I Was An Anime Con Maid and Here's What I Learned
Recently I found myself committed to working at an anime convention's maid cafe. It all started when the cafe posted the application on the con's facebook page. "This sounds fun." I thought, and so I quickly filled out the application. For volunteer work, it was surprisingly real-world-y. It asked about experience and some general questions about what kind of experience I would provide if offered a position. I answered with ease, having seen plenty of maid cafes during my experience in Japan. The application asked me about my availability during the con, whether I'd be available evenings, or during the day, as well as which days I'd be available. I assumed they'd put me on maybe one or two evening shifts.
A couple weeks passed, and I received an email that I was accepted to work at the cafe and that I had been added to the facebook group for the cafe for planning purposes. Unfortunately, I was added via an email that was not associated with my facebook account. So after dealing with that a few days before the con, I was finally in contact with my peers at the maid cafe. Suddenly, it's posted on the page that we need to learn a series of dances for the cafe. Dancing is probably one of the the things I'm most unskilled at, so I gave it my best shot and completely failed to memorize anything before the con. This turned out to not be a big deal-- I could just hide in the back during the group dance.
The day before the con, the schedule was released. To my dismay, I was scheduled for half the day, all three days of the con. Forcing me to potentially miss the date auction, the ball, the masquerade, and other major con events. It was only then that I realized this was more than an event to do just for funsies. It was a job. I attended my first shift and made some good friends, learned the basics of being a maid, always smiling, walking cutely, and being utterly subservient. It was entertaining, at least, but the whole time the back of my mind was worried about the con that I was missing.
It was half way through my shift that I discovered the maids were actually considered con-staff. This explained a ton. Compensation for working the maid cafe was a badge. In order to maintain a staff badge, one has to work a certain amount of hours as con staff, hence the intense amount of time being scheduled. I couldn't believe I hadn't put that together. Suddenly, due to my being press and already having a badge, I felt relieved. My obligation to be at the maid cafe was gone, as there was no badge being held over my head.
The maid cafe was well staffed, so I spoke to the cafe supervisor about me already having a badge, and therefore having no reason to work such hours, and that my priorities lie with obtaining good content for Con-Fidential. She understood entirely, and was happy to have my assistance. I helped out the throughout the weekend when there were gaps in the items I had to cover. Overall, it was super fun. Guests were very nice and even tipped! It was especially cute when guests would ask for pictures with us or would comment on how cute we were. I would definitely do it again, but I would also try to get a better idea of what the schedule of the con I'm at is like before volunteering, and perhaps bring a colleague with me to make sure all content that needs to be covered gets covered.
So, if you have a maid cafe at your con, PLEASE attend it, adore the maids (non-creepily), tip them, cheer for their dancing, and appreciate that they are sacrificing part or most of their con-weekend to serve you!