Wednesday, May 20, 2009

That's me, informative guy.

We recently lost a staff person at the Artsgarden info desk, and as part of the universal belt-tightening that's everywhere these days, we're not replacing her. So I'm spending a lot more time than usual at the information desk. I answer questions, give directions, and help tourists get to know the city. And I generally have a good time with it.

We've got a running joke that if we had an arrow on a stick, we could use it to answer about half of our questions, from "where's the closest restroom?" to "which way is TJ Maxx?". But the other half of the questions are fun. One of the biggies is, "what can we do in town tonight?", and people are universally impressed with the answers. Indy has a lot happening, and I like directing people to the live music and dancing and theatre and art galleries that Indy has to offer. I like selling people on our arts and cultural scene. I like telling people about the good non-chain restaurants downtown. I like talking about the free performances we host here in the Artsgarden. Indy is a great city, and I enjoy being able to talk up our good points for visitors.

My evenings at the info desk keep me informed about what's new in town, too. I start the shift by looking up all the live music in town and checking the performance schedules for shows. And, after having done this for a while, I've gotten to know a lot about downtown -- what's where, when it's open, how much it costs. I know where all the drugstores are and when they're open, I know where to buy a shirt with a picture of Monument Circle. And I know the closest Starbucks is in the Hyatt, though I'm always happy to tell people they should go to the South Bend Chocolate Company instead; the coffee's better, they've got killer hot chocolate and good ice cream, and you'll never have a better mocha.

And I like sounding knowledgeable -- it's practically a hobby. The first time someone asks me a question, I generally have to do some digging for an answer. But, the second or third time someone asks me an obscure question, I sound like a genius. I got to do this over the weekend; for some reason, I had a lot of people asking me about comedy clubs. The first guy who asked sent me to the internet for answers. But the third through fifth guys were extremely impressed when I knew who was playing where, all the showtimes, and all the prices, off the top of my head. One group said I was like the information desk guy in Airplane!, which is a funny and flattering comparison. No questions about cheetahs or orgasms yet, though....

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