Star Tours! aka More Orientation February 19, 2010Posted by Conventioneering in Uncategorized.
So today I… didn’t do much actually. Mostly, I did touristy museum things.
Basically, the idea is that everyone who works at the museum needs to know something about it. So first, I was taken around by the floor manager to all the different stores and the different areas of the museum, then again by one of the main sales people to some of the behind the scenes areas. First, of course, down to the stock room, the mail room, the lockers and the break room. This area is, like most behind the scenes areas, a stark contrast to the main floor. Where the main floor of the museum is a bright, open, airy realm that makes you feel as though you could soar, the back rooms are small and cramped with no windows. I wonder if they’re actually bombproof. I wouldn’t be surprised. One of the ways in involves going down a somewhat sketchy freight elevator with ominous clanging doors. I always feel like some kind of astronaut or super secret agent going in that way.
I don’t have my own locker yet, and I probably won’t get one. I need to get a combination lock anyway, so that I can lock up my laptop.
After my first tour, I was sent back to the offices to get my security badge – awesome! The badge is how I get into the building, how I get my discounts, and a nifty piece of bling. I’m staff. That’s kind of cool, in its own way.
After that, I was given a second tour. This time I was shown the other employee-only areas. First, I was taken down to the parking lot. It’s free on weekends, but $8 the rest of the time. I’ll probably never use it. Also in the same area were the shipping office, the security office, where the health office used to be, and something called the “stress lab”. My guide knew neither the new location of the health office, nor what the “stress lab” actually was. Presumably, it’s something for testing stress. Hmm. She also mentioned that there was a weight room down there, probably, but she’d never seen it. I’m not going to worry about it, I only get a fifteen minute break and a forty-five minute break anyway, not enough time to do anything in a weight room.
Then we went upstairs to the third floor. I’d always known that there were trees on the roof of the NASM, I’d just never realized that it was an entire employees-only floor. It’s much nicer up there than the basement bunker where the sales associates are – corporate, sure, but clean, and blessed with huge windows. There’s two outdoor terraces with tables and chairs (useless at present as they’re under about two feet of snow) and an employees-only cafeteria. It’s a nice place to go when the main floor crowds get to be too much.
Next I was instructed to go watch a planetarium show, Journey to the Stars. It was interesting enough – some of Whoopi Goldberg’s narration came off as a little childish, but that’s to be expected – it’s a show for the public, it has to appeal to both children and adults. The information wasn’t really anything I didn’t already know, but the presentation was magnificent. The Einstein Planetarium isn’t your ordinary planetarium with static stars – it’s a genuine Imax-like experience displayed on the dome ceiling. The show had a wonderful sensation of flying through the stars, which was really very cool. As it happened, the girl I was sitting next to was an employee of the Spy Museum there on her break and an astronomy nut to boot. She informed me that the image of the galaxy used in the film was, in fact, outdated – the multi-spiral model as opposed to the modern two-spiral model. She had to leave though, and I had to go back to talk to my supervisor.
After that, I went back to the break room, where they told me I had forty-five minutes for lunch from the time I swiped my timecard out. I hadn’t packed my own lunch that day as I wanted to know what the facilities were like at NASM, so I clocked out, sprinted upstairs and literally ran down to the National Museum of the American Indian to get my lunch at the Mitsitam café. The Mitsitam café is excellent, and though expensive it’s totally worth sprinting two blocks and fighting the line for lunch. I had chicken tamales with peanut sauce and then blue potatoes with a yellow mustard-egg sauce on the side. Delicious. Of course, I had to run to get back in time, but dude, tamales!
Then I was told to go on one of the free guided tours of the main exhibits in the museum. We hit the highlights: the Wright Flyer, the Spirit of Saint Louis, Amelia Earhart’s plane, the various lunar modules, and the Lunar Lander, as well as some more obscure stuff, like the Vin Fiz plane.
Back to the break room again! I was given my 15 minute break, which I used to start writing this post, which drew attention from everyone in the room. I type very fast – a hundred and thirty words per minute – and I have a bad habit of banging the keyboard and generally making a lot of noise (this once almost got me thrown out of a theater – but that’s another story).
After that, I went to watch an Imax movie, Space Station 3D. This was… a mistake. The film itself is excellent, using 3D footage of the space station to show what life aboard is like, but unfortunately for me, 3D movies make me motion sick. I left with the conflicting feeling of both utter faith in humanity thanks to seeing Russians, Japanese, Canadians, Italians, and Americans all chilling in the name of Science, and a horrible nausea that made the whole place spin.
Finally, I got to actual work. Unfortunately, I don’t get trained on the registers yet (I’m not actually sure when that happens), but I did get to learn how the dog tag printing machine works. Basically, people hand me an envelope with whatever they want written on it (so long as it fits on three lines, 15 characters per line), I enter it into a computer, and bam! Two dog tags printed. I got to test the machine once, and the lady told me to put whatever I wanted on them. In typical me fashion, this means that I put down “Starscream, Air Commander, RDAF” (the latter standing for Royal Decepticon Air Force).
Everything went great, we got one woman to sign up for a membership, and then right before closing this Brazilian guy showed up and ordered twenty tags. Wow!
Before you all get some crazy ideas about life at NASM being all fun and games and tours, keep in mind that this is just my first day. I need to know the layout of the museum, and, eventually, I’m going to have to work for real. Also consider that I walked around the entire museum a total of three times – my feet are killing me.
And now it’s almost eleven and I’m kind of exhausted. More tomorrow! Though probably, once I get into the swing these posts will come only once a week.