During the past week, this author has served in various capacities
for a local arts and music festival, including stage tech, security
and usher. One thing is obvious: The general public is moving around
the city in a daze. Little distractions such as traffic lights,
pedestrians, other cars and boldly printed warning signs do little
to break this magic spell.
Story number one- I am backing a large cargo van into the street,
with a loud alarm that beeps in reverse gear and my headlights on.
Of course, just as I clear the loading dock and begin to ease into
the street, seven cars appear out of thin air bearing down on me
at raceway speed! To add insult to injury, at least two of the drivers
sound their horns angrily as if I had some creative way to avoid
the roadway and fly over the building. But wait- there’s more!
People who walk along the adjacent sidewalk are coming directly
into the path of my truck without blinking an eye- are they blind?
Would a ten second interruption to their busy day while I complete
the turn ruin their lives? I guess so, because if looks could kill
I’d be in trouble.
Story number two- another location, another event and I’ve
been assigned to stand at a wooden barricade to screen the vehicles
and only admit festival participants with vendor passes. There is
a large sign stating “Road Closed. Official Vehicles Only.
Detour.” The local newspaper and TV stations both reported
that the roadway would be blocked off for the weekend, and alternate
routes were suggested. What happens? Taxicabs, delivery trucks and
even tourists pull up to the barrier and ask, “Why can’t
I drive through here?” There are a few people who advise me
that if they can’t turn right at this intersection their entire
day will be ruined. One person tells me “You’re interfering
with the Lord’s work” because I won’t allow him
to pull into a nearby church parking lot. And the most amusing part?
Drivers who slow down, look at the festival and the crowds in the
street, and then put their directional signal to prompt me to open
Story number three- The show goes up on time, the audience exits
after enthusiastic applause, and the stage crew begins to lock down
for the night. A man who appears to have just woken up from a Rip
Van Winkle nap on a nearby park bench staggers up and asks, “What
time does the play start?” When politely told that he missed
the curtain by two hours, he replies, “I’ve paid for
a ticket. What do you mean it started at eight? I want my money
back.” OK, sir, you can discuss it with the box office staff
tomorrow. They already went home. I hope he realized the ticket
stub says no refunds! Before the building is secured, two more people
pull on the lobby doors and ask what show is playing at the theater.
Unlike certain fast food restaurants, entertainment venues are not
open all night.
Story number four-“No food or drinks in the auditorium.”
It sounds simple, but it isn’t. I counted seven cups of coffee,
four cans of soda, one deli sandwich, two ice cream cones, one container
of fried chicken and even a bottle of champagne! Along with “No
pagers or cell phones” the rule is for the audience’s
benefit. Who hasn’t gone to a movie theater where there is
sticky gum, slippery buttered popcorn and crunchy candy wrappers?
While on the subject of cell phones, we had a gentleman who politely
came out to the lobby when his phone rang, but then carried on a
loud and very personal conversation that anyone in the last ten
rows of seats could hear. Oh yes, the last piece of this night was
the balcony griper- she was allowed to sit in the mezzanine, even
though the management generally reserved those seats for festival
staff and students. She tested a dozen seats from the first row
to the middle aisle, and finally remarked, “It’s too
lonely up there.” To quote Charlie Brown “I can’t
I’m sure we all have similar tales of woe and human interest
while we work in the wonderful world of live entertainment, or we
try to drive the company van in city traffic. As stated in the first
paragraph, the real world is traveling in a thick fog. They don’t
read their tickets, the road signs, the lobby posters or the newspaper.
They drive and walk without looking right or left, since they believe
in the protection of some invisible plastic bubble that was last
seen in the Green Lantern comic books. No wonder stage management,
security and front-of-house staff head for the nearest alcohol or
natural fruit drink tavern- the rest of the world is crazy!
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