Monday, March 02, 2009

Advice to Upcoming Young Wristbanders of the World

As a favor to a friend, I ended up working on Saturday afternoon. Specifically, I was standing at the entrance to a massive music festival putting paper-plastic wristbands on people as they walked in. Yes, seriously.

It wasn't all bad. I was paid some small sum of money (something like $25/hour), and allowed free entry (to an event that costs around $150) at 6pm after I was done working. More importantly, I learned some very valuable lessons about wristbanding that I can now share with the general population. Take note:

  • Wristbanding is one of those activities that looks deceptively easy when you see someone else do it, but let me tell you it is harder than it looks. There are so many complex nuances about a wristbanding transaction -- the approach from either party, the size of their wrist, if the wristbandee is holding things, etc. -- that can mean epic wristbanding failure should something go even slightly wrong. They should make this a special certification subject.
  • I decided early on that I would attempt to say something friendly and conversational to as many people as I could, and I kept it up for most of my shift. However, I have a newfound respect for friendly staff, as it was utterly exhausting. Having said that, being a miserable shit seems even worse, so I am confident I made the right choice, and recommend you do the same.
  • Making 3-second conversation with what must have been over a thousand people consecutively within one afternoon is not easy. You end up figuring out a few catch phrases and using them often, e.g. "Have a good time!", "Enjoy yourself!", "Love your outfit!" and so on.
  • You can be as nice and smiley and conversational as you want, but some percentage of people will not look at you (or even in some cases, pause to have the wristband put on them) for even a moment. Get used to it.
  • As obvious as it seems after the fact, commenting on the size of someone's wrist is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs, regardless of the urge that arises every time someone with a spectacularly small or large wrist comes through. I probably told about 30 women that they had the smallest wrist I had seen that day, and I doubt they were too offended, but I'm guessing the girl who I "joked" that I might need more than one wristband for (and who I had assumed was a man from the size of massive forearm and nothing else) was far from amused.
  • Likewise, you will occasionally be faced with a ridiculously fat person who says something like "Don't make it too tight.", just as you were wondering what laws of physics you might have to break to even come close to getting only one wristband to fit around what would be considered a cankle if it were located in a different part of their body. Hopefully by the time you're done, they realize the stupidity of the request and everyone can move on.
  • Midgets are distracting, especially when they are dressed in gold spandex and are standing 10 feet behind you handing out the list of set times for all of the different acts on each stage. Resist the urge to stare but also the natural reflex, when someone asks you about the list of set times, to simply blurt out "The midgets have them." It simply offends said midgets and confuses the person who hasn't looked down yet.
  • Around 5 hours or so after the festival has started, people will start getting dragged out of the event by police and/or security, often handcuffed while covered in dirt, blood, and clearly off their faces on alcohol and/or pills. This is by far the most entertaining part of your day, so enjoy it.

All in all, it wasn't such a horrible experience, and clearly I found more than a few moments rather amusing. We were also at a secondary entrance, which meant we weren't that busy and could enjoy all the acts (N.E.R.D., Paul Oakenfold, Basement Jaxx, etc.) that were playing on the main stage right behind us. And once we got off work, I had the opportunity to slam about 3 Smirnoff Blacks within about 10 minutes to try and catch up with everyone who had started drinking 6 hours or more before I did.

Having said all that, it's unlikely I will be doing it again, favor or not, and so I bequeath to the world my personal learnings in the hopes that it was not all in vain.


Drew said...

God, I would love to see you work retail at some point.

I like the new template, by the way. Very refreshing.

Sydney AlterEgo said...

Future? I was working Silent Disco...and yes, the arrests were certainly a highlight!