Can’t Fake Nice
Last weekend I was at an event – okay, a crazy event. It was unlike anything I have ever done. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it here, being that the title of the blog advertises that I am a Christian, but I was at a Vampire Diaries convention. Okay, I’ve said it. Now I feel better. Vampires are, after all, eternal beings raised imperishable. But I will save reflections on that for another post.
I was there with my teenaged daughter. She (and I) really love the show, albeit for very different reasons. Anyway. These conventions are (apparently) designed for young women to come and adore their tv idols. Yes, idol worship at its most cultural. Politely. We were instructed that, upon coming face to face for autographs and “photo ops,” we were not to “hug them, tell personal stories or tell them that we loved them. After all, that’s why we’re all here.” So, it was to be a hands off, mouth shut, take your turn kind of star exposure experience. We bought the cheap seats which, let me tell you, are not cheap.
We had a “preferred Sunday” seat. I didn’t really know what that entitled us to so I wandered past the administrative table in the main foyer to see if anyone could clear that up for me. It was early, 20 minutes or so before check in/registration time, but I am an early riser. My daughter, however, wanted to sleep as long as possible. So this was a search mission – to see how late I could let her sleep based on our “ticket category designated entry time.” All I needed to know was whether we qualified for the autograph session. At stake (pardon the pun) was 2 precious hours of sleep that she would exchange for a personal autograph if she could.
There was no one at the admin table. No literature – except a schedule of events. No signage – except the event posters. I needed some help. At that moment, 3 admin people started to arrive and put down their briefcases, pull out their paperwork and colorful tickets. They were grim-faced. They had likely been there all day yesterday and who knows how many hours they had given to planning and prep? It was early, still 20 minutes or so until the day’s registration kick-off. Still, all I had was a simple question.
I sidled politely up to the table and one woman sort of glanced in my direction with a pained, “go away” expression. “Registration will be open in a few minutes,” she said. Her voice was light, administrative, dismissing. I didn’t want to regisiter. Just to ask a quick question.
I hazarded, “Can I just ask something quickly?”
So call me pushy or just inquisitive. I could come back later, but I was here now. It was quick question. I was the customer here…
She could simply have said, “We open at 8. Please come back after we set up” or even “I’m sorry, you’ll have to wait until 8 like everyone else.” But she didn’t. She said, “Of course, I’m happy to answer your question,” with the nastiest sarcastic tone accompanied by the sourest of faces and stiffness of body posture as she turned to me.
I looked at her face and I immediately buckled. “I’ll just come back after you’re set up.”
Her lips curled upward in what might pass as an attempt at a smile as she hissed, “Thank you.”
As I left, my mind progressed through three things:
- In the time it took her to be rude, she could have easily answered my question.
- If she had set and stuck to her boundaries (“Happy to answer your question at 8”), we all could have shaken hands and parted on an even keel.
- Body language and facial expression communicate so much more than words do. When the two are in conflict, we can always tell which one is lying.
She reminded me of a wonderful teaching of Jesus. To purify our hearts before speaking our minds, because the one always divulges the other.
I did go back at 8 and got my question answered. No autographs for the cheap seats. But, over breakfast, I got talking with a woman and her son who, it turned out, had an extra “preferred ticket” they wouldn’t be using. Would I like it to get my daughter in for the autographs? You bet. Thank you!
Ah, the best things in life are free. It’s the lessons that are the most expensive.
When I redeemed the gift ticket, the admin woman was rolling through registration. “Have a great day,” I told her. And meant it. She gave me smile that looked genuine and said, “Thank you!”
I don’t think she recognized me, but you never know. These people are in the entertainment business.