Monday, April 21, 2008

The butterfly of impatience

Have you ever felt like you know how to do something better than someone else, but it's their job, or the situation is out of your control, so you just have to sit there and suffer in silence and then later commiserate with your spouse?

Well, we were at our library branch's 40th anniversary party yesterday and they had free face-painting. They had even hired a professional face-painter to do it. The problem was, she was only scheduled to be there for a total of two hours. We hopped in line with Miriam with plenty of time to spare (or so we thought) before the artist would have to leave. There were 7 or 8 kids in front of Miriam, so we knew there'd be a wait - we just had no idea how long it would end up being.

The problem was, the face-painter was spending upwards of five minutes on each child. The results were fabulous, elaborate designs that I've never seen at a face-painting booth before. But on the other hand, we were all getting tired of waiting. But on the other hand, once you tell your kid that they need to wait in line patiently and then they can get a pink butterfly on their face, well, you kind of have to follow through with that.

When Miriam was next in line, after almost an hour of waiting, the face-painter addressed the line and said that her time was up and she would only paint three more faces. "My time is up and I had no idea there would be so many of you," was the reason she gave.

Really, face-painter lady? You had no idea there were so many of us, even as we were all standing in line around the very table you were working on?

Here's how it should have gone, at least in my opinion. The face-painter could have realized that there were a lot of kids, and a limited amount of time. She also could have reasoned that it was the library who was paying her, not us individuals. If we had been paying for her services, then yes, we would have loved for her to spend 5-8 minutes creating an ocean beach sunset scene on our child's face. But as it was, most of our kids just wanted their face painted. I don't think they would have cared if it was a flower drawn on the cheek with dollar-store Halloween face crayons.

And since the face-painter's client was the library, she would actually would have served them better by fitting in the maximum number of kids for a simpler face-painting, thus making the anniversary party a fun event for more people.

Instead of, you know, telling people who had waited in line for an hour that they would not be able to get their faces painted after all, when really, you must have suspected that would happen from the beginning when you were spending so long on each child.

Anyway, here's the result. Miriam's face design is actually less elaborate than most of those before her because we told the face-painter to just do something simple in the hopes she could fit in a few more kids.

So I guess we got the library's money's worth - I just wish everyone else could say the same.


Kristen said...

Ack, this one makes me squirmy. The painter lady needs a serious talking-to. By whom? I don't know, but I would like to volunteer you, Bridget. And I would like to add that I love commiserating with my spouse over the strange, funny, annoying things *other people* do.

Lindsay said...

Oh, I was going to go to this and totally spaced! Oh, well - we probably would have waited in the face painting line only to find out that we didn't get a turn. Miriam's face looks cute!

sarah said...

you'll have to take her to malad's 4th of july celebrations sometime. i got my face painted every year when i was little. i loved it and i dont think it took a very long time..


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