Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Crawling Under Tables
This past Saturday was Books by the Banks festival in Cincinnati, and by all measures it seemed to be a huge success. I'll learn the final numbers later, but last year 3500 attended, and this year should be even bigger.
For most of the six hours the event went on, I was on the floor of the convention center, helping visitors find specific authors, letting people know when and where panel discussions were taking place, and assisting authors in my "area." This meant bringing them water or coffee, letting them know when their assigned lunch time was approaching, or pulling over giant mascots for pictures (my favorite task!) I also updated the Books by the Banks twitter feed throughout the day, which meant taking pictures of the crowd and authors and posting them online.
Because I was so busy all day, I forgot I was shy; that large crowds and new people scare me. I could just think about them--helping them, making sure they had a great experience--and not worry about my own neuroses. Maybe that's why I'm drawn to public service. While a part of me wants to crawl under a table and hide with my book (or notebook) I know I need to engage with others. If I'm providing service to others, that engagement becomes easier for me and I find that I actually enjoy it.
But to provide an example of the highs and lows of public service, a customer called me a "dingbat" yesterday. Seriously.