The Fourth of July
月曜日, 7月 04, 2005
Happy Fourth of July, everyone!
And as much as I miss my family at home on holidays in particular, and even though I had to work, this was a pretty good Fourth! Well, seeing as this year is pretty much one big Fourth of July for us, working at the United States Pavilion and all...given that, I felt that I had to step it up a bit for the holiday. That and I'm a pretty patriotic person and I really do start genuinely thinking how fortunate I am to be an American, and I'm proud of it. (Though not at all in the same way that right wingers are "proud to be an American"....) Anyway. So yeah, I had been thinking for the past few days that I'd come in on the Fourth (since we had to work AM shift) and sign up for X-ray! That's become one of my favorite positions, which is interesting considering how much I hated it at first. And it all comes down to one thing: the MICROPHONE. Muahahaha.
Oh yes. I love the microphone. It's hooked up to a speaker that blasts everything I say in Japanese or English to the entire queue, a wonderful captive audience of people who are intrigued by anything our exotic American selves have to say. Okay, maybe not that much, but we still act as though it's so. And then again, sometimes it IS quite obviously so.
So I got to work and got out my denshi jisho (er, that means electronic dictionary, remember; it's one of those Japanese words that I just use as though it's standard English, like shinkansen or keitai) and started looking up words I'd need to know in order to tell people that today was Independence Day -- or, in other words, America's birthday, because the Declaration of Independence ("dokuritsu sengen") was signed on July 4, 1776, and that in the US on the Fourth we go to parades and picnics and see fireworks. One lady even asked me that before I could do my speech for her particular queue time so I guess they really were interested!
But it gets better. So I'm out there with a microphone shouting down Global Common 2 for people to come to the US Pavilion because today was 独立記念日 ("dokuritsu kinen bi," Independence Memorial Day), and people are coming, and it was surprising how many people already knew that; a few people had even dressed up for the event, wearing little American flags; one lady wore a red shirt with stars on it and pointed out that she wore this just because she already knew it was America's Independence Day! So cool that so many of them knew our national holiday already, and that they cared about it! So cool. And by ten after eleven, I think seven people had already come up and told me it was their birthday too -- one lady even had a copy of her passport to prove it! So I told them happy birthday and said how cool it was that they shared a birthday with America. I talked about how America was 229 years old today, and how that's old, for a person anyway, but then if it's a country it's not really old at all; that compared to Japan, America's really young. They generally nodded in understanding with that.
But it gets still better! So I decided that my little announcement about the Fourth of July added to my regular X-ray spiel about the pavilion's contents and the metal detectors was not good enough. I decided we needed to do something more celebratory. Soooo...I decided to sing! Patriotic songs! Hahaaa! Outside of a karaoke box I certainly have never sang with a microphone before in front of a large group of people. But today I did! It was all up to me and I had a captive audience and a microphone, and I decided to use it. So much fun! I was only going to do it a bit in the morning, trying to get people to actually come across the Global Common and get in line in the first place. But it got such a good reaction! People applauded! And cheered! And started clapping along with some of the songs! And the other guides got into it! None of them wanted to sing, but they sure cheered me on. :D And then other pavilion staff, like Chica who's supercool, and Tip and Bernard and Michelle, they all came out and said various positive things -- Michelle seemed really pleased and wanted to make sure I was doing okay (haha, all that energy I was putting out ^_~) but also to see if I was still singing, which made me smile, yay! And then even the security guards who run the metal detectors, who speak Japanese to us which I don't always understand, called me over and said ジェシーさんの歌うのは上手ですね！ ("Jessie, you're so good at singing!") I said not at all. They continued, お客様が本当に喜びます！ ("The guests are really enjoying it!" A more literal translation is that they are rejoicing. Yaaaay! I made customers rejoice! :D) And then I just went ahead and said thank you very much, because that made me very happy to hear that they apparently had heard from customers that they were enjoying hearing me sing. :D
And I know I really don't have a particularly noteworthy voice; I mean, I'm not bad I suppose, but I'm also not great. I'm one of those people at karaoke who you don't tease because of a bad voice, and I've gotten a couple comments on nice singing which have always meant a lot to me (most recently last weekend when Julia said so, she's so sweet!) but at the same time I'm never going to be invited to do any solos and people in general are not usually impressed. So yeah, pretty solidly average as far as singing goes; the only thing I have going for me is that I like to sing and am not embarassed to do so. A few people today on our staff said I had a nice voice too, which was really sweet! Though then after I was singing, a couple Americans came up and one said "Can my friend sing the national anthem?" and I said "sure, go for it!" and gave her the mike, and wow, she was good. I think she might have been professional; in any case she had definitely been trained to sing the national anthem. After her singing, I definitely let the queue go through a full cycle so no one remained in line who had heard her sing before I sang again. ;) But more than that I was thrilled to have gotten a real good singer to sing for us through my actions, that was so cool.
