Thoughts from the Diamondbacks series: “It’s hard not to be romantic about baseball…unless you work concessions”

Here’s a little factoid that may be of interest to you, since I was previously oblivious to it: it’s a pretty safe bet that anyone who serves you food at AT&T Park knows literally nothing about baseball and has no investment in the Giants’ success. Back when I was a proud member of the lunatic fringe with a pipe dream to sell garlic fries, I assumed that most employees were like me — nutcases who wanted to go to every Giants game for free. The truth is that about half of us are just stuck there by temp agencies, and those of us who are Centerplate employees usually just chanced upon the job. It is pretty impossible to remain a devout, attentive Giants fan while working at the ballpark, unless — this is an educated guess — you’re an usher. I think the ushers get to watch the games.

Also of interest: it’s a pretty safe bet that any fan you encounter at AT&T Park knows literally nothing about baseball and has no investment in the Giants’ success! I used to jump down the throats of anyone who suggested that Giants fans were a bunch of bandwagonners… but we’re a bunch of bandwagonners. This is not to suggest that our real fans aren’t good ones, because I think they are, but a lot of people show up to those games just because it’s a fun place to be. The good news is that we sell out every night and the bad news is that we sell out every night, and that when I ask anyone from my endless stream of customers questions like, do you happen to know who is pitching for the opposing team tonight? Who knocked Posey in during that rally? What is the score? they usually stare at me with an expression that clearly says, “please give me my fries and stop asking me these difficult questions.”

One of my fellow concessions workers, by the way, asked me what the word “homestand” meant. REALLY?

I must confess that my own relationship to our dear AT&T Park has been transformed over the past season. There was a time when I considered any voyage to that place to be a kind of hajj; stepping inside took my breath away. Nowadays, the Giants and I are a bit like Norm and Vera on Cheers. Norm loves Vera. He really does, even if he never stops making jokes at her expense. But the truth of the matter is, the “honeymoon” phase of their marriage is over and for the most part he would rather hang out with his friends at Cheers.

I, too, would rather hang out with my friends at Cheers.

Sorry Giants!

Oh, and in case you wanted an update on my coworker’s love affair with the real-life giant from the last entry, christened by her as “big boy” — he has not returned. Presumably she has been heartbroken over this, but last night her recovery began when she made the acquaintance of a new gentleman. This fellow was about two heads shorter than “big boy”, but instantly proved his love by whipping out his phone, taking a picture of her, and screaming, “I’M GONNA TWEET ABOUT YOU TONIGHT!!!!”

I was in the background preparing a tray of garlic fries, so I am now preparing to go viral.

He’s gonna tweet about her! If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

Thoughts from the Dodgers/Mets homestand

Well, how about these defending 2012 World Champion San Francisco Giants!

That was a mean way to start the entry. Don’t think about it. Or alternately, take my approach, which is to embrace the collapse and draw morbid pleasure from each pitiful loss. Interesting, huh? Must be some kind of defense mechanism. We’ll have to ask Dr. Freud.

I actually worked only two games in this homestand, the horrific Cain start last Friday and the horrific Cain start yesterday. Cain, mon amour!!! What has happened?! Is it because I got some dirt on my jersey and it won’t seem to come out in the wash? Is that what this is about? I’M SORRY! It’s really a tragic thing. At the start of both these games, when I sold people food I would urge them to “bring us a win.” “Well,” they usually said, “with Cain on the mound…” The insinuation is that we don’t need no stinkin’ help, we got Cain! Yes. Yes, it seems we do.

I was also lucky enough to attend the Bumgarner start on Saturday — which I’m sure you know is the only Giants victory of the homestand. So I will take personal credit for that. It was a very fun game! I had three beers and barely even needed them!

But the highlight of the week was not watching my new adopted Giant (SEE YOU IN HELL CAIN) pitch nearly five perfect innings. The highlight came a day earlier when an enormous man of nearly eight feet — a veritable Giant! — approached my humble garlic fry stand. I began to serve him at which point my coworker cut in. “Oh no,” she said. “Let ME serve him. I’ll serve him all night long. HI BIG BOY!!!”

Love blossoms at AT&T even in the bleakest of times, my friends.

