Taking off the stabilisers

Saeran Rowland

Faculty: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Category: Staff

28 November 2017

The mornings are darker, my bed is beginning to feel comfier, and the weather is getting colder. To quote one of my favourite houses in Game of Thrones: 'Winter is coming'. And that brings with it a busy line-up of events at the Mumford Theatre.

Though to be honest I say this with much less trepidation than any of the Starks (if you don’t understand my reference, crawl out from whatever cave you dwell in and watch Game of Thrones!). I may sound like a lunatic but I actually like winter, especially the crisp days where the sun is shining and there’s frost in the air, and obviously there’s Christmas to look forward to!

Before all that though, the lead-up to winter has also brought with it a busy line-up of events here at the Mumford Theatre and Ruskin Gallery. The last few weeks have involved a lot of quick turnarounds between various touring shows and exhibitions that we have had in. I’d like to think that I’ve more or less adapted to the fast pace with which things change around here.

I’d also like to think that the busy atmosphere has given me the opportunity to really get stuck in with the Box Office work and build my confidence in the process. I’ve had enough practice using our new system to say that I’m comfortable using it, and I even have a few pre-show Box Office shifts under my belt to add to my growing confidence using the system and serving customers.

I have to admit, having previously worked in retail, I was unsure if I would enjoy working on Box Office because it involves dealing with customers that could potentially be rude (cue nightmarish flashbacks to angry hungry people at Greggs).

Another fear of mine was that, being completely deaf in one ear and partially deaf in my other ear, speaking to people over the phone would be challenging. For the most part I have been deaf long enough that most of the time I barely register it as a problem. The very stubborn side of me particularly hates using it as an excuse for anything that I find difficult to hear, but every now and then a bad phone line is still the bane of my life.

However, these fears and uncertainties have proved to be mostly unfounded when working Box Office, and communicating with customers is usually highly enjoyable (encountering a rude customer seems to be a rare occurrence so far). Some customers generally like to have a little chat, and personally I think that’s part of what makes it so nice, it’s a bit less impersonal, and I appreciate being able to take the time to talk to people. Occasionally I do struggle with my hearing and have to ask for the same sentence to be repeated multiple times, but usually a quick explanation of my hearing loss is enough to placate slightly irritated customers.

Despite my growing confidence working Box Office, I was still a little apprehensive when the opportunity to hold the fort on my own for a couple of days came along. The worrisome questions I kept asking myself were: What if we were busier than usual? What if someone asked a question I couldn’t answer? What if I messed up a payment? What if there was a problem with the system? Each time I worried about one of these questions, I reminded myself that if my manager had faith in me to work Box Office on my own without burning the place down, I should be more confident in myself that I might, in fact, get to the end of the week with the Box Office still standing.

The two days came and went, and, fortunately, nothing catastrophic happened (cue massive exhale of relief). I served customers as I usually do, and I felt grateful for the chance to find out that I could handle most things on my own without getting all panicky. Of course, there were occasionally questions about some of our events that I wasn’t 100% sure I could answer correctly, but I was confident that I could find the answers and respond promptly.  

These last few weeks and those two days in particular have been a massive confidence boost for me, it helped to have the stabilisers taken off my training. It meant that I had proven to myself that I can manage without the safety net of someone to help me.


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