The fundraisers’ blues
Six o’clock. Nothing. I perch, straight-backed with unease, in my wooden chair at my wooden table at an art show in a hotel, and I have sold no tickets.I’ve volunteered to sell tickets tonight from 5:30 to 8:30 to another event, two weeks hence. The inn is playing painful, light pop: George Michael from his Wham! days, a little Janet Jackson, and the sappy Naked Eyes’ “Always Something There to Remind Me.”Every year each family at my children’s school is responsible for selling five tickets to the event, which is cultural and artistic. Unimpeachable, it benefits children and art, and people enjoy it.6:20, 6:30. Nothing.Lots of people buy tickets for this event. They just don’t buy them from me. One of my friends sold 17 her first year. The tickets are a bargain, and can be shared with friends.”I get weak when you’re next to me, weak from this love I’m in deep,” sings Jordan McCoy, “when I look in your eyes.”I love the art event; go every year, taking my philistine sons, who can use an infusion of civilization. We always seem busy, but apparently with sports.”Hello, do you know about _____?” I ask.”Oh, I’ve heard about that,” a man answers, speeding his exit.Some people tighten their faces and walk on, leaving me still talking. 6:47. None, though a number of these good arts-minded folks are interested. However, many are from out of town. Talking much with them, I miss other prospects. I begin to assess, triage; to ask swiftly, “Are you from around here?” A few solitary folks chat at length, and, though welcoming company at my lonely post, I glance around nervously. In the past I have bought my tickets and given them away, and sold tickets to my mother, who, mind you, lives in Maryland. But we recently hit up her and the other grandma for the Ducky Derby to benefit ski club, and will soon tap our neighbors for a class-trip ski-athon.I have before, in the pressurized final days, hawked tickets in front of City Market, or taken my kids there and told them to ask passers-by. It’s their school. While Teddy, 9 when this started five years ago, ventured forth, Roy, then 6, clung frozen at my side. When Teddy complained his brother wasn’t helping, Roy’s voice was so small people proceeded, not noticing.I try someone else, who is quite interested. She lives near Boulder but may return that weekend. I hand her a postcard listing ticket sites.I notice that when anyone is at my table, others tend to stop and listen, so I talk with mad animation to stall them.More and more people sound keen, but the date apparently seems distant. I pass out many postcards.7:25. I say, “Hello, do you know about _____?” and a woman answers, “Yes, I do, all about it,” so firmly that I wonder if she is an organizer, and offended.8:15. I can’t stay extra. I have to fly to North Carolina in the morning.”I’ll come back and buy one tomorrow,” a man says casually. I won’t be here tomorrow. Someone else will. I want to grab his collar and yell into his face, “No! I just told you everything about this! Some. Other. Mother. Is not selling you my ticket!” But that would be crazy.”You take my breath away,” croons Rex Smith.8:30. I pack up, knowing that I will, as per every year, e-mail event information to colleagues and a few friends. I have never sold one ticket this way, either.Boy George sings, “I’ll tumble for ya.”Two weeks later I drive my boys and a card table to City Market, discussing presentation and salient information. They sell two tickets in the first 10 minutes – to people who approached them – and then two more. And the way of our future is suddenly clear.Alison Osius lives in Carbondale and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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