An Inability to Follow Directions

I’m beginning to wonder whether the people visiting the expo all carry a gene that renders them incapable of following even the simplest of directions.  When I’m working the queue line and I say “go to Line 2,” for some odd reason they ALL go to Line 1. No matter that Line 2 has absolutely no people in it and that Line 1 is already full, they will still go to Line 1. Regardless of what I say. In fact, they will look back at me and smile apologetically, knowing they should go to Line 2…but they just don’t feel like it. Because everyone else is going to Line 1, so they do too.

The guard who also works the queue and I have made a game of it. Rather than trying to fight the stubbornness, we let them all follow each other to the same line. (The USA Pavilion has 6 lines, which all go to the exact same place at the exact same time, so it really does not matter which line they take). After they all decide to fill up one line, we run over and shout, “quick, quick, there is no one in the line next to you! You should all go to that line, it is so much quicker! Why did you all come to this one?” And so all at once, the waiting visitors, umbrellas and all, will start ducking and diving under the metal dividers and flinging themselves into the shorter turnstile entrance….which of course means it is no longer the shorter line because they all switched over and now the line they were originally in has fewer people in it. Oh well, we tried.

And it happens in Act III as well!

Act III is where we hand out the little cell phone charms to people who text “CARE” to the Johnson & Johnson number.  I suppose that’s the company’s way of raising awareness? But everyone has a very difficult time figuring out how to do this, despite the fact that the directions are on a huge sign right above my head: “text ‘CARE’ to this number and show the response text to a volunteer to receive a prize.” (and before you ask, yes, the directions are in Chinese too). Instead, they stick out their hands and say GIVE ME, GIVE ME as soon as they spy the cute little charms. Thank goodness we have a small area cordoned off so they can’t mob us and our cell phone charms. When we politely tell them they need to use their cell phone to send a text message before we can give them the prize, they will stick their arm out with their phone in their hand. Look, look, I have a phone, so give me a prize!

Then they are the people who don’t know the difference between a camera and a cell phone and think showing me their camera will get them a prize… I don’t really try to explain that one to them. In fact, I’ve had people take a picture of the sign, yes the sign with the rules on it, and think showing me that photo, on their camera, will win them the prize. I have to explain that I need to see a text message, not a photograph of the rules. And for the ones who do figure out how to send the text message, some of them try to show me a draft of the message they haven’t sent yet. Sneaky, sneaky.

After all this, once they successfully send the text, they are supposed to wait one minute for a response text to show me. I cannot give them the prize until I see the response text so, of course, they all yell- “I haven’t received a response text! My phone is broken! This isn’t working! Just give me the prize!” …. (Side note, the response text takes less than 2 minutes to receive). Now, I wouldn’t mind explaining this to a few elderly people who don’t understand text messaging, but it gets quite tedious when I have to answer the same questions  to every single person. It goes something along these lines:

1. I can’t just give you one, you need to use your phone.

2. No, I can’t just look at your phone, you have to actually use it to send a text.

3. No, that is a camera, not a phone.

4. No, you just took a photo of me…that wasn’t a text message.

5. Ok yes, that is your phone but you still haven’t sent it yet.

6. Ok yes, I see that you sent it. No, I can’t give it to you yet, I have to see the response text, just wait a minute.

7. Yes, I promise you will receive a response text. No, you are not the one person in this entire room who is not going to receive a response test, just wait a moment.

8.  Yes, I see the response text. Here you go. No, you may not have two.

9.  I don’t care if you have three children, you may not have two.

10. No, the elderly lady cannot have one either.

***Alternate excuses include my phone is dead, I don’t have texting, I don’t know how to text, my fingers are tired.***

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