Monday, October 19, 2009

Happy Halloween

Dear Party Mom:

I did your party on Saturday afternoon. You put me in the room the size of a bathroom and expected fourteen kids to cram in there with me and my table and all my equipment. You introduced me to your pets, you helped me out, you were friendly and chatty. The party was a lot of fun! The kids were enthralled and asked a lot of questions. I was surprised! It was a costume party, and all the kids were high on sugar and candy and the aftermath of going through a homemade haunted house. You tricked out the whole yard with Halloween activities. I don't even want to know how much it cost. Sure, a couple of the kids ducked out the back door to mess around in the yard for a couple of minutes when the dry ice went on for a little long----because most of the kids were really into blowing the carbon dioxide gas off of the cauldron. The kids had a great time despite being completely overstimulated with all these other things. Never once did I hear "I'm bored" or "When is it over?" or "I wanna make goo now" or "When are we gonna have fun?"----all of which I get from kids who can't sit still for an hour, no matter WHAT is going on.

I was feeling good when you helped me clean up. We talked about your pets, about my other job. You asked me about all the extra equipment in my kits, and I said I don't use it all for the show. I also held up a funny neon-green alien cup that has nothing to do with Halloween and said I don't know what this is for, because ... I don't. We laughed about it. You helped me carry my things to my car, you asked me how long I've been doing this. I told you two years, and I haven't done a Halloween party in a while. You know, a while, because it's Halloween. And it's seasonal. I don't get to do them often. But I'd just done one a few hours before.

You tipped me over thirty dollars, and I went home feeling like my work for the day had been completed with satisfaction.

So it really surprised me when my boss called me today to let me know that you'd called the office. You told him that you weren't satisfied with the party. You said that the kids were bored. You said I didn't know my equipment, and that the company gave her someone inexperienced because I haven't done the Halloween party in a long time. You said I seemed dissatisfied with the equipment.

But you said I was nice. So thumbs up to you.

My boss called me to yell at me today. My boss made me cry because of what you said. Because I thought I poured my heart into this performance, and I thought we were innocently chatting. I thought you were happy. You seemed happy. The kids seemed really happy. Everyone seemed happy. So I was shocked. Really. And betrayed. And offended that you would take the offhand things I said while cleaning up after the party and use it as ammunition against me for no apparent reason. You didn't want a refund, you didn't want to make me send back my tip. You made a point to tell my boss that you tipped me very well.

I don't know what your reasoning was. But my boss isn't mad at me, so you know. He yelled at me and I explained what I said, and he's convinced my version of events is correct. Do you want to know why? I've been there two years. Only one other performer has been there longer than me. We have a high turnover rate. Most performers don't last two months. They come in, thinking it's easy. They can't handle it. They walk out without finishing their afterschool sessions. They flake out. They balk. They run. They can't handle the kids. They can't handle the equipment. They can't handle the responsibility of getting places on time, planning itineraries, customizing performances for different groups and ages, memorizing scripts, being able to improvise, disciplining children in a school setting, keeping kids controlled in a birthday party setting, making confirmation calls to parents, making sure payments are made and delivered, keeping track of equipment, taking care of equipment, lugging equipment and loading and unloading and setting up and cleaning up and doing it all with energy, ease, enthusiasm, and grace.

You didn't get an inexperienced performer, lady. You got one of only three or four performers able to do the Halloween specialty party. At the party before yours, I was told by parents that they'd seen other performers from my company and I was head and shoulders above the rest. You got the best of the best. You know why? Because I give a damn. Because what you said to my boss, even when he wasn't angry at me, made me cry for half an hour. Because I felt betrayed by you. Because I don't just brush this shit off, take my thirty dollar tip, and go on to another day at the races. I care. I care about you, I care about your kids, and I care about giving you the best damn party I can. And when you're not happy, I don't sleep.

So in the end, my boss is right: I won't be chatting up customers again. It may be friendly, but I don't know what you're really hearing.


1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry you had to go through that. I am incredibly proud of you.