After my shaky start under the leadership of Earl Gray, it seems I have blossomed as well. Garlic fry saleslady extraordinaire! Yesterday my supervisor said I reminded her of herself. What did that mean, I wondered? Nicely styled hair? A soulful voice? I was about to interject that I sadly lacked both these qualities, but she informed me that she meant “a hard worker.” Perhaps this really can be attributed to my brave leader Earl Gray, who taught me to spend my days as a concessions worker in an atmosphere of constant fear. Just ask any fascist dictator: fear gets the job done.

Thoughts from the Padres/Marlins homestand thus far

A few games ago I started thinking how fun it would be to run an entire concessions stand by myself. I mean, sure it would be more work, but I really like to do everything. I’m just really good at everything — it’s a curse, actually. I’m not sure how. Being beautiful is also a curse. I’m a cursed person. Anyway, my favorite part of the game is when we hit the 7th inning or so and all the preps take their breaks and I get to make the boats and sell them! I LOVE TO DO EVERYTHING!

I’m sharing this because last night I was unexpectedly moved to a different stand; I’m usually at one of the Derby Grills on field level but yesterday they stuck me at a bar on View Reserve. Being a generally neurotic person my initial response to this was OH NO!!! CHANGE!!!! But it turned out to be awesome. I was in charge of margaritas only, so it was basically like having my own stand, and no one was particularly interested in buying margaritas which gave me ample time to stare into space and wonder what Sam and Diane look like when they’re doin’ it. At one point the guy next to me asked me what I was laughing about… I didn’t really know how to answer that… I think I stammered awkwardly and told him I was “just in a good mood.”

Right.

Also, at the end of the shift some guy tried to jump off the roof of the stadium, and after we talked him down some other guy started peeing in the middle of the concourse right in front of the bathroom. Oh, view reserve! The place to be!

A few more notes:

- How do these Marlins keep not only beating but BREAKING our Giants?

- Best comment upon serving up some garlic fries: “Are they supposed to be soggy?” Well lady, they’re french fries mixed in a giant bowl of grease and garlic. You tell me.

- Did you guys know that Padres and Marlins fans EXIST? I didn’t. I thought they were like unicorns, eaten alive on the ark.

- Usually customers are pretty friendly except when they get incensed about the prices and take it out on me, but one MVC was particularly rude! She ordered her food during our busiest time, during which there was a huge-ass line behind her, and started counting out a bazillion $1s. On top of really putting a damper on my “get rid of all the ones in the cash drawer” game, it was also a huge waste of time. Her order came out to $19.50 and I noticed a $20 in her wad of cash, so I pointed it out to her. “Yes,” she said snidely, “I know I can pay with a twenty. I figured that out a long time ago.” A long time ago? Jesus. How long had she been thinking about this?

- In the garlic fry stand, my job is to take the orders and either get the already-prepared food or ask the preps to make something for the customer if it’s not sitting out. One of the preps gets super moody and says “OH MY GOD” every time I ask her for something. It’s very disconcerting. Like, this is your job!!! Stop making me feel guilty for asking you to do it!!!

- People tip you so much more generously when you’re giving them tequila instead of garlic fries, which is mysterious. I think I’d rather have the fries. Either way, it’ll hurt tomorrow.

May 30th, 2013: Giants 5, A’s 2

First off, sorry for being MIA lately — I’ve been working but there just hasn’t been much to report. Today had a few interesting moments, however, and it is my great delight to share them with you.

- This was my first weekday day game and let me tell you, THEY’RE CHILL AS FUCK. I’m already a big fan.

- I’m very sad I didn’t work the Tom Malone start yesterday because I could have made lurid Cheers jokes the whole time.

- Good ol’ Barry Zito and that rampant unrestrained averageness. Sometimes average is just what you need!

- MVCs of the day: two young “men” who looked to be around fourteen. They ordered two garlic-fries-and-chicken-tenders combos and two beers with IDs that would have made them 23 and 26 years old. Well, okay! I have an open mind! I’m sure there are 26 year old men who have less hair than me and whose voices haven’t broken yet. This wasn’t even the weird part. Often times there is some confusion when people order the chicken tender combos, because we serve garlic fries on their own and with chicken tenders — so it’s not unusual for a customer to order “chicken tenders and garlic fries” which could either mean chicken tenders with regular fries and a separate order of garlic fries, or chicken tenders with garlic fries. I got confused with these lads and brought them garlic fries they didn’t actually order — but proceeded to eat anyway and then informed me that they didn’t want them. I said something to the effect of, “Oh, okay,” at which point they began apologizing PROFUSELY. They apologized to me like six times and with so many adjectives to express the extent of their remorse! I really don’t know what that was about.

