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Water bottle memories

It’s funny how sometimes the smallest things can trigger memories.

I got my COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, and while I was sitting out the suggested 15 minutes after the shot, I happened to notice a water bottle sitting on the stage in the room at the Civic Centre.

With signs around the room asking people to raise their hands if they were feeling sick or needed help, my first thought was it was for someone like that.

Then I decided it was more likely the bottle of one of the people working at the clinic.

The memories it brought back, though, go back a long way and to a totally different venue.

It started when I was working at the newspaper in Kamloops and headed down to Merritt one summer weekend to cover the Merritt Mountain Music Festival. It was a country music festival, and I liked country music, so it was natural for me to set up a few interviews with the artists that we ran ahead of time, and then go down to get photos and do more ‘interviews’.

I put ‘interviews’ in quotes because the artists weren’t doing one-on-one interviews. They would come into a common area backstage about an hour before their show and face the full media. The numbers tended to grow during the day as the names going on stage got bigger.

After the interview tent, it was time to form up and get ready to head out into the photo pit for the start of each show. Most of the time, we were allowed to get photos during the first two songs, then we had to clear out so the audience wasn’t having its view blocked by our heads.

That was when I noticed water bottles usually tucked in behind the speaker stacks at the edge of the stage. At first I thought they were for the performers but then I realized they were actually some distance away from them.

Then I thought they might be for the security people working the area in front of the stage, but when I checked with one of the security people, I got the real story.

This is Merritt in the middle of summer. It gets hot. Some of the people in the crowd don’t come well-prepared for the heat.

If one of the security people noticed someone in the audience obviously in distress, they would grab one of the Nady water bottles and get it out to the person immediately.

After that, a lot of times they would bring the person backstage to a small medical tent where they could lie down for a few minutes. The good news as far as the audience member was concerned was the sound was almost as good backstage as in front, so they didn’t miss much of the show.

I started to remember some of the shows and some of the people I met in the interview tent, but my 15 minutes were up and I was back out into a grey Prince George morning, with my vaccination half-done.

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