Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hired for THE IDEAL job in Music City!

Today was my fifth work day (for pay) on my new job. After an A.D. 2010 of self-employment (pure commission & no withholding for Uncle Sam) and unemployment, to have ANY employment with a regular income is most deeply appreciated. But THIS particular line of work is truly a God-send!

You see, I'm once again guiding tours of the Grand Ole Opry House!

In the late 1990s I went from being a part-time or seasonal ticket seller, to Tour Coordinator at Grand Ole Opry Tours. One element of that position was guiding tours of the House -- the tour company's only walking tour.

And now I'm doing this again, with some alteration. For one, we begin the tour to the right of the central lobby with a six-minute video introduction to the Show and the House. And of course I knew, from the first Saturday last October, when 4,000 others and I took the free tour of the newly reopened House, that the backstage and to a lesser degree other areas, had been greatly improved in appearance. In fact, the Great Flood (May 2010) and the astounding and amazingly rapid restoration of the House are featured in the video. Plus, in the Green Room a metal strip we call Guests' attention to displays how high the floodwater rose.

But I very quickly learned this revised tour, and indeed this past Wednesday, my third day of work/training, got to conduct my first tour. afterward I asked the "veteran" Tour Guide how I did and she replied that I was wonderful! So perhaps I shouldn't have been so surprised at what occurred at week's end.

When I clocked-in late Fri. afternoon, after battling Nashville's notorious Fri. going-home "rush" hour traffic, I was expecting to do whatever assigned tasks I'd be given while the Friday Nite Opry Show took place, then "shadow" or assist & learn the Post-Show Tour with an experienced Guide. And yes, I did spend some time scanning tickets at the Opry House front door and then guiding Guests to their seats in the auditorium.

But before I got started, my Lead informed me that I'd be doing a VIP Tour. I'd heard of these, but not much more than the term. This involved contacting a small group of Guests, in this instance six, at the seats as Intermission was ending, to escort them to backstage, to Dressing Room #1, which once served the late Roy Acuff, the "King of Country Music" and one of the "Four Pillars of the Grand Ole Opry". There they got to enter and meet for a few personal moments and a few photo shots with no less than Vince Gill! Afterward I took them on an abbreviated version of the regular backstage tour, so they could see the Green Room, other dressings rooms (each decorated to a theme) and the Opry House post office. Then I took them back to their seats so they could enjoy the rest of the show – including Vince, who "hosted" the final half hour.

When that final half hour and the show ended I was back in the lobby area to guide a group of Guests on a backstage tour. The Post-Show Tour is pretty much like the regular tour, except we skip the introductory video. After all, they've just enjoyed the Fri. Nite Opry Show and hardly need a six-minute explanation, not even by Carrie Underwood. But the BIG diference in the Post-Show is that things are still busy backstage, and some of the stars are fixing to leave. Thus, my group ran into Craig Morgan, and shortly afterward Vince! Both men graciously delayed their exit for pix and autographs. That's the way Country Music artists are, especially those who belong to the Opry family!

The next day (sat. the 19th) during a break between tours I went to the box office to inquire about groups rates and minimum numbers. And to my great surprise ran into Lisa Minix! She trained me on the computerized sales-cash register system when I first sold tickets at Opryland back in 1991! What a delight to see her again! We couldn't stop hugging each other.

Therefore yestereve's Grand Ole Opry Show carries special meaning for yours truly. Y'all come to the tour and show now, ya hear?