I suppose it was a whim, or perhaps a Miley Cyrus-esque attempt to shake my innocence, but for one reason or another, I decided to volunteer at an anime convention as a maid.
I never do anything with my life, ever. I shy away from sports, parties, and any social events whenever I get the chance. This lead to a perpetual boredom, and sporadically making impulsive decisions to do completely random things as a result of said boredom. Once it was figure skating, another time it was the school musical and this time it was becoming a maid at an anime convention.
I’d never had a job before, so I was completely clueless about the whole customer service thing. Being shy as hell didn’t help me out too much either, because to serve customers you need to talk to them and all…As the date of the convention neared, I grew more and more anxious because I’d fluked my way through the application but all of a sudden I was going to need to actually interact with people I didn’t know, doing a job I didn’t know how to do whilst dressed as a maid.
In all honesty, at the time I wasn’t much of an anime fan, so I suppose you could attribute my applying to being some kind of ploy for attention, or adventure. Perhaps it was both. My naivety was pertinent, but I was still fully aware of the kinds of attention I could expect to receive whilst dressed as a maid.
On the first day of the convention, trembling, I took the order of Babydoll and Professor Trelawney, fumbling with a menu trying to work out what to charge them and hopelessly tangling my words as I spoke. As a bonus I probably came off as aggressive as I tend to when I’m anxious but they were still polite which is admirable. I ran off to collect the order, relieved to escape for a moment. As I returned I fumbled with a tray, praying nothing fell and finally serving their order and handing them their change, making my escape as quick as possible.
After a few orders I almost began to get the hang of it all, but multiple times I still fucked up. Carrying cupcakes was the worst. I kept crushing the pretty icing against the plate, the flimsy paper not appropriately engineered to carry and balance an iced cupcake. Or perhaps the design failure was the cupcake itself, the centre of gravity being too high or something. I could think of 100 excuses for why I can’t carry a goddamn cupcake, but the truth is I’m just a massive klutz. There was one table where the decorative plant fell into the icing, and in my panic I asked repeatedly whether they’d like a replacement despite their repeated ‘yes please’. My saving grace was that, being an anime convention, most of the guests were as socially awkward as I was, so my behavior wasn’t unusual.
Guests also had the option to play games with the maids if they paid extra, so I ended up playing hungry hungry hippos with an incredibly attractive attack on titan cosplayer. Incidentally I broke the game. How I, a 16 year old at the time broke a game intended for 5 year olds still eludes me.
I was incredibly excited to serve a ballerina (who was like an actual professional ballerina who had just wandered in from the theatre next door on her break or something). An unnatural amount of time was spent trying to work out who she was from the company, which resulted consequen struggling to take the order. It was nerve wracking to serve tables of more than two because they all wanted to give me their big notes and be individually handed change, which was remarkably inconvenient and stressful. Sometimes I forgot to take all of the money and made the walk of shame to collect what I’d forgotten. I was hopeless at remembering who’d ordered what; after waiting for food for the longest of times I was lucky to even remember whose table I’d taken orders from.
My favorite customer though was the one who insisted on being served by a female maid. He was obnoxious, frequently asking whether he could ‘buy’ me, and similarly harassing other maids. Later he called me over to ask relationship advice, which was equally enjoyable. I had to be polite, but I wasn’t. The highlight of my encounter with him though, was the part where he asked me what I was studying at uni, because at this point I revealed I was only in year 11, and his look of shock was priceless.
There was one very sweet customer who said ‘Excuse me, you’re like really pretty.’ I should’ve asked for his number or something because he was so friendly unlike the mocking, harassing guy who wanted to buy me. He wasn’t unattractive either, but I was so taken aback by his comment, all I could say was thank you and walk away blushing. Perhaps other girls get that kind of thing all of the time. I don’t, ever. I suppose I should be wary of the influence what I was wearing may have had upon his perception of my looks. But nonetheless, I was incredibly flattered. It wasn’t even like a catcall or the type of thing some girls get all the time. It was friendly and adorably shy. Maybe I’ll encounter that kind stranger again, who knows.
Aside from customers, we also spent some time walking around and handing out flyers. So many guys asked for photos with my friend and I, it was ridiculous. It was obvious that all they cared about was the outfit, but attention of any kind from boys was so foreign to me that I secretly loved it. Some of the guys who asked for pictures were cute as hell, and I thought, maybe if they wanted a picture with me, I might have a shot? Because that’s the great thing about a costume, stepping outside of yourself gives you this profound confidence because you’re not you and therefore you can do things you wouldn’t normally do. I still didn’t do anything, heaven forbid my socially awkward self goes beyond the realm of eye contact and shy smiling.
There were a few incredibly awkward photo moments. One was with a shirtless guy wearing a cape. He lifted up his cape so we could put our arms on his back and oh god… that was not a pleasant back touching experience. Probably because it was a stranger and it was a bit dark and just the general thought of touching some random’s hairy back isn’t too appealing. He wasn’t particularly gross or anything. It was just, an odd, odd encounter.
The most unsettling was the photo I had with an angry asian. He paid extra to have a picture taken in the studio with two maids and I got roped in to it. He looked angry the whole time and his first photo didn’t work out so when he returned he aggressively pointed his finger at me and gestured for me to get up and be in the photo. Those five seconds his hand was around my waist were possibly the longest of my life.
Badges of all of the maids were also sold at the convention. I think it was just meant to be a cute and quirky idea that nobody was really expected to buy into. Most of them were stolen by the maids… Anywhoo, about six months after the convention, there was another similar convention and I was incredibly amused to discover a badge of my face on a random passer by’s camera strap. I’m not sure what compelled someone to wish to buy a badge of my face and nor do I want to know. I found it hilarious that the badges even existed, but seeing that somebody had kept one, that was even more amusing.
Overall it was a good experience though, because it was something out of the norm, and far better than the blank browsing of the internet that regularly occupies my free time. There were some strange people, but I laughed about them then and still do today. I’d do it again, because I met some great people and I stepped out of my comfort zone, which was an incredibly liberating feeling.