- It is impossible to figure out who is winning during a Giants-A’s game because so many Oaklanders show up and EVERYONE CHEERS AT EVERYTHING.

- I was the last to leave my stand because… I don’t know why they keep doing this to me. Anyway, I wound up leaving the park at the same time the ballplayers did and while exiting the underground tunnel I got caught behind none other than Gregor Blanco! Ironically, despite being a base stealer who could impress even Pheidippides, he is a very slow walker, and I have little patience for slow walkers — so sorry Gregor, I love what you’ve done with our club, but you’re on my shit list now. I just wanted to get out of there so I could smoke a goddam cigarette donate to charity, OKAY?!!!

- I almost forgot to mention, today I actually won the “get rid of all the ones and fives in my cash drawer” game!!! Winning was not as great as I anticipated because I was completely unable to make change for anyone and had to frantically run around the stand begging people to give me ones in exchange for big bills.

I’m not working the Blue Jays series since I have incredibly important things to do (aka my other awesome minimum wage job) but I’ll be back for the one after that — and it’s summer which means I’m working all the games now! Cross your fingers for exciting things.

dbb1954 said: Why oh why are the Dodgers playing so poorly. Do you have the answers?

I think Jesus explains it better than I could.

And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to win the National League West.

That’s from the Gospel of Matthew, for you heathens out there. True story.

serviceclerking said: Your blog is my new favorite thing. It's so fucking funny and honest. I feel like you're my platonic tumblr soulmate. I work in retail, which is basically foodservice, but instead of handling greasy fries and beer, I handle tampons, condoms, and depends. Keep up the great work!

Thank you so much! Always great to hear that people are enjoying the blog.

May 20th, 2013: Giants 8, Nationals 0

Well, that was a fun one! I mean, it was fun for you. I guess it was fun for me too, but it would have been more fun if I hadn’t lost my glasses a month ago and could actually see the game on the big TV across the concourse instead of deducing from screams and shrieks that it was going well. That being said, RIP Vogelsong’s hand. Who needs a hand?! Most people. All right.

Even though the fastest kind of game is usually a one-run pitcher’s duel or something of the sort, I’m not such a callous, hardened concession’s worker that I’ll turn my nose up at a nice easy routing. You can’t beat the atmosphere in AT&T, although last night was Pixar Night and apparently that drew bigger crowds than is usual on a Monday? I know we technically sell out every game but I always do notice a difference between weekdays and weekends; last night the stream of customers was pretty unrelenting for the duration of the game. MVCs were the family of six who, despite waiting in line for a good ten minutes, had not once looked at the menu and thus needed to spend another ten minute gibbering to each other about their many options, sending me off to find them different food items, then immedietely changing their mind after I’ve gone through the trouble of preparing said food items. Well, screw you guys too.

I’ve devised a few games to help me pass the time while I work. One is called “get rid of all the fives and ones in my cash drawer.” Why? Because I always end the night with a shit-ton of ones and fives and they’re a pain to count. This game augments the problem and is surprisingly exciting — it really adds some suspense to the process. All this being said, the guy who paid for his $41 purchase with all $5 bills — I’m coming for you, you bastard.

I have also begun to practice my psychic powers; I focus all my cosmic energies on manipulating customers into choosing the beer I’m standing next to and not the beer over there, the food that’s already made and not the food I have to make, most importantly NOT A BURGER PLATTER!!!! I HATE MAKING THOSE!!! I think it’s working. Hogwarts acceptance letter coming any day now.

May 7th, 2013: Giants 2, Phillies 6

Well, fuck you Philadelphia, I’d rather beat LA anyhow! BEAT LA! BEAT LA! Can I do this forever?

Points of interest:

- The Phillies Phanatic (aka best mascot in sports) made a guest appearance at AT&T last night. Near the beginning of the game a man in Giants gear came to my stand with his son, who was probably around six or seven, decked out in Phillies garb. I asked him how that happened and he said it’s because of the Phanatic. This Bay Area lad was converted to a far-off, East Coast fanbase because of the PHANATIC ALONE! That’s impressive. I’ll never tire of watching Lou Seal thrust his crotch at people, but he’s still no phanatic.


- MVCs last night — a family of five showed up in orange jumpsuits and giant orange and black tophats made of tape. The daughter also had an orange catcher’s mask. Gamers.

