Being a team member (part 2)

So the morning of my first shift arrived and I have to say, I had a few butterflies. I felt like the new kid in town even though this was only the second day of the games. I didn’t know who I would be working with or what I would be doing for the next 7 hours. Excited but nervous is how I’d sum it up.

I picked up my accreditation pass and headed for the workforce registration desk. I was checked in, given a water bottle to keep hydrated (very important) and a meal ticket to exchange for food later (also very important). I was then given a number 2 and a spot number 36. No further information was provided. Mysterious..I was told by another volunteer that 2 was my team for the day and 36 denoted my “spot”. A team leader would explain more at the briefing.

It didn’t take long for the more experienced volunteers (they’d actually only done 1 or 2 shifts themselves by this stage) but had clearly worked out the ropes, to explain to me that if you were given numbers 1-3 that meant you were working somewhere outside all day on your feet. Numbers 4-6 meant you had a role inside the Aquatics Centre where the sporting action was taking place.

Most volunteers were already aiming to be picked for teams 4-6 as that was perceived to be the place to be. It was more exciting, less hard work and you got to watch the action and you might get on TV. Mmmmm…I was listening to all this talk on my first day and already was being influenced by what others thought the best shifts were and feeling I’d landed a sucker. I started to think I want to be inside too. 🤔

The team leaders started calling out the team numbers and asking us to follow them. People dispersed to their teams. I was taken to “area 2” which was the area by the public security check in/tickets and also included the lower concourse. It was the first part of the venue that the public entered after queuing for access. There were some food concessions, a souvenir shop and the big #B2022 sign for photos. There was then a slope leading up to the upper concourse and to the venue. The interesting thing was that the slope arched around and so you couldn’t see what was around the corner or much of the venue itself. It was partly hidden away just out of sight. Being assigned to area 2, I was informed that I had to stay in that area for whole of shift. No venturing into other team areas.

I was to be on ticket scanning duty for the shift. There were 5 of us to process about 4,500 spectators in an hour and a half before the events started. Speed was of the essence. There had been problems the previous day with some re-printed tickets but we would have a “trouble shooter” with us. If a ticket didn’t scan we had to call for help and if necessary people would have to go back to the ticket resolution office. We couldn’t let anyone through without scanning their ticket either printed or on their phones. A successful scan emitted a “ting” and a big green tick. Access granted.

It wasn’t lost on me that I was to be a gate keeper for the day. Interesting.

It soon became apparent once the public had come through security checks that they thought they’d arrived and could walk straight in. They weren’t prepared to be stopped again and asked to show their tickets. They had to be verified. We started to call out to them as they were in security line to get their tickets ready for scanning and that seemed to work. It quickened up the process no end. Preparation was the key. It was all about looking at what was happening and directing people to where they needed to be whilst providing a warm welcome and answering enquiries. I’m no shrinking violet and to be fair soon discovered that I don’t mind shouting out instructions. It would be fair to say that I’m quite loud. Whilst I felt initially that I’d been thrown in at the deep end, once I’d mastered the scanner, overcome some ticketing problems then it was great and I really enjoyed it. It seemed I’d found my niche.

Once everyone had their tickets checked and had gone through the lower part of the concourse then our area quickly became deserted. The event was underway and so I felt a bit redundant at that point but we weren’t allowed to leave our posts because of the “late comers”. Apparently, there are always late comers so someone has to be there ready to check the tickets and grant entry. It was then a lot of hanging about waiting for the latecomers. That was the boring part as we were effectively stood down as the main part of our work was now complete. Nothing more to be done until crowd control for the leavers.

At break I sat with some other volunteers… soon turned to what people were doing. It was fascinating how this was such a hot topic of conversation. Everyone was being defined by their role but we knew nothing of each other’s lives outside of this environment. One of the ladies explained that she was responsible for preparing and carrying the medals out for the medal ceremonies..nice. A very visible role. One of the other chaps said he was down the “alleyway”. This was the area outside the venue that people started to queue after getting off the buses. It wasn’t the nicest of areas and was indeed a very narrow alleyway. You had the terrorism police at one end with their guns, the security teams and you were trying to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere giving high fives to the crowds. It was definitely one of the “invisible” roles and hard work.

It was then the medal lady said something really interesting to Mr alleway. She said “it doesn’t matter what we do, all our roles are important”. However, the way she said it came over as really condescending and insincere. I don’t know if she meant it that way or not but it was one of those awkward moments of silence that followed. I thought oh no, that’s probably exactly what I would have said myself. In fact I could even hear myself saying it in a smug tone of voice. It made me realise that it’s easy to say things like that when you have a perceived great job, but the test is whether you’d be happy to be put anywhere and to carry out any role that you were given in the spirit of teamwork without complaining. Deep down did we really believe that each role was as important and necessary as the other…the honourable and the not so honourable. Wasn’t everyone already scoping out the roles they perceived to be better….there was definitely role envy.

That was a definite challenge to me given I’d already had aspirations for an inside role. However, I decided then that I wasn’t going to ask to be put somewhere else on my next shift but would take what I was given each day. That turned out to be more challenging than I realised because it wasn’t long before I was down the alleyway myself…

To be continued.

One response to “Being a team member (part 2)”

  1. I love this behind the scenes look at the games and those without whom the games would not be a success. It reminded me of working on security behind the scenes at a big tent mission many years ago; it was such a rewarding if overlooked job.

    Liked by 1 person

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