In this writing, I would like to discuss a little thing called courtesy. Now, all of us say we want it but, I’ve found that, when there is a “easier” way to do something, people in general will take that easy way. Let me start with a little background that got me to thinking about this subject. This week is the first week of August and, here in Reno, there is an event going on called Hot August Nights. When this event first started thirty years ago, it was a fun little event with some classic cars and a couple of 50’s and 60’s bands. A few hundred people came out to support it and it was a great time. Over the years, this event has become world famous and attracts tens of thousands of people, thousands of classic cars, and brings millions of dollars into our local economy. All of these things are great for Reno but it can cause a bit of a problem for those of us trying to organize smaller events around town. Now, I know that the organization and implementation of putting on this annual event are staggering and I can only imagine the time, effort, and planning that goes along with it. It is truly amazing and they do a fantastic job. But, with that being said, some of the issues an event like this brings to us smaller organizers can be a real pain in the ass and this is where, you the event visitor, can think about using some of that common courtesy and logic to help folks like me, the ones bringing you the events, in giving you the best possible experience.
So in doing a farmers’ market, most often, it is a weekly event and we can get upwards of 1500 people per week but sometimes it’s only a couple hundred shoppers that come out. When we look at a location, parking is always a factor and we try to make it as convenient as possible for not only our guests but also our vendors to be able to get in and out of the venue. Most often, at a farmers’ market, the vendors bring in full sized trucks and vans in order to bring their wares to you and we always try to make sure they can get those vehicles in and out of the venue easily.
We organize a market on Thursday nights at a downtown casino and, most nights, we have access to a great parking lot next to the event. During an event like HAN, as it’s known in shorthand locally, parking is a valuable commodity and the lots that we normally have access to fill up with motorhomes and classic cars along with the trucks and trailers that haul them into town. I arrived at the venue, like I normally do, about an hour before any of the vendors are due to arrive to make certain that everything is ready for them to come in and set up. At this location, we are fortunate in that the casino has put up a huge circus like tent that we have the market in and I have a couple of access points where the vendors can bring their vehicles in and out to set up. At these access points, we have posted “No Parking” signs to let folks know not to park their cars and block these drive ways. Well, when I arrived, I found that my signs had been torn down and these access points had been blocked by trucks and trailers. I was a little frustrated at this turn of events but, with the help of the casino’s employees, we figured out a work a round and created new ways for the vendors to get in. This work a round required us to use barricades and cones to block off a handful of parking spaces and moving a section of fencing so that we could get the vehicles in. We were set, the vendors started to arrive, and with a bit of direction were able to get set up.
So here is where the common courtesy lecture begins. First of all, if and when you go to an event, no matter how large or small, please take into account that you are going to AN EVENT. This generally means that there will be, hopefully if the organizer has done their job, more people than just you there. What this also means is that there will probably be parking issues. No matter how well prepared an organizer is, parking can be a very real issue. So, on behalf of all event organizers out there, I ask you to realize this fact and to take it into account when you go to an event. Do not remove NO PARKING signs or just decide that the signs don’t apply to you and park there. Even if you don’t see the reasons for the signs, trust me when I tell you, there is one. We don’t do it just to inconvenience you or to laugh at you while you struggle to find a place to park. We WANT you at the event. It’s the whole reason we do this. If we didn’t want people there, we wouldn’t be doing this job. Next, do not move any barricades or cones that have been placed to park in a space that is blocked off. Again, you may not see the reason for those “prime” spaces to be blocked off but THERE IS ONE. Yesterday, after we had made those adjustments and blocked off some spaces, I came out to check on the lot and found someone moving the barricades in order to park close to the event. When I confronted them and asked why they would move those barricades, they told me they did it because there was nowhere else to park. F-ING SERIOUSLY? I may have used a bit of a sarcastic tone when I asked them what made them so special and why they thought this was an ok thing to do. Again, their response was that they thought it was fine because there was nowhere else to park. These people thought it was just ok to move BARRICADES so they could park there. Common freaking courtesy people. So then, after I told them there was no parking left in the lot and escorted them out, I decided that the only thing I could do was to stand at the entrance to the parking lot and tell people that the lot was full and, “I’m sorry, but you will have to find somewhere else to park.”, I would say that about 75% of those people I turned away treated me like crap. Telling me where I could go or how they were entitled to park in that lot. I had to remain calm and just tell them that there was physically no room in the lot no matter how entitled they thought they were. I not only had to stand in the hot sun for three hours doing this but it took me away from my event and I could not help where I was really needed.
So last thing, if someone working an event gives you instructions, even if it’s something you don’t want to hear, remember, they are just doing their job. They are trying to make the event go smoothly and have to do what’s best for the event even if that means they are making things a little inconvenient for you. It’s not personal. They aren’t doing it just to be a pain in your ass or to antagonize you. They are doing it for a reason. Please, please, please take that into account and treat them like the hard working person they are. Chances are that they are “stationed” somewhere in the heat or the cold for a whole shift. Sometimes they get to sit down but, most often, they are standing there for their whole shift. They don’t get to just come to the event, have a good time, and go home like you do. Also think about how hard it is to tell person after person something they don’t want to hear and about all of the verbal abuse that is being thrown their way.
Conclusion to this is, be nice and use common courtesy when dealing with all of these people. They really are just trying to do the best job they can to make it an event that you will be happy with and will want to come back to.
Looking forward to your thoughts and comments.