roadshow roadie for a day

This is so not about technology, but it’s Friday Fluff time, and so I am repeating an item from my personal blog, which actually wastes away from inattention. 🙂 Watch Antiques Roadshow (multiple parts, starting April 21) on KET and maybe you’ll see me buzz by in the background.

My husband and I volunteered last July to work at the Antiques Roadshow taping in Louisville, Ky. Man, did my feet hurt afterward. Ugh, and the backs of my legs from walking on concrete for 12 hours. … But it was GREAT!

When you watch the program, you get that sense of a convention center, with a lot of people milling around. I assure you, there is no milling on the Roadshow set. That was one well-organized event. Volunteers (110 of us) were trained on Friday, and then we arrived about 6:30am Saturday for sign-in and breakfast. People had their tickets (distributed by lottery) and arrived at a specified time (beginning at 7am) to be greeted and directed toward the lineup. Once they got to the head of the line, they saw one of six pre-appraisers (my words) in what was called “Triage” (Roadshow word). Those were the folks who told them where they would go … that they would see the furniture appraiser, the collectibles, the books and manuscripts, and so forth. Next, they stepped up to those who would take them to that first appraiser (each person could bring two items, but of course family and friends came together and moved together through lines and so each group had several pieces with them). Once inside the set, which was an island in the middle of the convention center floor, surrounded by screen backdrops, they waited with the others seeing that appraiser, then moved to their next appraiser on their own. Once done, since there was barely room to breathe, it was time to move on to the exits.

The two of us volunteered in Triage, so we got to greet people, chat while we took them to their appraisal line, and really see them at their first glimpse of what they’ve been waiting for. Even at 4pm, when my feet hurt and I was hoping to see the line at the door thin out, I couldn’t help grinning and being thrilled for each person as they bubbled over and told me: “I can’t believe I’m here! This is so exciting!”

Most asked questions as we walked to the set:
1. Are the Keno brothers here? (yes) coupled with Have you seen the Keno brothers? (yes)
2. Don’t you think this [insert object name] really belongs in a different category than the one they gave me? (no)
3. Do you travel around with the Roadshow? (heavens, no; one is plenty for me)
4. Will I actually get to see them interviewing people on camera (yes – there were four stations around the center area where tapings took place right in front of the crowds).
5. Do you think [insert appraiser’s name here] would give me an autograph? (yep)

Most unusual question: Is Mark Walberg the same guy as that singer? (no, but wouldn’t it be amusing to see Marky Mark host the Roadshow?)

Each of us who volunteered were allowed to bring two pieces to be appraised toward the end of the day. I passed, but my husband brought in a letter handwritten by and signed by Salmon Chase, Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury and later Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He bought it for $80, and he was told it would probably auction for around $300-$400, which we thought was cool. His other item was a tiny Derringer he inherited from his grandfather, who inherited it from his Uncle Otrie (doesn’t that sound like someone you’d inherit a Derringer from?). It was in the $400 range too, but also satisfying was when he popped it open at the required police desk stop to show there was no ammunition. The cop purred, “Very niiiiiiice.”

The 110 volunteers worked the Antiques Roadshow from about 7am to 7pm on Saturday. By the time we all limped away, we had truly earned our volunteer shirt and lanyard as well as the genuine thanks lavished upon us by the grateful Roadshow staff. At the beginning of the day, our group got our cue to lead the first line of people to their appraisers when we heard the crew finish their opening huddle cheer with the word “ROADSHOW!” When we finally saw that the last of the line was moving through, we became slightly goofy with relief and we decided among us that they ought to allow us to do a cheer that ended “LAST ONE!” so that inside the crew would know the end was near. We were exhausted, and as my husband and I stumbled to the door, I said to him under my breath, “Please, please, don’t anyone else ask me any questions!” Perhaps 2 seconds later (I kid you not), a woman I had escorted in a half hour before stopped me to ask where she could find the restroom. I pleasantly pointed the way, and the two of us slunk off giggling in exhaustion.

What a great time.


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