Sunday, January 31, 2010

Adventures in Ushering

I may have mentioned: I love ushering. I dread it in anticipation and adore it in actual experience. One thing about ushering is that you never know where you'll be assigned, so you have to be prepared for all eventualities: warm clothes for the cold, cool clothes for the heat, and a book just in case you wind up in a quiet corner somewhere where you do nothing and see no one. As I drove to work, it occurred to me that I was woefully under-dressed for the possibility of being stuck outside in the low- to mid-30's, so I repeated a little mantra: please not outside today; put me in the arena. Please not outside today; put me in the arena.

So I was lead supervisor in the arena.

I gotta tell ya, I don't think I've worked this hard as Arena Seating Supervisor since, well, ever. And it was a women's basketball game, which is odd, because they typically have lower attendance and a higher percentage of older season ticket holders who've been coming to the arena for 100 years or so and know the building better than I do, and who know just exactly how to behave in a public venue-type setting.

But today, the visiting team traveled well, with a large contingent of fans, plus there were lots of group incentives, including free tickets for middle school kids who participated in a reading program. So the building was surprisingly well-packed.

So the gist is, I was running all over the place, reseating patrons, finding answers to unusual questions, helping people track down their parties and the guy who had their tickets, making excited kids stop sitting on the stairs and standing on their seats, and, well, I was running all over the place and calling on the radio and running all over the place some more. There was even a group of tiny uniformed cheerleaders, on this day of group sales and group promotions, who were hoisting one of their tiny uniformed cheerleader mates over their heads while she stood on one leg with arms upraised. Right in their seats, lifting that tiny cheerleader right up over everyone's head. That didn't seem safe to me. So I made them stop with the hoisting. Anyway, lots of up and down stairs. Lots of running around.

So at the end, I was kind of tired. We were almost done. Nearly all the patrons had left the building, but I noticed a couple of boys, probably 13 and 14, wandering around, looking for someone. They tried to re-enter the seating area, and another usher supervisor told them it was closed. They mentioned that they were looking for their dad. She told them the arena was empty, and he wasn't in there. They wandered away. A couple of minutes later, another supervisor saw them and pointed them to the nearest exit in a "you can exit here; thanks for coming" sort of way, not a "hurry up and get the hell out" kind of way. It didn't look like they'd found their dad yet, so I followed them out, chased them down, and asked them if they needed help.

"Yeah," one of them said. "Thanks. We kind of got thrown out." So I took them back in, let them use my cell phone to try to call their dad who wasn't answering, went to the most likely entrance where he might be waiting for them, and eventually reconnected them with the missing parental unit, who didn't look happy.

"Good night, guys," I said as they went out the door.

"Yeah," one said. "Thanks for the help," said the other.

I'm not sure I would have intervened if I hadn't seen this story on the news. I thought about the girl that got locked out of the arena without a ticket to get back in, who was never to be heard from again. I saw those boys, and thought of that girl. I thought, I can't wonder if they disappeared into the Austin night. I can't end up seeing a story about two kids who vanished from my arena. I had to go out and see if they needed help. But I might not have done it if I hadn't seen that story.

Oh, and my hat! I almost forgot to tell you about my hat. Thumper comes with me every month to sign up for shifts, so the other ushers know him and appreciate his singing and dancing skills. Another usher today gave me a hat to give to him. It's essentially an upside-down basketball net that you wear on your head, like one of these here, only with officially licensed team colors and logo. She told me I had to get a picture of him wearing it, so if I succeed in fulfilling that mission, I'll share here, too. Anyway, I wore that hat while I worked tonight, and I have never been more popular. Patrons yelled, "I love your hat!" at me as I walked by. They asked me where I got it. It was a conversation starter and a tension-breaker that just made the entire night more pleasant.

So there you go. Lives were saved; smiles were placed on the faces of children and adults alike. We did good work here, people.


Purelight said...

I have a great picture in my head of you racing about your arena doing good deeds while wearing your wonderful (perhaps magic?) hat. Great writing to start my day--thanks!

tricia said...

From a mother.......Thank You!

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