon consisted of concert duties and sleep and very little else. I wrote Facebook posts, I sold raffle tickets and I hauled heavy equipment for many of the artists who showed up to play.

Think of it as roadie camp. It’s like any other camp, except with less canoeing and more throwing your back out trying to lift some other dude’s amplifier. 

There is very little wasted space in one of those tour trailers. Hard-sided cases full of equipment are packed in from wall to wall, from floor to ceiling. Boxes come out one by one and get hauled on stage, where they spill their contents for the night, only to get packed back up in reverse order and loaded back onto the trailer.

Everything has its place, and the people who handle the gear night in and night out know exactly what goes where. I imagine anyone who does that kind of thing for a living is really, really good at Tetris.

I’ll admit, there was something fun about hauling around heavy stuff for a few nights. In my working life I spend most of my time sitting at a desk. I type on a computer keyboard or talk on a phone. I sit with people in their living rooms or kitchen tables and take notes in a notebook. Aside from the time I let Farmington police Taser me during one of their training sessions (I swear it seemed like a good idea at the time) there’s not to tax a person physically.

I still don’t think professional roadieing is the right long-term career for me. I’m pretty sure roadieing isn’t even a real word. By the end of three days I was tired and sore and the back of my neck was sunburned a shade that was somehow pretty appropriate for someone who helped put on a country music festival.

It was all a lot of fun, but I’m happy to pack my roadie dreams away for another year.

Now, if only the circus would come to town. I’ve been working on my knife throwing.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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