Having worked in the BRF office for almost 3 years, I’m used to the comfort of my office chair in a room where the air conditioning keeps us cool and the roof keeps us dry. An easy life, right? That’s what I learned this week, when I travelled to Munich for 2013s third instalment of the summer X-Games.
The first noticeable difference between my usual office job and this one was the 7 hour journey to the workplace. Usually I drive for 15 minutes door to door and I’m ready to go, but after a 2AM start, a few hours in a waiting room, a short flight and an hour long taxi, I finally found myself at the Olympic Park in Munich. I kept asking myself how the engineers do this from day to day… I’d been awake for 8 hours and that was just to make sure that I was at work on time!!
On paper the job was easily understandable; 3 venues, a couple of wireless radio cameras, a few receive locations and one big fibre infrastructure. That was on paper though; it’s not so easy when you’re there.
Venue A consisted of three individual receive locations; the Olympic Stadium, the Olympic Hall and the Ice Sports Centre. The three locations were all on different sides of the park, at least a good 5 minute walk away from the OB compound. Although five minutes walking doesn’t seem too much to ask, it’s becomes a lot harder when an unfit office boy has to wonder from venue to venue for tests throughout the day to make sure that everything is working as it should be.
Venue B was far enough away that people were using mopeds to get there, but of course the RF guys would take a walk. The temperature was pretty average, but there wasn’t an option of putting your coat down if you were getting hot when walking up stairs and over hills between Venues, because it was blisteringly cold at the top of the communications tower, with an overwhelming wind that occasionally almost knocked people off balance.
Venue C was approximately 10km away from the Olympic Park, next to the Allianz Arena, so if the team were at A or B and something needed sorting at C, you’re looking at a good 15 minutes in the van on the opposite side of the road with the most basic of maps before you even find yourself there. Although this may be something that the engineers may have grown used to, for a man who’s never taken a vehicle abroad, it was definitely a cause for concern.
After working three days I felt as though I’d been in Germany for about a week, and every evening when we made our way back to the hotel I was more than ready for bed. The engineers on the other hand, always have a get together to discuss the day’s work and how any changes can be made to make improvements the following day. I thought this would be a ten minute quick chat, but no, over an hour later we were still engaged in heavy conversation. How they were not absolutely exhausted I do not know?
When the engineers explained to me that I had only been on site for the rig days and that the TX were always longer, I was relieved to let them know that I my return flight was a matter of hours away.
I felt as though my job was done and that I was finished, and essentially I was, but of course I then had to endure the 1000km journey home, with a surprise delayed flight just to brighten up my day, and some beautiful road works on the M25. After waking up at 6.30AM to be on site by 8AM, I was finally home and in bed at 1.30AM, the next day. 19 hours in a day? That’s more than what I work in two days at home! But an everyday occurrence for those guys downstairs…
Finally I can appreciate the lack of sleep, excessive working hours, uncomfortable hotel rooms and overnight travel that the engineers deal with. Hats off to them, I definitely plan to stick to the office work!