Tonight I volunteered at New York Road Runners to assist in number pickup for the NYRR race on Sunday. NYRR makes everyone volunteer once a year in order to qualify for automatic entry into New York marathon (if you also run 9 qualifying races). I am unclear why they imposed this requirement ( I can be cynical and think it is to reduce costs or altruistic and make runners have a better understanding of the process and logistics.) But tonight was my once a year (and it sure beat last year -- clapping in the cold in November for 6 hours beginning at 5:30 a.m.
At any rate, now that I have been on the other side of the table, I offer some tips I learned tonight.
1. Speak your name SLOWLY. I am in my 40s, but still able to process people's names. But I am not writing them down. And I really don't remember anything beyond the first two letters -- at first. So, say your name, and repeat it SLOWLY. Please be patient. This is not rocket surgery, but on the other hand, I have never met you, have no idea what your name is and really, it is kinda confusing when you tell me your last name is Zihuatanejo and start Z-I-H-U. . . So, please, slowly.
2. Speak loudly. It is crowded. In a crowed room, with other people picking up numbers next to you. So please speak so I can hear.
3. Smile, please. I am volunteering, as a service to you, and I enjoy the company of my fellow runners. It makes my time go quicker to smile and be smiled at. So, I know you are in a hurry, but remember, this is all about fun.
I worked for about three hours, and am pleased to say that I did not meet a single rude person. By far and away the vast majority of people were friendly, patient and understanding, (even if they spoke too fast).
Now that I have written these things, it occurs to me that they apply about the way I interact with a lot of people in a lot of jobs and roles. So, I'll be more patient and friendlier.
And have a great race! (That was our improvised send off to everyone as they walked away.)