Monday, June 1, 2009

The Rules

It may make me sound like a Goody Two Shoes or a Polly Prissypants, but I have to admit that I am one who follows the rules. If a sign says Keep off the grass, I do so. I am the one who sits at a red light and obeys the sign that reads No right turn on red, even though the cars behind me honk impatiently. I also throw away my trash, slow down in school zones, and obediently pick up George’s poop.

But I have learned, in dealing with the public during my many jobs, that the majority of the population could care less about rules because they think the rules apply to everyone else.

I am thinking about rules today because this weekend my job was to corral and coordinate 450 children, 100 volunteer parents, and hundreds of audience members through our annual Spring Concert performances at Nevada Ballet. So I ask you to please stop for a minute and think about what I just said. 450 children. 100 volunteer parents. Probably 1500+ audience members. See why rules are important? And yet so many of the people I encountered this weekend still think rules don’t apply to them.

Over the past three months we probably told the parents 20 times that they would pick up their children after the show in the lobby. But still we had parents who showed up at the backstage door and angrily demanded that their child be allowed to leave.

There was an extra side door backstage that we blocked off with curtains and signs saying Do Not Open Door, for security reasons. Still, the volunteer moms would open this door and let people in during the show. They thought surely it was okay – it was just their husbands after all.

And after the performances, classes were brought to the lobby one at a time, and ushers made sure children were picked up by a parent and didn’t run blindly into the crowd to be lost forever. Still, we had parents who angrily told me that we were ridiculous and that they shouldn’t have to wait. So I guess they thought we should just allow all 500+ audience members backstage to wander around and find their kids?

During the performances, even after repeated requests for audience members not to text during the show and shine light on the people sitting behind them, they usually only put their phones away after an usher finally told them they would be escorted from the theater.

Even the veteran volunteer mothers who had done this job for years caused problems, thinking they could take their classes around the building to meet parents, instead of going up the side of the theater and following the path we had created, from checkpoint to checkpoint. They got angry, not understanding that anyone who didn’t follow the rules made our system fall apart. We needed to know the location of each class at all times. Just because they had done it before didn’t give them special privileges.

These rule-breaking people have shown up in my other jobs, too, when I was performing for a living. At the Venetian, there were the people who would sit and smoke right next to the huge NO SMOKING signs. And at every show in town there are people who take flash photos after hearing the No Flash Photography speech. They think they will just sneak in one photo, and then they end up blinding the performers on stage. Why can’t they just realize there are reasons for the rules?

To me, the best example of this kind of thinking happened when I danced at the Stratosphere and had to pose in costume with the audience after every show. After too many photos in which drunk men inappropriately copped a feel or tourists draped their sweaty armpits on our shoulders, we finally put ropes in front of us so that people would stand in front for the photo and not be allowed to stand next to us. But many people would JUMP OVER the ropes and touch us anyway! Who did they think those ropes were for - only the crazy people? Many of the people who jumped over were good-natured, nice people who innocently wanted a picture with the pretty girls. Yes, they may have been nice, but the ropes were for everyone! People just tend to think it’s okay for them to break the rules. After all, it’s just them, right?

Okay, after three 12+ hour work days in a row in which we instilled rules for the overall purpose of giving children a safe, rewarding performance experience, I needed to vent. So thank you very much. Now I’m going to go throw my Starbucks cup in the trash can, yield to oncoming traffic, and drive a perfect 35 miles an hour all the way home.

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