Friday, April 15, 2011

can someone get the lights?

The other day at work this very tourist couple comes up to me.  The type of couple that doesn’t actually look at the books or real merchandise we sale in the shop but the couple that buys a postcard, pen, magnet, and so-forth.  They are also the type of individuals that wear the American flag shirts, fanny packs, khaki cargo shorts, and speak with a southern drawl.  I generally have no problem with these types of tourist and I generally love how predictable they are. 

And given that I work at the Holocaust Museum sometimes these are the first types of tourist to shock you.  They will ask the most intense questions and are the ones that are really moved by the Permanent Exhibit. 
This particular couple buys two “remember” buttons,  two “what would you have done” pens, and a “what you do matters” tote bag.  Which is a normal purchase - and they didn’t even bother to look at the 60+ books we have at this kiosk… but at least they bought items that had a positive message on them.?

When they are walking away they turn to me and the guy says
since, you work here can I ask you something?
At this point I am mentally prepared for the array of questions I might get.

The typical dc tourist questions … where can I get food, when does the Smithsonian close, where is the Smithsonian, where’s the fill in the blank monument, what is the closest metro, etc

Or the questions about the museum…. Where are the shoes, restrooms, elevators, where is the Anne Frank exhibit, how do I start, etc

Or the off the wall questions…. They had a picture on the 3rd floor that mentioned a girl who hid her friend do you have a book about that, I read a book ten years ago about a guy who survived the holocaust do you have that book, when was the building built, my great grandfather is a survivor and did an interview where can I see that, etc.

But NO, he doesn’t ask me any of those questions.

He looks at me and says: “why is it so dark in the museum?
My response: “it is dark as a way to preserve the artifacts that are in the Permanent Exhibit

Him: “well, I don’t understand.  I have been to lots of museum that are bright
Me:well, we are dealing with artifacts that are highly sensitive"

Him:I get the whole artifact thing, but the hallways between the exhibits should be lit better."
and after a brief pause he adds "be sure you tell someone about that"
Me as the couple walks away. “Uuummm, okay?... but I think the dark hallways add to the whole feel of the museum.

I will never understand why people vent and complain to people who work in the shops.  We literally have no control over this stuff and I would have no idea who I would tell to turn the lights up… and I’m pretty sure if I wrote the museum director an email about the light issue she would respond with a simple “no.”  And I would honestly never do that….  There is a reason the lights are dimmed, we have timed tickets, we don’t sell food in the museum, etc. 

People just crack my up sometimes.  Complain to the information desk, write a letter, put up a negative yelp review, write a blog post, tweet about it, etc.  
don’t complain to me.  
b/c I’m just going to tell my coworkers, write a blog post, tweet about it, etc.

Conclusion: Undercover boss doesn’t happen in the real world!

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