Monday, May 22, 2006

Ushering My Boredom Away

EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. - So, for those readers who don't know, I work part-time as an usher at the State Theatre in New Brunswick. I got the job in October 2005, finally getting an interview for an ushering position after trying them maybe one or two other times beforehand.

I bring this up because this weekend was a fairly busy one for me at the theater. This weekend was all dance recitals, all the time: Rising Star Dance Studio in Manalapan held a whole bunch of recitals, all of them ranging from 2½ to 3 hours long. A lot of standing! And the organizers of the event---the instructors at the dance school---were adamant that no one go down the aisles during a particular number.

This was different from the norm. Usually, we're allowed to just let people go up and down except for musical shows and orchestra concerts. But this weekend, we had to try to keep anyone from going down the aisles during numbers---even those who had already been seated.

So this weekend, I basically had to deal with quite a bit of rudeness, especially from people who simply walked past me as I tried to tell them to stay back until the number was over. "Oh, my seat's just over there," most of these fast walkers would tell me, pointing their finger at some faraway area and brushing past me.

All for seeing bunch of limited-talent kids anyway. (Hey, I didn't say that; another usher did!)

Still, this is what I signed up for---as an usher, I sign up for the events I want to work. Heck, this is what I expected when I applied to the job.

At the very least, this is something I've been able to honestly boast about in job interviews so far: ushering is a form of customer service, so I've had to deal with different kinds of people, answer their questions, basically be calm with even the least courteous of them.

I like working at the State Theatre. Sure, the pay isn't all that hot---$6.50/hr, woo-hoo---but nice people work there, and yes, I do get to see shows for free, which can be fun if the show is any good. (This job has been a boon to my classical music concerts consumption---and not just because I get to see more of them for free. In the past, believe it or not, I had slept at nearly every classical music concert I've been to. Because I have to stand as an usher, it's kept me awake even during overplayed, though certainly great, works like Beethoven's Seventh or Mussorgsky/Ravel's Pictures at an Exhibition. No Mahler performances yet, alas.)

The only thing that kinda sucks is that it's not easy to get out of shifts if you signed up for one and then find out later that you might not want to, or might not be able to, work that shift: the House Manager insists that we find our own replacement. That means a lot of random calling and leaving of messages and pleading. I'm told, however, that that is the way it usually is for a lot of jobs such as ushers or even security guards; so I guess I shouldn't complain, right?

The State Theatre gets pretty dead in July and August, though, so that's why I'm going through this job search process right now. I need more money!

I'm probably going to ushering again next year. In fact, looking at the brochure for the 2006-7 season at the theatre, next year looks to be a pretty cool season! I mean, the New York Philharmonic is set to make its New Jersey debut here in September. One of the world's greatest orchestras on the New Brunswick stage! Man, I'm there, no matter whether I'm ushering or not!


Anonymous said...

The ushering job sounds like a fun job. Maybe try to get that job at Barnes and Noble too, that one can't be too hard. Then you will have two jobs that at least will be in areas of your interest.

Anonymous said...

Barnes & Noble doesn't pay that much either.