Archive for March 31st, 2008

Treat Me Courteously? I’ll Be Your SLAVE!

Monday, March 31st, 2008

On one particular Saturday night, the band was in place and ready to begin. But, before the guests arrived, the hostess wanted us to know – in no uncertain terms – a few important details.

We were lectured (no other term applies) on what we would play, how loudly we would play it, when and where we were to spend our intermissions (so as to keep our cooties away from the guests), and what we could and could not eat or drink. The specificity with which our hostess harangued us told me that previous bands, at previous parties, had behaved unprofessionally. In doing so, they had offended our boss. So she wasn’t making suggestions, because these weren’t requests. They were orders.

The trouble was – we weren’t those other bands. We were innocent. And it’s hard to put on a happy face, when someone has just read you the Riot Act.

Fortunately, we made it through the next four hours without arousing any additional ire in our hostess. But it was a tough, tense night.

Now – contrast that job with what I experienced yesterday: I was hired to play for the anniversary luncheon of a suburban church. Before I could even unload my keyboard, a church member volunteered to show me the easiest way into the fellowship hall and hold the door open for me. (I gratefully accepted his invitation.) Once inside, another parishoner offered to take me through the buffet line before the congregation arrived from the 11AM service. (I declined, but was – again – grateful.) Then the treasurer handed me my check, before I’d even finished unpacking (and now, my gratitude knew no bounds!)

In short, by the moment I hit my first note, these people of uncommon common courtesy had made me their slave. There was no request they could have made that I would have refused. I came home positively glowing from the experience.

Fortunately, in my career I’ve run into more of the Sunday-type folks than the Saturday night grinches. This has not only been to my benefit – it’s been to theirs. Any Pro who is worthy of the name can’t help but bring more to the parties where they have been treated with respect. Thus, everybody wins.

Does this mean that a hostess can’t have a frank heart-to-heart talk with me regarding her concerns? Absolutely not! I’m simply saying that the time to discuss those issues is when hiring a band, not just before they begin playing (and also, not in an inappropriately accusatory manner.)

Courtesy is a wonderful thing – it costs nothing, yet yields rich dividends.