Danny Wallace explores the strange world of a job that no one wants to do
How do these people get through it?
I have spent the past few minutes being harassed by professional ‘vibe’ artists.
These are people booked for corporate events, where the organisers are worried their guests won’t be having enough fun.
So they pay people in wigs to turn up in a minibus. Once those people are out, they start throwing streamers and going “woo!”.
Like this one.
“You are LEGENDS!” shouts the main vibe artist, and a few people smile awkwardly but with some degree of appreciation. “Let’s get this GOING!”
I forgot to mention: we’re all standing in a car park.
Later on, we’ll all be at a hotel, and I think it would make sense to save the vibes until then, because right now the vibe that had been working perfectly well was the “we’re all standing in a car park” vibe. But the vibe artist and his gang have been told that the vibees need vibes now, so he turns on some loud music and starts shouting about how we’re legends again. While he does this, some of his vibe-minions sashay around, saying “yeah!” and “come on!”. They’re all wearing things you can buy from a costume shop, like big necklaces or top hats. But I’m not. I’m in jeans just watching and holding a coffee.
I forgot to mention: it’s quarter past eight in the morning.
“Right!” shouts the main one. “Let’s all do model poses!”
I see a few people joining in.
Or at least I think I do. Either those are model poses or this is a piles workshop. Still, their resistance to vibes is worryingly low. Mine is set to high. I manage my own vibes, and I rarely attempt to enforce them on others.
As I watch the main guy strut around, I consider how awful I would be at this job. It would be a terrible twist of fate if somehow one morning I found myself with no option whatsoever but to set myself up as Danny Wallace: Professional Vibe Artist. I imagine myself sadly ordering my own business cards, unsure whether to use the Sad Face emoji as my logo, or simply the shrouded skeletal sickle-carrying figure of death. Then I imagine the small-business loans man, blithely stamping my paperwork, not knowing or caring that stamp seals my fate, enabling me to buy a second-hand minibus.
What would I even do? My vibe artist instinct would be just to move from person to person quietly wondering how they were and if they’d travelled far, asking if they’d already had a cup of tea, telling them I hoped they would be having fun in the near future, and just trying not to make them angry.
Were fate so cruel as to have dealt me this hand, I imagine myself staying up all night before important events, desperately trying to come up with new and imaginative vibes that might best my vibe-rivals – Viking vibes! Oil rig vibes! You-just-got-a-new-dog-and-he’s-French vibes! – all the while knowing that no vibe I could possibly invent could ever be more effective than just loudly telling people they’re legends.
“LEGENDS!” shouts the man, strutting around like a peacock.
This is not my natural environment, an early morning car park set to house music, but I know that later on, when the corporate event begins properly and we get to the hotel, I’m going to try my best with these vibessionals. I’ll let their vibes wash over me, carry me, penetrate me. And those aren’t words I usually write about strangers in car parks.
Being a professional vibe artist is hard. You’re there not just to get the party going, but to keep it going. You have to arrive looking like the party started hours ago, and drag a party out of everyone else, and give the impression that even when everybody’s had enough of the party, you’re not only staying to the end but starting an after-party, too. These are all thoughts that occur to me in a car park with a coffee.
And then late that night we get to the hotel. It has been many hours since I have seen the professional vibe artists. I know from anecdotal evidence that they have been working hard all day. Calling people legends. Hopping from foot to foot. Swapping hats, saying “woo!”. It’s been a long day, but tonight is the party, and I too have found my vibe, right there at the bottom of a third pint of Stella.
And as I walk towards the hotel lift to find my room, I happen upon the vibe artists in their post-vibe postmortem. They look exhausted and depressed.
“You all did really well today,” says the main one, depleted now in T-shirt and jeans. “I know how hard that was.”
Some of them are hugging each other and saying “well done”.
Two get in the lift with me. They keep talking about how they can’t face the rest of the party and just want to go to bed.
So just before they get out, I decide to make their day. I say, “Legends!”
And they look like they want to kill me. And dare I say it, it totally ruined the vibe.
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