Sunday of course was a very different thing, without Elijah to look forward to. But I got involved with the line for James Marsters (hereinafter referred to as 'JM'), and that naturally brought up comparisons to the Elijah line on Saturday.
I had started out on Friday with keeping the carpet in front of the guests' autographing clear of crowds. I used my loud, offensive, authoritative voice, developed a litany, answered questions, brought water to the guests, and got noticed. That worked well into what I had in mind which was to establish myself as 'useful'.
Saturday, as I have said before, I wasn't scheduled at all, and really didn't think my efforts were noticed at all by 'those who count,' especially asshole who was so worried about his own little kingdom that every detail had to be done his way.
It may be obvious, but I don't think about the other side of the fence until I have reason to, such as being there myself. The volunteers have to walk a fine line between doing their jobs and making the experience pleasant for the fans. Ideally, both of these goals should be fulfilled by the same actions, but frequently they are not. Or perhaps it's that what is good for one fan is not good for another.
For instance, in that autograph area, if everyone stayed off the red carpet who didn't belong there, then everyone could get their pictures, and the people in line who were paying for autographs would not be crowded and get to feel special. BUT the camera people kept darting forward blocking the way, irritating the paying customers. People accumulated behind them who were just waiting for them or for someone else, creating a crowd which could be scary to the guests and which blocked people from getting through. Because of this, people saw the relatively clear red carpet and just started strolling down it. I got to the point a couple of times of saying to them, "You're not priviledged. This area is clear because people are staying off it." Which was probably rude, but I was so tired of it. Although one of our instructions as volunteers was 'be polite, don't get frustrated, have a good time.' I'm afraid I couldn't help being frustrated sometimes. And it Really irritates me to realize that I could very well have been one of those people who thoughtlessly walked down the carpet because it was the easier, faster way to go.
But overall, was my insistance any worse than the volunteers who stood around afraid to do anything, take any authority, for fear it was the wrong thing? Most of them stood around in clumps, oblivious to what really needed to be done.
Which explains Joel. Joel is quite young - early twenties, probably, but has worked this con for years. He was the person actually in charge of what the volunteers did. He really irritated me at first because he would ask me to do something and then go and do it himself. It didn't take me long to figure out that he didn't really expect much of the volunteers. They didn't comprehend, and they didn't use the authority needed to make the lines go in the desired directions. Consequently, Joel worked his tail off instead of being a calm 'boss' to go to with frequent questions. If I could give one bit of advice concerning handling of volunteers, it would be that Joel put his people-handling skills to work on his volunteers and let them handle the crowds.
So, the upshot of all of this is:
I was scheduled to work from 10:00 to 2:00, and we were supposed to arrive 15 minutes early for a shift. But get my family moving fast enough? Ha. At 9:45, Dale was reshuffling the load in the back of the car. I kept telling him that it didn't matter now, repack it before leaving in the evening. He said it would only take a minute. I told him that a minute was too long.
We finally got underway, and I got to the volunteer desk about 4 minutes of. Aplogized for being late. Jeremy said I wasn't needed now, walk around and enjoy myself for an hour. He wasn't mad, but I was kind of irritated that I hadn't been on time. I checked the schedule and there was really nothing going on: the actual con wasn't starting until 11:00 on Sunday. So I stood around in that area studying the schedule (needed info in case someone asked about something).
The next thing I know, Asshole (I never did discover his name) comes up to me and says, "I want you in Theatre 1." Well. I guess he noticed my big mouth after all. And that I appreciated things such as the need to keep the corridor clear and keep the noise down.
They were really afraid of a repeat of the previous day. With good reason. I don't know how the lines for JM had been previously handled, but already there were people waiting for him for 2:00, and a long line forming for the 11:00 anime program.
By 11:00 security was already nervous. And some bright person said, "Let's take them upstairs *now* where we had the Elijah Wood fans yesterday." I don't even know which unusually clever person said this. So I asked them to keep their places in line, took them upstairs, gave them permission to use the chairs in another part of the room with the priviso that they put them back, separated them into the relevant Silver and VIP lines, and asked them to watch out for their neighbors, holding places for them while they went to the washrooms or to get food.
Everyone was extremely cooperative.
As Lilith says frequently: People will be cooperative and relatively happy even if it isn't fair, as long as it is consistant and they know what the rules are. Someone thanked me later and said that I had set the tone for the whole waiting time, and she was very grateful. With a little knowledge, experience, the cooperation of security, and the indulgence of the staff, I was able to get the line out of the way, put them where they could spread out and talk without worrying about noise, keep them in order so that no one was worried about their hard-won positions in line.
THAT is a lesson I would like to see all the cons learn!
I do have to wonder, however, how much of it was the kind of fans involved in the line. One of the people from the day before was a tall, somewhat fat man, who was completely obnoxious, oblivious, and self-serving. He would not go to his fair position in the line, and in fact ended up far closer than he deserved. As I was trying to get people into reasonable order, he went to Asshole and asked whether he had to go to the end of the line, was told 'no' and didn't. Fortunately, by happening to hear that security was going to move the line upstairs before it was generally announced, I went over to those who were the beginning of the line and told them to go immediately upstairs, without telling anyone what they were doing. This, I believe, is the only thing that kept them in their well-deserved positions.
I started to say, though, that throughout the time of handling the lines, the JM fans (as a group) were more polite, cooperative, and kind to each other, than the Elijah fans (as a group). This, of course, could very well be simply because of the different ways that the lines were handled. I hope it isn't just because most of the JM people had paid $600 plus for their tickets and our fans a mere $200.
Don't get me wrong! Most people were trying to do what was right while getting their share. And I perfectly understand and agree with that. The only real problem was that one man. And it probably is because of the handling.
I seem to have run down. Only one more thing I wanted to discuss that I can think of right now.