Thursday, July 03, 2008

Coolest. Job. Ever.

To date, my best summer job ever happened the summer in between my freshman and sophomore years of college, back in 1996. That was the year that Atlanta hosted the Olympic Games.

I should probably back up a bit. During my freshman year (well, actually all throughout college), I worked part-time in the box office on campus, selling tickets for all types of theatrical and musical events. We were using a brand-new computer ticket sales program, which certainly wasn't complicated, but not many people in the country had been trained on it.

Turns out that the Olympic ticket sales used that very same computer program, so they sent press releases to every box office across the country using that program, encouraging us to apply to work for the Games.

Well, duh. Of course I jumped at the chance. Who wouldn't?

But the temp agency doing the hiring kept losing my application. Seriously. I had to send it in 4 times, and eventually I made friends with the lady doing the hiring. She made certain to specifically look for my application that 4th time.

Which was a Very Good Thing. Because a slightly different position opened right about then...the Olympic Family Hotel (actually, it was the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta, but during the summer of the Olympic Games they always call the hotel hosting all the foreign dignitaries, IOC members, and VIPs the "Olympic Family Hotel") needed another employee in the IOC Ticketing Office, and the hiring lady noticed on my resume that I spoke French and some Spanish, and that I was majoring in International Relations. So she called me and asked if I'd be interested in working there instead of at one of the venues.

OK, let's think about this. Air conditioning, as close to business attire as you can get in regulation Olympc Games clothing, and access to heads of state and royalty? Hells yeah!

Turns out that the position was in Protocol, which meant that I worked in the unit who made the decisions as to who was higher than someone else, and thus got priority for complimentary access to the most popular sports. For example, President and Mrs. Clinton could walk into any event that they wanted and just show their security badge, and they'd get escorted to the VIP section, no questions asked. But Chelsea had to request her tickets in advance for the most popular events, such as Gold Medal Gymnastics, Basketball, and Swimming. And my office made the determination as to whether she would get them (hint: she always did).

Sometimes they needed additional hostesses at the VIP entrances of events, in which case, I got to work sporting events, not selling tickets, but merely smiling and welcoming the guests. I stood in the VIP section (thus, getting an amazing view of the sports) and showed Jimmy & Mrs. Carter, the King and Queen of Sweden, Prince Albert, or the Gore daughters to their seats.

A really cool perk of my job was that because I was just 19 at the time, most people assumed that I was a volunteer (I wasn't...I actually got paid pretty decent money at the time), so I got every available handout -- free tickets, passes to club openings, food, collectible lapel pins (don't's an Olympic thing...but I once had my Olympic pin collection appraised and it was worth over $600...and I didn't buy a single one), random free stuff from the various bid cities (cities trying to get the 2004 Olympics...I'm one of the few people in the world with a San Juan 2004 t-shirt). You name it.

So yeah. The highlight of my working career came at the age of 19. Really cool at the time, but it just serves to make me feel worse about myself every other summer since, when I'm stuck in a crappy job with little summer vacay. LOL!


  1. Wow! That is the coolest summer job ever. =)

  2. wow. that is an amazing story. How awesome! I am totally jealous.

  3. This has to be the all time kewlest gig ever. A heady job indeed at any age, let alone 19. Too bad, you couldn't do it forever.

  4. Dude. Seriously, that spanks any job I've ever had by FAR.

  5. What an awesome experience you had. You can wow folks with stories from that summer for years to come. I can hear it now. "Grandma, tell us the one about meeting the King and Queen of Sweden." :-)

  6. Awesome. "May I show you to your seat, Mr. President?" is much better than "Would you like paper or plastic?"

  7. Wow.

    Just, seriously, WOW.

    Best. Job. Ever.


  8. Jennifer3:44 PM

    I have to agree that working the '96 Games was the best job I have ever held. Granted, I did not work with diplomats and heads of state. But, I met so many cool people and saw several events for free. And, like you, I am one of the few people in the world with a "San Juan 2004" t-shirt!