Well something new today. I thought this would be one of the most boring of any of the posts. I have to stand near the very and only regular exit from the Museum. I say “regular” because there are emergency exits down in the Historical Exhibition which enable visitors who cannot continue on, for emotional or other purposes, right to outdoors. Hah! Boring? NOT!
Here’s what it is: I stand about 10 feet from the exit near a contribution box for those visitors who wish to donate in addition to the entrance fee. Interesting place to be. We do not actively solicit contributions, but just stand near enough while thanking visitors for having visited the Memorial and Museum, and hope that the box is obvious. Or at least I hoped it was obvious. In any event, if I did see a visitor pulling out his/her wallet, or searching around in a pocket or handbag, I did state, in what I hoped was a well-modulated tone “Foreign currincioes are also cheerfully accepted!”
So I thought of the many ways I could say “thank you for visiting” several times in a row while different groups made their way outside. “Thank you for visiting the Museum today”. “Thank you for your visit”. Thank you for coming to visit us today”. We appreciate your visit”. Would that that’s all I had to do.
Since visitors were leaving, they were the ones who spoke more to me. “Which way is Battery Park”; “where can I get the ferry to New Jersey” (as a New Yorker, I almost wanted to ask why in heaven’s name would they want to GO to NJ in the first place!); “where can we get a taxi”, “how can we get to the Brooklyn Bridge” ; what’s that crazy looking structure outside” (the Oculus). Many questions about where to eat – “bagels” (Orchard or Delancey Sts. , “good sushi” (Morimoto at Chelsea Market), “good pizza” (uh, nothing close). Needless to say, I did spend a lot of time not saying “buh bye”, but responding to questions and statements. Thankfully for one of the NYPD stationed near my post, I oriented myself as to east, west north, and south, since I was better able to answer questions about the surrounding areas.
At the end of the day, though, the most fulfilling and touching moments were the number of visitors thanking ME for being there and telling me how impactful the whole museum, its exhibitions and the pools outside were to their understanding and appreciation of the memorialization of that awful day. Many expressed how saying “I enjoyed it very much”sounded inappropriate, but I knew exactly what they meant.