Saturday, January 4, 2014

Packet Prep for WDW Marathon Weekend

Today, we got to do something at Disney that wasn't going to the parks and wasn't running – we volunteered to do some prep work for the upcoming WDW Marathon weekend.

If you volunteer at any ESPN Sports / runDisney event, you get a “point” for each hour that you work (excluding AT the races).  Once you get 16 points, you get a park ticket, good at ONE park for ONE day.  Cool!  I recently discovered how much I like to volunteer at races, so thought that this would be fun.  Originally only I signed up for this day, but Hubby and The Kiddo wanted to come along too, so I asked if they could join in and the Volunteer Coordinator was fine with that.

So, we drove down to the ESPN Wide World of Sports early Saturday a.m. to do “Packet Prep.” We had no idea what the job entailed, so we put on our name tags and walked in with open minds.

Fancy name tag
Our first task was to stuff gEAR bags with the Dopey Challenge shirts – this included a 5k shirt, 10k shirt, ½ Marathon shirt, Marathon shirt and special Dopey Challenge shirt.  While we started doing this, someone brought in Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, Munchkins and HOT CHOCOLATE! Oh, thank you stranger for caring for us non-coffee-drinkers! Yummy!

We were at a table with a few other volunteers, who were veterans at this. We chatted amicably about kids, school and all the other chit-chat that strangers do to pass the time.

Time passed quickly because it didn't seem like we were there for long before it was already lunch time! I had worried about this originally, because of our tight budget, but it turned out that they were going to feed us, too! They brought in Disney-made pizzas and water bottles. Alan (I think that was his name) from our table said that in years past, there had been boxed sandwich lunches, but people complained about that (why?) so they did pizza this year. Honestly, I think I would've preferred a sandwich – it has much more protein than pizza. Oh, well. It is FREE, which saved us $30 for dinner later.

Pizza time!
After lunch, we moved on to the next task – putting together envelopes of the commemorative pins, necklaces, and various Retreat bracelets that people had purchased in advance, for the Goofy and the Dopey challenges.  There was a set of long tables, with one person at each “station” (1/2 Marathon Pin station, 5k station, etc.).  One person at the beginning of the table would pass a 9x12 envelope that had a list stapled to it to the first person. If the first person had an item that should be in the envelope, they would put it in (i.e. “this person ordered a 5k pin”) – if not, they would pass it to the next person, creating an assembly line.

Left side was doing Goofy; Right side was doing Dopey
When the envelope got to the end of the assembly line, a few people were to verify that what was in the envelope matched what was on the list, then pass it back to the alphabetizers behind them, who would place the envelopes in order, from A to Z.

This all sounds pretty simple, right?  
This is the line that we were in - the Kiddo is halfway down the table
It was – at first.

The Kiddo was at a station (I think she had pins), while Hubby and I somehow ended up as Verifiers.  I was fine with that, since both of us seem to have a pretty good attention to detail.

So many pins....
After about 20 envelopes however, the assembly line started breaking down – they were stuffing faster than we could verify, and we were verifying quicker than they could alphabetize!  It quickly turned into this horrendous clusterfuck of a system that got out of control. The envelopes were somehow getting to us out of order, causing more work for the alphabetizers, so eventually, we all had to stop and get more people to put stuff in order… Oh, my OCD-ness was going insane….

Once all of our envelopes were stuffed, we got lots of people to come help out with the verifying, which caused an even bigger backup for the alphabetizers….  It was such a mess.

Finally, though, by 2 or 3, everything was stuffed, verified and alphabetized.  We were done, right?

Nope – we had to go back and double-check that we had an envelope for every person that purchased an item.   Doesn't sound too hard, right?  Well, it was.  See, some people (and some computer programs, more likely) don’t understand how to alphabetize.  For some people, “McDonald” comes before “Man”, but for other people it comes after.  Going through a list of names to compare to envelopes went something like this:

Person 1 – “Lutz, Jack”
Me – “Got it”
Person 1 – “Luzzer, Sam”
Me – “Got it”
(Me now looking at all the “Mc” names)
Person 1 – “May, John”
Me – “Nope – where is McAaron?”
(Person 1 shuffling through the list) – “They are 30 entries down”

So, I had to deal with all of that, which was frustrating. By 4 though, we were all mostly done, when we were called into a group and told that the director wanted to narrow down the process and just have a few people stay to help out (she felt like there were too many hands in the pot, so to speak).  I happened to be over by the wall, getting a drink of water while Hubby was still out in the middle of the room. The director asked for volunteers, and I saw him look over at me and I slowly shook my head no, so he didn't raise his hand. 

We were all thanked for our help and told that we would still get our 8 hours for volunteering, even though we only worked 7, and that we were free to go.  We all got together for a quick group photo first, and then the family and I packed up and headed out.

Horrible group photo taken with my iPod - we are in the 2nd row, above the chick in pink

This was a huge poster in the Ladies' Room of ESPN Wide World of Sports. Yes, this poster. In a bathroom. HAD to take a photo of it....

If I go any harder, I might get hemorrhoids!