Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year.

Another decade has gone by. It has been the most eventful in my life so far. It really is amazing how much can be packed into ten years, and just like that, they're gone. It reminds me of how short and special life is.

I spent New Years Eve in a new way for myself. I was the "coat-check guy" (as I became known) in the VIP section of a party. My friend owns a lovely restaurant in town, and was kind enough to hire me to help at this large scale event. Having never been very good at quick math, I was a bit nervous when I learned that I would be in charge of the money at my station. Of course, it's not that hard to add and subtract, but when you have people in droves handing-no practically throwing their coats at you for an hour and a half, it can be a bit nerve wracking! It all worked out fine, and my room didn't lose a single coat. Phew!

When things had calmed down, I had time to sit and reflect while I people-watched. I confess, I was a bit lonely sitting by myself looking at people enjoying themselves, but I kept thinking, "Keep your eye on the prize, Matthew. This may not your New Years celebration, but it is your new year." I'm making a change-a huge one. I wonder if that's going to be a tradition? Every ten years, change. I think I like that. I like ten year chunks of time. It's an even number and it goes well with my self diagnosed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

A few of the party goers interactions with me really caught my attention. Early on, one gentleman thanked me "for doing this tonight." A couple others were concerned if I would get to have "a real toast." Another even poured me some of her champagne to make sure. It was kind of these people to acknowledge me and the fact that I too am a person. I had to giggle a bit on the inside though because while they seemed to be pitying me, it was my choice to be there! And, I was happily taking their money!

To me, it just goes to show how much we take people for granted. I didn't see a single guest in that room who I knew and as far as I know, no one knew who I am/was. I don't mean that to sound snobbish, but it's true! As long as I'm in Kansas City, a large part of my identity is defined by being a member of the Kansas City Ballet. I was on stage less than a week before performing in front of thousands, and now I was taking coats.

I have always tried to be cognisant of people in positions of service. Being one of them myself, I find it interesting to see how poorly people treat others especially when they think they are above them. Personally, I find joy in taking people's coats, in waiting tables, in serving others. Honestly, I find more joy in the reflective time afterwards, because during it can be stressful, but I know this will get easier with time.

No matter what my job is at the moment, I want to be the best at it that I can be-no matter if I'm on stage or in a coat check room. It was humbling to realize yet again how much my tiny ounce of "fame" is fleeting, but it was still ok. My mind was focused, my senses were sharp, and I felt proud to play my part in a different kind of cast on a different type of stage. Trust me, if I find myself staying in that "company" for a while, I'll work my way up the ladder just as I have in my current profession. That's not ego speaking. It's just me knowing my own drive and potential.

I had a great New Years Eve. Perhaps it was "My" New Years celebration after all.


  1. It is amazing the peaceful rush that comes with being a service provider. I've only done it for brief stints myself but have always found it to be challenging yet rewarding. Thank you for this blog which reminds me that being the house manager, waiter, usher, or coat check is a valid and rewarding position. Happy New Year and Cheers- I toast you with a glass of soda to your glass of Champagne! :o)