Today's matinee was challenging. Well, there were two challenges that I met. This week, I'm working near Times Square so gettting through the crowd alone was challenging.
When you come up that first staircase from the subway at the Times Square station you are instantly confronted with thousands of people - New Yorkers, tourists, Martians - walking past and through each other to get to the street. When I exit Times Square, I walk toward the Lichtenstein and hang a left for the escalators. Usually there is either a group or an individual performing there, making noise and causing people stand in useless clumps. More often than not the performers aren't worth the trouble: a guy playing garbage cans like they were drums; a man dancing with a doll as his fake partner; kids dancing, doing flips and jumping around; a woman playing a saw. Every now and then the gathering crowd is treated to an actual jazz quintet or a classical violinist earning money while attending Juilliard. But that's only occassionally. Usually, it's just dreck.
But that wasn't the first challenge. That's just a normal commute through Times Square station. The first challenge, after fighting my way through the crowds on Broadway, was the surprise of having to fight a crowd where I didn't expect there to be a crowd. Right in the middle of the street and not far from the theater, Project Dance had set up a platform flanked by enormous speakers, so their dancers could perform for New York City. I have no idea at all why they were doing this. But their music was extremely, extremely loud with the thumping bass that always accompanies bad and loud music. So while I was pushing my way through the mesmerized crowd that at that moment was watching teenagers in ridiculous costumes performing a routine to Puttin' On The Ritz, my first thought was whether or not my patrons were going to hear this loud music while they were watching (and listening to) the play. I was concerned that I wouldn't have enough headsets.
Once I entered the main auditorium I met my second challenge. Down by the stage, in front of orchestra right, the theater's electrician was setting up a closed captioning board for a special group that was coming in for the matinee. Panic set in. Between the loud music coming from the street and the 70 or so partially to totally deaf people that were coming to the show, I was very concerned I wasn't going to have enough headsets. Add that there is usualy a high volume of distribution on matinees and that today was the first truly nice day we've seen in a while, I was genuinely concerned my demand was going to exceed the 100 or so headsets I had in my booth.
Quick but separate conversations with the house manager and the person in charge of the closed captioning group soon put me at ease. The house manager said that the performance would be halted for the duration of the show. The person in charge of the special event for the hearing impaired assured me that everyone in her group probably would NOT be taking a headset, just one out of every four or so.
In the end, I only handed out 50 headsets. Normally, that would be considered high volume, but I was happy with that number because that means I had enough for everyone. Whew!