All the newsworthy people have pretty much left Charlotte, or will soon. But like with all big events, there’s a group of people that sort of filters in under the radar, yet without them there could be no events like this – the Volunteers. My guess is there are still hundreds of them now doing the clean-up part of the week.
I met one of them while I waited for the train home last Monday. I told her how much I enjoyed CarolinaFest and thanked her for the great job all the Volunteers were doing. She seemed a bit embarrassed but genuinely appreciated the praise.
When the train arrived, she, and another Volunteer, found seats and I happened to stand behind them. Even after her shift, (we were leaving about 3:30 in the afternoon), she was glowing with excitement for the opportunity to be a part of the convention. “I have to catch the train at 5:30 in the morning, but it’s worth it!”
Both she and the other Volunteer explained how they’d signed up over a year ago and were 2 of over 2000 Volunteers from all over. They didn’t get to decide where they worked, but they did have choices. Both tried to vary their options so they’d see and participate in as much as they could.
She pulled her schedule from her credentials badge. It had obviously been folded and refolded several times. “Last night I worked hospitality for one of the Delegate receptions, the one at The Mint Museum. I don’t remember all the states that were at that one, except Hawaii – because there was a really tall man and he came wearing a grass skirt!” Her laugh didn’t have a trace of fatigue in it.
For those of you who don’t read The Charlotte Observer, I think the DNC organizers did a pretty cool thing for the Delegates. Instead of having one large reception, they divided the Delegates into 12 groups by states, and had 12 parties around Charlotte in different venues with different menus. And no, I didn’t intentionally rhyme that 🙂 Here is a quick run-down of where the parties were held:
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
Carolina Raptor Center
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
Harvey B. Gantt Center of African-American Arts & Culture
Historic Rosedale Plantation
Levine Museum of the New South
Mint Museum Uptown
NASCAR Hall of Fame
U.S. National Whitewater Center
Charlotte has some wonderful places to visit and what a way to showcase all of them while all eyes were on her.
Besides Hawaii, Delegates from Illinois, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Ohio attended the reception at The Mint Museum. My Volunteer went on to describe an item from the menu-fried pigs’ ears. I asked if they were really pigs’ ears or just something that looked like them. “Oh no! They were real ears. They were sliced real thin and crispy.” She drew out the word ‘real’ and made a slicing motion. “They had a hint of sweetness, an Asian Infusion. They were very good.” She looked like she was tasting and enjoying them all over again.
“Thursday I have the best job.” She did another unfold of her schedule and tapped the map showing the Bank of America Stadium. “Thursday night I get to usher for the President’s speech.” This petite African-American woman sat a few inches taller when she said, ‘the President’s.’ There was respect in her voice, her smile couldn’t have been bigger or her eyes any brighter.
Her stop was two before mine. As she stood she wished me a blessed day and said, “I have to get home, 5:30 comes early!” Then she slipped into the mass exiting the train. Oh, I forgot to mention, this perky Volunteer was 71 years old.
I was heartbroken when I heard that due to the weather President Obama’s acceptance speech was moved indoors. My first thought was for this lovely lady and I hoped she was one of the lucky ones who still got to do the best job.
I’ve watched the news this week and I saw what everyone else saw – the protestors, the grumbling, the analysis. But those aren’t the stories I saw my day in Charlotte. Or maybe I just wasn’t looking for them.
And I saw some places in Uptown Charlotte I can’t wait to take the train and go see again! Thanks for taking this ride with me.