Tuesday, December 28, 2004

More than payola.

One of the absolute best parts of my job is making people happy. All the hard work of planning something truly special for either the host or the honoree is so worth it when I see the look of pure joy on their faces. Or laughing with their friends and family or coworkers. It's really an awesome feeling.

There's always a moment at any gig I work, in which you'll find me in the corner just observing the room. It's the moment when all of the ice has been broken, the gig is in full swing, and people are truly enjoying themselves. Laughing hard. Smiling and hugging, truly happy to be around each other. Sappy, yes. But I really enjoy taking that moment to watch that. I do it to keep my sanity, and to remind myself of why I choose to do this.

This type of job really forces you to connect with people. You have to really get to know who the person is, what they like and what they don't like, what makes up their personality...and then find a way to reflect it within the festivities themselves. It can be quite a challenge when people aren't very forthcoming with their personality, but it's even more rewarding when you do get it right.

Most times, along with the connections come friendships. It's a pretty intimate experience when you plan something that is very special to someone, and there's always a huge base of trust being built along the way. Not to mention all the warm fuzzy feelings. And sometimes the "talking them off the ledge", as you ensure them that everything's going to be fine.

You can't help but build friendships as you sit on their front steps with a bottle of beer after a successful party in which they admit to you things like "that was the first time I've seen my mother-in-law laugh since her husband died" and "who knew my Dad knew all the moves to the Macerena?". Those times always leave me with the "it's worth it" feeling.

These friendships always surprise me though, as they linger on even after their big night is over. They still keep in touch, still tell me what's going on.

I talk about this because during this crazy busy holiday season I spent two evenings with former-clients-turned-friends. One was with the sister of a too-young gentleman who passed away suddenly from a heart attack. One was with a lady who called me on Christmas Eve because she couldn't stand the thought of not spending it with her best friend of 18 years, who had been killed tragically in an automobile accident a month ago. Holiday ups, holiday heartbreak.

There's more I want to say to this, but I'm not thinking clearly right now. I have a meeting in an hour, and as always I'm rushing, rushing, rushing.