And let me just say, singing our national anthem is hard. That thing has quite a range. During the "o'er the land of the freeeeeeeee" part, my voice cracked at one point and I paused and said "ちょっと高過ぎる！" ("It's a little too high!" Or at least that's what it literally means; I don't know if it has the same musical meaning in Japanese, but I think they got the idea) but then I went straight on and finished it, and the whole crowd laughed at that point anyway, so that just made it even more fun for me. I don't care if I'm not perfect! I'm having a good time! :D I was almost disappointed that I couldn't get anyone else to sing (though Cynthia did do a little bit with me at least ^^) but then, I guess then I would have had to share the spotlight so it was okay with me to be the really genki happy one for the day, too. ;) I just love holidays and getting into them, and I do love the Fourth of July so. You just have to make these days special. At least I do, because I care. I told everyone in line that I don't sing at all on ordinary days but that this was a special day so let's all sing American songs! ;) How lucky for all of them. *grin*
So what did I sing? I had Cynthia and Matt and Shan and various other people trying to help me come up with more songs at various points. I of course did "The Star Spangled Banner" several times, and then "America the Beautiful," which was definitely my favorite one to sing. And then I realized I did know all the words to "God Bless America," mostly from Memorial Day ceremonies in my hometown I think, and then I also did "Yankee Doodle" and "This Land is Your Land" and "My Country, Tis of Thee" and "When the Saints Go Marching In" once or twice...I think that was it. Oh, and I did start "O Canada" twice too, but never did much of it -- one time was a joke to see if the Japanese customers were paying attention, and then I said "oops, wrong country, you should go to the Canada Pavilion if you want to hear that one!" and then the other time I was joking that I knew our national anthem from watching too many hockey games, and therefore I also knew the Canadian one. ;) OH! And how could I forget? I also sang "Happy Birthday" many times! And I got the queue to sing along with me a few times too! (I did "you look like a monkey and you smell like one too" once too, hehe. That was a request from another guide. ;) But yeah, it was fun to sing the happy birthday song and then explain why I was doing it, and then everyone would clap or groups of elementary schoolers would get all excited. Several people came up and said "happii bassuday America!" to me, and they seemed to really mean it, like they were very excited to be there on such a special day. :D
What a thing to do for the Fourth of July, really...being in another country getting people who aren't even Americans all excited for our country's birthday. :D So cool. Yay! (I love days when I get to overuse those two short sentences. *grin*)
And here is the icing on the cake. I was just having fun with this and the guests seemed to be too. I thought I might have been annoying some of the other guides actually (but then as I think Matt pointed out, I wasn't supposed to be entertaining the other guides; I was supposed to be entertaining the queue!) but then when it came time for debriefing at the end of the day...well, we have this new Ops end of shift report thingy, and there is a question on it about who was the outstanding guide of the shift and why. Matt brought up on his own that he thought one thing that was a "done good" (as Mr. Mike our security guy puts it) today was Jessie and her singing, and how she really got into the whole holiday thing and "made sure that every guest who came through knew what day it was," and then Shan (who was Ops today) said "yeah, that's the next question on the sheet, I was going to make Jessie guide of the day, anyone opposed?" and no one said anything opposed and everyone said "yes, she's guide of the day!" Which made me feel all warm and squishy inside. *grin* Yaaaay! I love the other guides. They make me happy. Everyone seemed to think my enthusiasm was infectious, yay, and it made the best kind of impression. I am glad to be the guide who even one person might one day remember belting out the Star Spangled Banner at the Expo on the Fourth of July and having a really darn good time doing it and making other people smile too.
Well. That's my Independence Day story. I hope you enjoyed it. I know I did. :)