Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Grace(less) Under Fire

Queens's "Under Pressure" could be my theme song these past few months, maybe even year...or two. I have a tendency to take on more than I probably should both at the library, in the community, and at home. I blame this on my mother, who whenever any of the my siblings or I had down time she'd give us a sock drawer to organize. But I digress....Back to the pressure. One of the things that I took on this past year was helping out with the City of Kankakee Labor Day Parade. My job was to coordinate the library's entry in the parade and also generally help with the parade publicity, printing of signs, etc...This was my second year doing this and I know well that the day of the parade is stressful. It is a myriad of walkie-talkie transmissions, deciphering of hand-written parade entry descriptions, dealing with sweaty volunteers who have been suckered into wearing large animal costumes, parking 80 oversized vehicles, floats, and various sundry other things that people think are good ideas to enter into a parade. It is imperative that you keep cool under pressure when you are helping out with events like this. I know this. I teach this to my staff. This is the most important rule of event planning. Remain calm. Zen.

So, of course, you know this is part of my story where I tell you that I completely threw all that out the window for a flyer. A flyer.

A young lady approached the parade registration table with genuine enthusiasm holding a small flyer with some writing on it. The table at this point was in a bit of shambles with some confused and slightly irritated entrants, and the Queen song is blaring loudly in my head. The enthusiastic young lady held out the flyer in front of me and said that she wanted to tell me about an event. I assumed that this was part of the parade and that she wanted to give me her description for the emcee to read. She looked confused - "no, I just want you to know about this basketball event we have coming up." Now, why I didn't just take the flyer and thank her for it so she could be on her way - I have no idea. No, this is the point where I said, "I can't deal with this right now. We are trying to register people for the parade. Show this to someone who's not working." The young lady mumbled an apology to me and walked away I'm sure embarrassed and upset. Vicki leaned over and whispered to me, "Way to represent the library." She was right. That was no way to deal with anyone and I knew it. It's not easy for me to admit that I still make freshman mistakes with events, but I do.

The parade was a success. The library got second place for the amazing entry that Yvonne Croswell, Dantaya Robertson, and Steve Bauman all decorated. And I wish I could enjoy a little more of the success had it not been for that darn flyer.

Allison Beasley
Head of Adult Services


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