Burning Man 2014 was harder to get to than usual. This is the story about Waiting Man – the first time in history that Burning Man was closed. This speech was filmed at the Communicators Toastmaster Club. This is the transcript of the speech. It takes about nine minutes to watch.
Toastmaster Speech – Storytelling Manual – Project 2 – Let’s Get Personal.
The speech was titled “Going to Waiting Man”
I don’t know what kind of vacations you take every year or if you go to the same place every year. But for the last six years my major annual vacation has not really been a vacation at all. It’s been going into a fantasy world. How would you like to go to a world filled with giant golden dragons roaming through the streets or giant octopuses with their tentacles up in the air spewing fire everywhere or a giant man perched on a flying saucer, an immense flying saucer. That is how Burning Man is every year but every year Burning Man is different. It’s a big festival. About 70,000 people go to it every year in the Nevada desert; Black Rock Desert and every year they create a city that only exists for one week of the year.
So Mister Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters, and Honoured Guests, the speech I have for you today is about not going to Burning Man but last year (2014) it was going to Waiting Man. It was completely different from any of the other five years.
And we thought we were well prepared. I bought my brother’s little RV. I drove it up from Louisiana with my son. So it was “Wow this year we’re not tenting. We’re going to be in an RV. It’s going to be so cool. There’s going to be three of us. We can sleep three.”
It was going to be myself, my son, and our buddy, Rowan, who’s a diving buddy. So the three of us were all set.
But life doesn’t always happen the way you think it’s going to happen. Sometimes things happen like your son going to university gets a girlfriend. And then it was four of us going in the RV with bedding for three. So, no problem. We figured we’ll figure it out somehow. So Rowan and I got the RV ready in Victoria and we thought well maybe before we drive down, maybe Rowan should have a chance driving.
So we go down my street. No problem. We get to the intersection. He signals to go left. He pulls out into the intersection. Stops dead!
I said to him “What did you do?”
He said “Nothing. I put my foot on the gas pedal and it died.” And that was the end of the RV going to Burning Man last year.
So we abandoned the RV in Victoria. It sat there for a month before it got fixed.
So then it was, we go back to my garage, and we look at this giant mound of stuff to take with us. And we go – “There’s no way that is going to fit into a Honda Accord with four people.”
It’s like “Don’t need this. Don’t need this. Don’t need that.”
Pruned it down. Got it into the car. Went to Vancouver. Got my son, and he said “You didn’t leave us much space.” But, we managed.
And so then we drove down to Reno. It’s about a twelve hour drive. Got to Reno. Got our supplies – got our supplies – by then there’s no more room for four people in the car because there’s like food and everything piled around us. (at 10 pm we were finally leaving Reno)
Drive from Reno to the Playa, which is the flat area where they’ve done speed trials for cars and such. And we think, my son says “This is great! Two and a half hours to get to Reno. This is great.” Fastest we’ve been in years.
There’s this demarcation pavement, and then you step and you’re onto the desert. And the desert is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and you’re not allowed to leave anything on it when you’re done. So if you have a piece of paper – you don’t have any loose paper, and you don’t drop anything on the ground. If something spills, you have to dig it up. Put it in a garbage bag, and take it home with you. There can’t be anything left.
So we got onto this Playa surface and we sat there for a few hours. Cause they had trouble with their tickets. People who had to go pick up their tickets (at Will Call) had to wait in line. A friend waited for eight hours in the line.
So we were there (in the car) waiting for them to process other people ahead of us. Hours passed, and you’d move up a little. More hours would pass, and you’d move up a little. And that was fine, except in the middle of the night. Boom! Crash! All of a sudden there was all of this lightning and thunder, and the rain came pelting down. The clouds were huge. And we were sitting in this car all cramped like this going “Oh, jeesh.” Cause usually you don’t get any weather when you’re there other than wind. And that passed and then it got a little drier in the middle of the night. We didn’t move after the first rain because we had to wait for the Playa to dry because if you moved it would leave tracks on the Playa which are not allowed. And then there was another thunderstorm. More rain so our chances of movement were even less. And then hail came, and there were little bits of hail hitting the windshield. I’d had a friend who’d been out there a couple of weeks earlier, and somebody’s window shield on their pickup truck actually got destroyed by hail two weeks before. So I’m watching, this hail hitting the window, worried.
But that too passed, and then the day came and then at six am, they did something never before done in the history of Burning Man. They closed Burning Man, and it became Waiting Man.
And the sun came out, and they told us we couldn’t move.
And the heat got oppressive.
People were stretched out looking for shade by their car, trying to get out of the sun.
But eventually, eighteen hours passed – which was more than the trip from Victoria to Vancouver to Reno to the Playa.
Eighteen hours sitting, waiting.
But then they came around, and they said “We’re going to let you in.”
And that was like a triumphant moment, and when we finally managed to get through the gates of the city, it was just so awesome, and so overwhelmingly great to finally be in the city. And that was the end of Waiting Man (not Burning Man).
And this year (2015) we’re not going because we hold a grudge against that eighteen hours!
(To see what we did instead of Burning Man 2015, check out Florida Lessons )