Wrestling Towards Gold

For being my first Olympic experience, there were a lot of things that I didn’t know existed until experienced first-hand. One of the strangest things was, as I liked to call them, “pieces of flare.”

Each person at the Olympics — volunteer, contractor, participant, etc. — had a nearly identical credential hanging around their neck. A small color strip on that credential, as well as the various letters signifying access, is what made each one different from the next (as well as the picture and bar code), but by and large, the general make-up was fairly identical. Each credential was worn around the neck and, according to the employees’ Welcome Handbook the credential “must be worn above the waistline with the photo facing outwards so as to be consistently visual to zone control personel.” Head spinning yet?

This credential was worn via a lanyard around the neck and contractors, employees and participants began to trade various lapel pins throughout the week to wear on their own lanyards.

Since there is no bandwagon moving too swiftly for me, I looked into buying a few lapel pins before finding the cheapest one at a mere $10US. I’m far too cheap to buy a few at that price to trade, so I didn’t bother with them. A few of my co-workers had a couple of dozen collected by the time the two-week Olympic run was over with, so I asked them where they got all the pins. Did they buy them at $10 each to trade, or did they grab some cheap ones from home and bring them? Turns out the company they were working for had them made just for the employees to trade with other people in London for the games.

It got to the point that, going through security, each person had to take off their credential and send it through the X-ray machine because there would be so much metal on some people’s lanyards that it’d make the alarm sound with the metal detector.

I probably would have joined in the lapel-trading fun if it wasn’t for the expensive cost of each pin. Should I be asked back for future Olympics I may pack my own pins, but in the meantime it was an interesting learning experience to see how much the “pieces of flare” were traded about.

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