Staying on the Ride
19 Mar, 2011
by Julie Ferris
It’s such a surreal feeling to interview your replacement. Sure, I’m being a bit dramatic—I’m not interviewing them and when I took the job, I knew I’d eventually be replaced but there’s nothing I have to like about it.
Well, I do like the tension I felt walking into the meeting room at the Pfister as I was about to comment on and discuss the many applicants for the next Narrator position knowing the same discussions had included me just months ago. My vow was to say very little (you should know, that’s always my vow, it rarely works) and listen long, but I found I was so excited to talk about what I liked, the ideas that circulated among the applicants and to carefully detect how it worked last time with me on the table in a pile of paper instead of in the chair casting votes that I’m sure I reached “vehement” at certain points.
Most of the applications covered the required bases, but I did learn something from the unique portions of each. I learned that there’s so much I’m taking with me and so much I’m leaving out. I was interviewed for a video blog piece as part of the process and when asked what advice I would give the next Narrator and the words flew from my mouth. Have no expectations. All the narrators proposed a plan, had ideas for how they’d get people to talk, which stories they were in search of and I realized my plan has already been shattered—for the better.
For every person I do approach or who sits down next to me, many times, there were three behind them with tales just as interesting. Every blog I’ve written about dancing daughters and Santa lap-sitting grandmothers and celebrities was reduced to 400 words and I’m walking away with the rest of the story. What I’ve given here and what I’m taking with me differ vastly and that’s one of the only parts of my proposal that has stuck.
They asked me what I hoped to get. I told them I wanted to be talking about this experience forever. Mission accomplished. I know I understood the undertaking and I’m here to tell you, our top six finalists for the job understand it too. They all wrote about what they hope to find in the guests they share space with at the Pfister. They all had an eagerness and openness about how they’d capture it and report it. Most of all, they each seemed to want it for themselves. They all (myself included) wanted to seek out the people, seek out the histories, the feelings, the human connection that comes with just sharing a moment with people.
Just the other day, leaving the hotel, I was on the elevator with a pair of women who didn’t get off when the door opened at what I thought was their floor. I smiled toward them and shuffled aside to give them room to exit when one in the pair begrudgingly said “No, sorry. We don’t know where we’re headed; we just like to ride the elevator.” Without even thinking that it was just a polite joke that people make to be social (a lot like the “I’m doing well, thank you” standard answer to “Hello, how are you?”) I instantly replied, completely seriously “Oh, I know! I love riding the elevator. I’ve met some fun people here! Stay on, you’ll like it!”
And as the doors closed after my exit, I wondered…did the pair think I was nuts or did they get it?
Be excited…any one of the six finalists for narrator gets it. I rest assured of that.