The Student Ambassadors who work on the ground floor of the USA National Pavilion are called the “Ops Team” (as in operations). We organize the queue, introduce the films, and make sure the influx of visitors into each section runs smoothly. So pretty much, it’s a tough job. When you have visitors waiting in line for 2 hours, they can get kind of grouchy. Wait, let me elaborate. When you have visitors, who are crammed up against one another and are waiting in the sweltering 39 degree Celsius heat (no need to convert that, just take my word, it’s hot) for over two hours in long-sleeved shirts because tan skin is not sexy….they are grouchy. I hope those details helped you understand a little better.
Now let us discover the many dangers that may befall a careless Ops team member. Our journey begins with the Expo visitor. This visitor, most likely Chinese, begins his day early, in hopes of beating the lines and the heat, and waits outside the Expo gates before they have even opened. Once he is finally let inside at 9:00am, he will sprint from his standing position to the pavilion of his choice, where he will resume standing/waiting.
Once he has finally arrived at said pavilion, he will quickly rush through the queue in hopes of entering the pavilion; soon discovering, to his dismay, that none of the pavilions open until 9:30. Upon traversing several parts of the USA pavilion queue, our traveler will reach a fork in the road. At this point, he can choose between six different lines to reach his final destination. These lines are all the same – same length, same distance from the pavilion, equal treatment of entrance. The visitor might falter and question which line is the best, but in the end he will queue in the line that everyone before him has chosen and follow the flow of traffic. Thus, our poor Ops team member working the queue line must be extra vigilant, else the USA Pavilion will suffer from Lop-sided Queue Syndrome, where all the visitors line up in only 2 or 3 lines of the 6 lines available.
Our visitor has now reached the end of his waiting journey. He sees the turnstile coming closer and closer as he inches towards the entrance. 2 people left, 1 person left, it is his turn, then KALUNK. The turnstile has stopped! He can’t get in! Rather than ask the Ops worker present why he cannot get in (500 people are let in every 10 mins, once the limit is reached, turnstiles shut off), he will panic and try to crawl under the turnstile. If the Ops person working Turnstiles does not catch the perpetrator, then all the other waiting visitors will follow suit and rush under the turnstiles.
Realizing that his plan of action has failed him, our lovely visitor will now resort to verbal diplomacy. He will kindly inform you that his family is inside and he been separated from them. Thus, he needs to be let in. Now, we Ops Team workers must be strong of heart in these scenarios and not let our emotions guide us, otherwise we would be letting in “exceptions” from all 6 lines every 10 minutes. If we use our charming ways however, we can coerce the already-let-in family members to wait patiently for their stranded relative.
Once the waiting debacle has passed, our traveler continues on his way with his reunited family. He will walk into the first room, called Overture, only to discover he must wait 5 more minutes before the first film can start. This is where our amazing Overture Ops team member steps up to the plate. Through charming introductions, jokes, and interaction, the Ops “Emcee” for Overture will woo the crowd and cause time to fly by. The crowd will be so in awe of the foreigner speaking Mandarin, they will cease to remember their grouchy moods.
Once the Overture movie begins, our hypothetical Chinese visitor will chuckle to himself at the Americans attempting to speak Chinese and move on to the next show. In Act I, he will whip out his camera to photograph President Obama on the screen and in Act II, which has special “4-d effects” like wind and rain, he will pop open his umbrella or cover his head with his hands (much to the amusement of the Ops person working there). In Act III, our friend will rush over to a crowd he sees forming in the corner, curious as to what the hub-bub is all about. He will soon discover that the USA Pavilion is giving out souvenirs.
With prize (a cell phone charm that looks like a small blue rabbit) in hand, our victorious visitor will continue on his merry way. But wait! Before he leaves Act III, he spies an interesting game that he feels inclined to play. Unfortunately for the Ops Team person currently manning Act III, this game tends to break after every player. The video camera of the game, which mimics the person’s movements with a skeleton on the screen, needs to reset itself after each player…but because everyone is so eager to play and steps onto the playing platform at once before it resets, the Ops worker has to wave something directly in front of the camera lens so it’ll reset. For workers of shorter stature, like myself, this tends to be quite a challenge, requiring embarrassing leaps and bounds, second attempts, and befriending of tall security guards.
By this point, the man is all tuckered out and leaves. He enjoyed his time, is happy, and might even buy some yummy treats at the USA Diner on his way out.
The day we switched it up in Act III and gave out butter: read this post.