Tuesday, March 14, 2006


If my toes don't warm up soon, I'm afraid I might just lose them. Today was my first day back at the theatre since we got 10 inches of snow. Due to poor planning, I wore black loafers rather than boots. Treacherous conditions on the sidewalk made things slow going, so I just missed a bus and had to wait 15 minutes. My toes were already numb and I hadn't even started to wrangle buses yet.

You see, I work at a nonprofit theatre that hosts "An evening of theatre during the day" for school field trips. My job title is "Usher" when I work the weekday matinees. But my duties include not only ticket tearing and handing out programs, but also concessions and bus wrangling. That's right, Bus Wrangling. Like I'm gonna lasso me a school bus on Brokeback Capital Hill (the theatre is in St. Paul - Capital of Minnesota). Bus Wrangling involves meeting and greeting busloads of middle school students, teachers, chaperones and typically grumpy drivers that arrive to see "The Diary of Anne Frank."

Wranglers start meeting buses at 9:15. Buses should arrive anytime between 9:20 and 9:45 at the absolute latest. So they usually arrive at 9:50, 10 minutes before 10:00 curtain. Which means another half hour outside. Which is what happened today.

Once all students have been escorted across the street and into the theatre, announcements made, tickets torn, programs handed out, students seated (and re-seated by teachers when they realize problem kids have sat together), the show can begin.

The Diary of Anne Frank runs from February to May and this is like the 5th year the theatre has been doing this, so things pretty much run like clockwork:

When Anne screams in fright during an Act I nightmare, it is time to get the soda out of the cooler for concessions. When the family starts to sing the Chanakah song, intermission is about to begin. In Act II, when you can hear "ooooohs" and whistles coming from the audience, Anne and Peter are about to have their first kiss. [When I hear this cooing and giggling, I always think to myself, "What are you? 12?". And then I remember that yes, they are.]

When the siren sounds that the SS had surrounded the block, it is time to once again head back outside to meet the buses, making sure they haven't arrived too soon in violation of our contract wth the city, or too late, leaving students in the cold. When the House Manager radios me on the walkie talkie and says "The Nazis have arrived," then I know the students will be out shortly.

With my toes already refrozen from the 2nd wrangle, I head back out to wait for the return bus. That is when I had my "Groundhog Day" Ned Ryerson moment. I stepped off the curb into a seemingly shallow puddle, only to find my right foot in a slush-filled pothole up to my ankle, water going over the top of my loafers into my shoes. "Watch out for that last step, it's a doozey!"

No amount of heat on the bus could penetrate that cold wet sock, leaving me in fear of permanent frostbite damage.

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