#11: Super hero for a day

Posted by Megan on June 8th, 2011

Remember McGruff the crime dog? I always had a crush on him. Don’t ask me why I found a human sized bloodhound wearing a distinctively dated trench coat sexy. It would probably take hundreds of hours of therapy to resolve that issue so I’m content to just leave it alone.

I wonder if he’s packing heat under that trench coat.

There is something about mascots I just can’t get enough of. I somehow never out grew that phase of my childhood. I’ve been known to push little kids out of the way for my chance to hug Sharky at the Mall of America.  Just last week I yelled across Nickelodeon Universe to give Sponge Bob Square Pants my regards. One of the highlights of my summer is always TC Bear’s Mascot Softball Game. It is held prior to an arbitrary Twins game each summer and I’m always flabbergasted when it’s not sold out.  Dude, it’s like 15 mascots all trying to play softball – how is this not a pay per view!
I have no shame with mascots. I basically forcibly hug anyone wearing a costume. I’m sure the human inside the suit usually pretty totally weirded out by my obsession. She knows that I’m just a person in a suit… right? Halloween is always a really exciting day for me – Hugs for everyone!

This odd fixation is yet another example of how maturity level hovers near a sixth grade level. You’d think I was parent-trapped or something- nope I’m 29.3 years old.

My family will be visiting Disney World this winter and while I’m definitely looking forward to seeing all the attractions, I’m most excited to meet Mickey, Goofy, Captain Hook and the gang. I visited the Magic Kingdom when I was about eight, and I’m dying to catch up with Minnie Mouse. We were best friend forever when we met, somehow we’ve lost touch but I’m sure she’s dying to see me again. We had a bond.

Alice wasn’t waiting for her prince to come, she was dreaming of some kick ass earrings to match her totally retro hair bow.

I often dreamed of being a character at Disney World. I wanted to be Alice – the one with the Wonderland. I liked her because she was blond like me, she had some bad ass ruffled socks and she wasn’t a “princess.” I find the whole Disney princess thing to be barf worthy. The idea that we’re indoctrinating our little girls with the idea that everyone is royalty and we just need to wait for our prince to come save us is gross. Alice was cool though. She wasn’t slutty and she didn’t need help from any dudes. Her life was not defined by falling in love; she was just a curious chick with a super rad 50’s hair cut. Sadly I never got the opportunity to be Alice, but I’ve maintained the dream of someday being a mascot. 

Recently I was given the opportunity to dress up as “Volunteer Girl.” She is a mascot that encourages employees at my workplace to volunteer in the community. The premise is obvious: you can be a superhero in your community by volunteering. There was a video produced earlier this year that featuring this character. Volunteer Girl was a hired actress who through her volunteer work gained the ability to fly and save the world. Her costume was a modified Super Girl outfit, with the “S” swapped for the “V.” I fully recognize that this opens the door for many off color jokes. It could be worse, I could be Rep. Anthony Weiner.

When our volunteerism committee decided to plan a Volunteer Fair, I was quick to volunteer to wear the Volunteer Girl costume. How often do you get to wear a costume to work? Never, unless you’re a doctor, and then you get to dress up like a doctor everyday.

 I was given the costume a few days ahead of time. The only modification needed was to add a head piece. The primary lesson I learned from years of dance class that no costume is complete with out a head accessory. It was a toss up between a gold bedazzled headband or a Santa beard. I went with headband simply to avoid confusion.

The fair began at 11 a.m. I went to my floor’s shared bathroom at about 10:40 to get ready. A surprising number of women walked into the bathroom and didn’t give me a second glance despite the wildly gaudy glitter/crushed velvet accoutrement I was sporting. Am I the only one who has never seen a superhero change into their super powered suit? I need to be more astute, apparently this is a common occurrence!

Checking my super hero email account. The hulk says hi.

After I was fully changed I went back to my cube to check on a few things. A few co-workers happened to walk by as I was checking my email and doubled over laughing. I suppose it is probably fairly surreal to walk by a cube to find Volunteer Girl typing away.

I flew down to the Volunteer Fair just in the nick of time.

I considered using my flying powers to make a grand entrance at the Volunteer Fair. I decided to conserve my super powers.

I anticipated my job would be to greet the attendees and encourage them to sign up for volunteer opportunities. This was easy enough. I’m fairly good at being outgoing, however I did not anticipate how vigilantly people were trying to get me to break character. Co-workers were asking me super tough questions like “How many hours of week do you have to volunteer to keep your super powers?” and “Have you ever hooked up with Superman or Robin?” and “Will you come to my kids birthday party next week?” I did not anticipate having to actually talk. I’m not exactly quick on my feet – that’s why I can fly, duh!

 Thankfully after about 20 minutes, Ronald McDonald saved my ass. That’s right, our workplace is so VIP the national spokesperson for one of the nation’s biggest restaurant chains was right beside me pimping out his house and hustling for volunteers. Ron McDon has a bit more time on his hands now that he’s in hot water for selling unhealthy food to kids. Since when are McNuggets the social equivalent to LSD? 

McD and I had an instant connection. He shared how his recent flogging in the media has forced him to lay off several fry guys.

Ronald was a pro. He clearly had a bit more mascot training then I received. He has a snap answer for every possible question. I quickly learned that his shoe size is 132 and his favorite McDonalds menu item is a hamburger with pickles only. He had a lot of great things to say about his house. He even convinced me to sign up to bring my super friends to help cook a meal at his house later this summer.

Ronald’s presence took some of the pressure off me to be the prime spectacle for entertainment. I was able to take a few breaks from greeting the masses meet some lovely military men who were staffing a table about how to support our troops. While their uniforms certainly aren’t a costume, I was struck at how they so strongly elicited an outpouring of support and gratitude. It was far more powerful than the silly spandex suit I was wearing. Seeing someone in a military uniform always quickly grounds me and allows me to take a moment to thank the important service all the veterans and military members provide.

Two real super heroes and girl in a stupid spandex suit.

Towards the end of the fair, our company’s CEO stopped down to check it out. I’m so thankful that the leader of my company takes time to meet with employees and participate in events like this. He went around to the tables and introduced himself to all the folks staffing the tables. He then approached me and gave me a big high five and thanked me for making a fool of myself in the name of volunteerism. Little does he know that I make a fool of myself on a daily basis for far less.

I lobbied hard to our company's CEO for a formal title to Chief Awesome Officer.

 Being a mascot was a fun adventure that allowed me to be my playful self in my otherwise quite straight laced workplace. I’m sure I’ll never live down the infamy of being the crazy girl who dressed up like Super V, however I’m not sure that is a bad thing. Being fun and outgoing is who I truly am, and taking an unconventional opportunity to share that was a blast. If you will excuse me I need to fly off to volunteer somewhere…. to save some kittens… from starvation… at a soup kitchen… where they’re building a habitat for humanity house… and curing cancer.  I told you I was bad at this!

Off to save the world and stuff!

  • © 2011 Megan Steil