Many years ago, my first career path was photography. I specialized in corporate media, including annual reports, public relations, event coverage, portraits, families (including a few dogs – the 4 legged kind) and I photographed quite a few weddings. Photographing a wedding is unique when compared to most of these other types of photography. But, weddings generally include long hours, with 4 hours being short, and 5 to 8 hours being more common. And, most include a reception, often entailing a formal meal. I learned something the hard way at one wedding which had a formal, plated, dinner for all of the guests. I did not make a specific request in advance to have a meal included and the family planning the wedding never considered that on an 8 hour, very physical job, where I couldn’t run out to get fast food, that I might need to eat too. They failed to include me in the head count. After lugging lots of equipment, sweating through a change of clothes and taking hundreds of photos, I was not only tired, but hungry, when dinner was served to everyone except me. Fortunately, the caterer had some extra food and was able to put something together for me on short notice – that got me through the rest of the night. Lesson learned – I started specifying “food” in my wedding contracts. Food is so basic; I was shocked that it had not been considered (for me, the DJ, or for anyone else working the event). In Magnus’ work conducting mock trials, the fundamentals of event planning are an important part of our job when preparing for a research project. It is simply inconsiderate not to serve food, beverages, and snacks to our research participants, and clients. This is true even though we have had some clients who have objected to paying for these items. In our opinion, the show can’t go on without these basic requirements being considered. In fact, we go to great lengths to ensure no one is left hungry, leading them to focus on their hunger, instead of the job at hand, deliberating on a case. This means, for example, providing vegetarian options and a variety of beverages to try to accommodate as many diets as possible. Not feeding the hired help is never an option for Magnus.
Let’s face it. Some people are thoughtless. Withholding food from someone is rude, slightly mean, and for some people, can be dangerous. Many of my friends are professional musicians who, like David when he worked as a professional photographer, often work while others are having fun. I have heard countless stories from my musician friends about playing at weddings, corporate events, and other lengthy gigs without being provided food. Given that it is usually frowned upon to “brown bag it” in many hotels and event centers, these hard working professionals often have to go without food for extended periods. On every occasion when David and I go to hear my friends play at a local club or elsewhere, I always, without fail, offer to buy them food and drinks, to be ready during their break, as a result of my awareness that they, like those of us who came out to hear them, are hungry and thirsty. When David and I host parties in our home, we always tell the people who are helping us, such as the caterer, bartender, and the band, to eat and drink whatever they want. And, most assuredly, when I am in charge of any focus group, mock trial, or other research project involving mock jurors, arbitrators, or mediators, I ensure everyone in attendance receives nourishment. In addition, all of my staff members are encouraged by me to take breaks, eat lunch, and stay hydrated, regardless of where we are working or what we are doing. On the rare occasion when a client of Magnus has complained about having to pay for my staff’s and the mock jurors’ food, I inform them that mistreating people by depriving them of food is not something I will ever do. Everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and respect, and that includes being allowed to eat when hungry and drink when thirsty.