<snip> Luckily, in the big panel rooms we have some fantastic volunteer staff who deal specifically with the special needs line (separate from the main queue) so we don't all have to be sidetracked by the SS tantrums while we're trying to load the other two thousand people into the room!
Just out of interest, how do you manage the length of the special needs line vs the regular line? I always wonder how it's made "fair" if a person in the regular line has been queuing for an hour yet the special needs line is shorter and therefore they effectively queue jump.
I'm not that OP, but it sounded to me like there is specific seating for special needs. So the special needs line is queueing up for 20 handicapped seats/wheelchair spots, and then open wheelchair room at the back, or something, and so they aren't trying to get the same spots as the regular line.
Yes, this. There are spaces reserved for wheelchairs throughout the room (on the aisles), plus special spaces in the front row and right in front of the speakers and, if there is going to be an ASL interpreter, the closest seats in line of sight to him/her. Right before we open up the room, we check the disability services line and find out how many people are there and what special seats they need, then (depending on the size of the panel) we can open up some of the non-wheelchair spots for everyone else. The disability services folks go in first and get settled, but they only get the special seats that are already reserved for them - having a cane doesn't mean you get to sit front and center, just that you get an aisle somewhere (for example). Then after everyone with mobility issues is settled, we open up the doors to the main line.
95% of people (able-bodied or not) are perfectly nice and pleasant and happy to be seeing their favorite famous people - it's just the other 5% who drive me nuts
And since we're working on such a tight turnaround schedule, all it takes are one or two special snowflakes who insist on my attention now now NOW to effectively mess up the flow of traffic for everyone else
Those of us who are veterans at room-loading can use this to our advantage: "Sorry, ma'am, I need to get everyone in their seats now. I can talk to you after the line is loaded. Oh, you'd rather be sitting and saving your seat than arguing with me? Yes, I understand."