Sunday, April 20, 2008

Whew!--Cleared Again

I say that tongue in cheek because I am a moderately dull person with no strange or subversive undertakings in my past.  I'm ok with moderately dull, actually.

I was cleared again by the Secret Service to be able to work an event at a sister store--a book signing with Jenna and Laura Bush--about 10 days from now.

Now, I have little to no personal interest in those two folks, but I have to say the goings-on surrounding the event are a sight to behold.  It is worth the extra fuss on my part to participate in such an entertaining undertaking.  

Events with people who have Secret Service detail are actually the easiest big events to run:  there is an extremely strict set of rules/guidelines, and they must be followed, no exceptions.  I love that.  With all big events involving an author or artist/musician of some fame, there are always people who attempt to join the entourage:

"He and I went to school together in the 3rd grade.  He'll want me to be with him at the signing table.  Let me through." and "I'm a cancer-survivor.  She was such an inspiration to me.  She won't mind signing this quilt I made." and "When you say he'll only sign the book, that means he'll sign my T-shirt and magazines, too, right?" and "My daughter was in the same Girl Scout Troop as his niece.  I know the guidelines say no pictures, but I want to pose for a picture with him to give to my daughter because she's his biggest fan and could not come tonight."  You get the idea.

With regular events the person's publicist and publisher sets the rules, not the store, but it is up to the store to enforce them.  It's a difficult position to be in, to play the bad guy, because we're in the service business, and people/event-attenders try to push around and sometimes bully the staff into giving them what they want.    

But with the political people events, two of the constant rules are:  no posing for photographs, and bring absolutely nothing through the line/to the signing table.  What does that mean?  Well, the no posing for photographs is obvious.  The 'nothing' rule is for the safety and protection of the political person.  And there are always a host of other rules that exist to ensure their safety. 

I can see how it is difficult, especially for those who are accustomed to carrying a bag or backpack, to not carry something in their hands or in a bag, but that's the way it is.  People enter the front doors in droves with purses, messengers bags, magazine articles, gifts, cameras, other books, etc., and get indignant when told they must take all those items back to their cars.  The rules are made available well ahead of time, so there is ample opportunity to make preparations on their part. 

Again, I understand the frustration, but these are times when the rules absolutely cannot and will not be compromised.  How refreshing that is.  In a world of gray, there is finally some black and white.  And when people start to argue or make demands, and believe me they do, I get to tell them, "I'm sorry.  You cannot bring that into the line with you.  The Secret Service will have you removed if you do."

All that being said, most folks are perfectly compliant and willing to work with us to make the event successful for everyone, but it is those 50-ish people who argue, try to manipulate, bully, posture, try to drag an employee into a political conversation, or try to make a scene to get attention, that makes it such a fun thing to both participate in and observe. 

I've been yelled at by the best and the worst of them and lived to laugh about it.  And I simply have to laugh about grown adults acting like petulant children.  Ha!


CatBoy said...

I wonder if the secret service read my blog, if I'd make it through the screening. I might be borderline subversive.

Have a fun time in Orlando and then on your cruise--I guess we'll catch each other somewhere in there.

emma said...

That sounds like a lot of fun (and work) but mostly fun.

PS: What did you end up wearing to your fancy dinner in Florida?

CatBoy said...