It's finally over. The end of five days at the Javits Center...and I still can't get warm enough.
I started on Sunday (a mere four hours) training for my position, which was that of cashier/customer service person. This, by the way, didn't require any damn four hours of training, but what the hell, they were paying me. And it was deeply interesting, when I arrived, that there was a pigeon wandering around in there...yes, inside. Why not? (In fact, there are usually pigeons and, one day, a small brown wren, wandering around in there...I think they come through the loading dock.)
Monday we started the four days of appearing at 7 am and leaving at 5 or 5:30 pm. What I was doing was sitting at the registration desk for a computer expo called Interop. I worked a couple of days for it last year, but I was inside the exhibition hall, where there is something resembling heat. No such luck this year. I was wearing pants, socks, long underwear and sweaters every day, and I STILL had to put my coat over my shoulders when the sun went down. And by the way, when the sun comes UP, between about 8:30 and 9 am, it streams directly into your eyes and makes it impossible to see your computer screen. The result of this is a row of people who look like they have scoliosis AND are hunchbacked, as we desperately try new and interesting contortions to get the glare out of our eyes. What you do in this case is simply ask whoever is at your station who needs help to move a few inches to the right or left and block the sun so you can SEE to help him.
The job itself wasn't at all bad, and we had a nice group of people to work with, so that was fine. But my God, how I hate that place.
First of all, it's at the ass end of nowhere. You cannot get to 11th Avenue and 34th Street any way except the 34th Street crosstown bus, which, in common with most crosstown buses in our dear town, runs according to a schedule known only, I gather, to the gods of traffic. And yes, of course I could walk from 34th and 8th (which is where my uptown bus lets me off) but not in darkness. And after daylight savings time ends, if you have to be somewhere at 7 am, most of your travel time is in darkness.
And you have to pack as if you were going camping in a VERY distant location, because the Javits feels that since they have the only food in the neighborhood, they can charge whatever the hell they please for it. And do they ever...$2 for a banana. $6 for coffee and a donut. $3.76 for a 10 ounce bottle of water (yeah, the same water the deli charges $1.50 for). I tried looking at the vending machines because I had a Diet Coke jones...$3.50 for the (deli) $1.50 Diet Coke. Wouldn't you think they'd be able to supply the registration tables with little portable heaters with all that cash coming in?
Meanwhile, I'm dealing with computer freaks at my little customer service station. What interesting people. Did you know that they can't run computers? What you're supposed to do when you come into the expo is type your name into one of a couple of rows of laptops. This action will automatically print out your ID badge for the show. You have no idea how many deeply confused people came to me because they were completely incapable of performing this task. And almost every single one of these bemused gents (there don't seem to be a lot of female computer geeks, or at least not that I saw) had on his badge "IT Manager." So they can build computers, they can write code for computers, they can do all sorts of arcane things with computers...but they can't run computers. (Parenthetically...see the parentheses?...it is interesting to note that most commercial fisherman can't swim. They say that if you get swept off your boat into winter water during a squall, there's no sense in bothering with it because the cold will kill you very quickly anyway.)
And lunch hour is a bore because there's nowhere to go. I would take my little insulated lunch bag and sit down and eat and read the paper, after having bought a Diet Coke from the nice gyro wagon outside (if you don't bring your lunch that's the only way to get affordable food).
I discovered that people are really hogs for free stuff. I can't tell you how many of these guys would insist that they were entitled to a free pass (the expo cost $100 at its most basic - i.e., the exhibition floor - and went up from there through various seminars and stuff). My favorite guy kept insisting that he had a free pass because he had a letter saying that if he was among the first 25 people to complete a questionnaire, he won an expensive pass to the show. In fact, this was quite true, there was such a promotion, and we had a list of the people who had won it. He was not, however, among them. He could NOT be convinced of this, even after I explained it to him in great detail. Me: Yes, sir, I see this letter, but please note that the paragraph you are talking about says, "IF you are among the first 25 people." Since you didn't get a further confirmation that you were one of those people, you don't get a free pass. HIM: Yes, but it says right here, I get a free pass. Me: No, sir. Please look at the sentence. It clearly says IF. Him: Yes, but it says... And so on, and so on and so on. In the middle of this, a very agitated gentleman came racing up to Roderigo, who was sitting next to me, and started ranting madly away because he had been asked for his photo ID to get his pass for the show. He was quite hysterical about this, and told us we were all Chinese (repressive Chinese government, I presume he meant) and that we just hated Muslim Italians. Frankly, I don't know about you, but I've actually never thought much about Muslim Italians. I mean, you know, it's not something that really crosses my mind a lot...or ever. But he was convinced. We finally got him all calmed down and off with his pass, at which point my guy, Mr. Stubborn (who had watched this whole thing fascinatedly), turned back to me and said, without missing a beat: "It says right here..."
And one guy insisted that we had hidden bags. At most of these shows, along with your ID badge, you're given a bag (like those 99 cent reusable bags you can buy at the grocery store) with the expo's logo on it to lug around all the promotional stuff from the exhibitors (I have a very nice canvas messenger bag that I scored while doing another computer show a couple of years ago). However, there were none this year because of the recession, but this gent was convinced that we were hiding them from him.
And on and on it went. "The computer over there keeps asking for my password. What's my password?" (You don't need a password...as the nice man by the computers told you, just type in your name and hit return.) "Why didn't I get a free pass? My coworker got a free pass." (Because your coworker had the sense to preregister three weeks ago, stupid.) "I just want to go see one person in there. I don't need a badge for that, do I?" (Yes. Fork over the cash.) Over and over and over.
My favorite was the number of people without photo IDs. I fail utterly to understand this. These are supposed to be business people, right? How on earth do they go to appointments? You can't get into an office building these days without a photo ID. And, since many of them were out of towners, how on earth did they get on an airplane? Did they walk from wherever they were? Greyhound bus? From Oklahoma? And I also liked one man who was fussing about meeting his colleagues, because he didn't know where in the Center they were. It evidently hadn't occurred to him to use his cell phone.
But it's finally over...unfortunately, I seem to have been very good at it and will probably get called to do the whole damn thing again next year. I have every intention of providing myself with more interesting lunches and better long underwear...fur-lined, if at all possible.
I took the day thoroughly off today...I got to sleep until 7 this morning, which was deeply lovely. Of course, Grant Wilfley called, and I get up at 4 am tomorrow to make a 6 am call (in Manhattan, just on West 25th, thank heavens) for The Adjustment Bureau, whatever it may be. Ah, well...it's all more money for Christmas. And Thanksgiving is this coming week! I'm not sure I'm ready, but then, it's going to arrive whether I am or not. To the stove! To the shopping list! On Dancer, on Dasher, on Comet...wait, wait. Not yet. Now I have to think Pilgrims...