Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Where I Belong

I consider myself lucky that one of my earliest jobs was in a field that I absolutely love, that it was a great environment to work in, and that I had awesome bosses. It set the bar pretty high, and the last few jobs I've had have been pretty lackluster, even without the comparison. My dissatisfaction with my current job has me reminiscing about this early work experience, and I really find that I miss it.

Back in the day, I worked as an usher for a large performing arts center. It had only been open a year, and was a renovation of the city's first high school. I worked there for two years or so, commuting back on the weekends when I got into college. I got to the point where I wasn't just an usher, I was also able to house-manage the smaller of the two stages. I helped out on mornings when tickets for highly-anticipated events went on sale. I helped patrons find their seats, and get new seats when they had tickets on the fourth floor (the balcony, which was above the mezzanine - - it was really damn high up) and acrophobia kicked in. I just loved it. Not only was it a performing arts area, but it was also a customer service area.

My bosses were awesome. I'll never forget the one who gave me a great brief on the professors at the college I would soon attend, and later gave me advice I should have listened to. He was fond of calling me "AB" and high-fiving me. I think it amused him that I was so damn short, but it was still fun. He left, and his assistant took over, and she often seemed to have such a great energy, and attitude. These were people that I wanted to work for, and made me want to do well. Those are good feelings for a kid just entering the work force to have, I think.

Out of lingering nostalgia and a few other reasons, I decided to become a fan of the center on Facebook, and yesterday a video was posted of a horde of children streaming into the building to attend a show. I am not a person who is fond of children, but watching the clip made me want to be there so badly.

There's something wonderful about a performing arts center. It's not like retail, or (I imagine) other types of customer service. So often, it seems, shopping is like a chore for people. It's not something they get excited about very frequently (though there are moments, and when they happen, it's kind of awesome in its own way). But with performing arts, the energy can be incredible. For a lot of people, it's a special occasion, and they're happy to be there, and looking forward to the next few hours. I'd give my left arm to be back in that kind of environment.

Somebody's left arm, anyway. No need to go wasting a perfectly good one.
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  1. Does it need to be a living left arm? You could always mug a mannequin.

  2. There's a place we used to go to, across the river from Cincinnati, called Shadowbox Cabaret. Sounds like a gentleman's club (what an ironic euphemism!) but it's actually a sketch comedy/rock and roll show. Typing that really dilutes The AWESOME, but trust me, awesome it is.

    I bring this up because, in its early days, we got to know the cast and the band. It brought back the days I was on Stage Crew in High School, probably one of the few things I truly enjoyed from those days.

    Anyway, perhaps the coolest thing about Shadowbox was that the performers were also the stage crew were also the band (some of them) were also the waiters - did I mention that it was dinner and a show? They also did the sales calls for tickets.

    So when you went to the Shadowbox, I think you ended up with a very personal connection to the show. The person you bought the tickets from may be playing the bass on stage, or serving you pizza.

    I'm not sure why I'm telling you all this, since you don't know me from Adam. And I don't know what they have out your way. But if you ever get the chance to work at a venue like that, take it. Because every single one of those Shadowbox people would tell you that despite all the hard work, it was their dream job.