- The people in my stand are so nice but I also don’t know how to talk to them because I’m sort of a withdrawn mild-mannered individual and they are all very overzealous in their affection for me/everybody. One of them in particular has revealed herself as a “hugger.” I am not a hugger, but now I have to hug her EVERY DAY. Aaaaaah. It goes something like this:

- On the way home I befriended a lesbian rapper and her friend Merlin. They educated me about superhero movies and invited me to smoke weed with them. Oh, San Francisco.

All right! I mercifully have today off but I’ll be back on Friday and Sunday for the last series of the homestand against… someone… God, I have really lost my diehard Giants fan status.

May 3rd, 2013: Giants 2, Dodgers 1

First off, it should be said that of all the tribal chants in which I gleefully partake, nothing is better than “BEAT LA!” It’s everything I love about being provincial condensed into three glorious syllables. BEAT LA! BEAT LA! I could go on forever.

Incidents of note from last night:

- I saw Mike Krukow while walking into the park, and since 1) he’s not really a player 2) I wasn’t technically working yet, I decided it’d be okay to say something to him. Here’s what I said: “Mr. Krukow, thank you for your excellent work.”

Um, what? MR. Krukow? “Thank you for your excellent work?” A chill rattled my spine — oh god, had I grown up? What would my seventeen-year-old self say in this situation? Probably something along the lines of “OMG KRUK HAHAHA OMG I LOVE U OMG I LISTEN 2 U ON MY TV!!!” But it seems the kid who stood at the edge of the dugout every day screaming “STAMOS!!!!” whenever Brandon Crawford came into view is now dead. She has become boring and polite. RIP, my teenaged self.

- On a tangential note, how the hell did I ever go to these games on a daily basis just for fun? 11pm is waaaaaay past my bedtime anyway, and that’s not even including the hour commute home!! Oh youth, when did you depart me? I used to have nicknames for all the players, I used to have different things I yelled in every situation. Now, when Pablo came to bat with a runner on and two outs in the bottom of the 8th, what could I muster? “PLEASE DO SOMETHING PABLO, I’M TIRED!!!”

He struck out, of course. Well, fuck you too, Pablo! Around this time, my supervisor asked me if I’d be able to work overtime. I could think of nothing I would like to do less. “Golly gee!” I said to her. “I’d just love to!”

I grow old, I grow old… I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled…

- I tried to charge Dodgers fans a $20 fee for “wearing stupid hats” but none of them paid up. Bastards.

- It was Metallica Night. Why, why, WHY? This is purely a matter of taste, but oh, their music is so grating and offensive to my delicate ears. I know they’re from the Bay Area but I just don’t feel the civic connection, do you? Grateful Dead Night makes so much sense and this just really doesn’t. How ‘bout Culture Club Night? That’s the San Francisco I know and love!

- The stream of customers is so constant that I’ve noticed I adopt some standard stupid friendly phrases that I repeat unceasingly. It’s sort of like a script and after a point I don’t even listen to myself. I checked a woman’s ID when she ordered a beer and, upon seeing the date, said, “Perfect.” I don’t know why. It was just a weird way of acknowledging that her ID had served its purpose, but she seemed to read into this. “Thank you!” she said tearily. “No one has ever called me perfect!”

Awwww, I bet she’ll remember me forever! I bet I saved her from years of self-loathing and doubt! And I don’t even get a crummy tip out of it?!

- So how about that Buster Posey?

Not working today, and I am ATTENDING the game on Sunday. Will return on Monday and Tuesday for the… whoever-we’re-playing-next series, and then Friday and Sunday of the next weekend. Ten-game homestands. Oh boy.

April 23rd, 2013: Giants 4, Diamondbacks 6 — Some Thoughts on Tomatoes

Looks like these shoes weren’t made for walkin’ off last night. I think my teenaged, die-hard Giants fan self would have been pretty disappointed to hear that I took off at 10:15 when my shift ended rather than sticking around to see how things turned out — but damnit, I have school! I did enjoy watching Pablo trundle around the bases and get tagged out about halfway between third and home. The fat ones are always more loveable. That’s what I told myself when I ate a giant boat of garlic fries after things slowed down at the stand. By the way, I hadn’t had garlic fries for a long time and NOW I GET WHY EVERYONE WANTS TO BUY THEM! THEY’RE AWESOME! But unfortunately they hurt me, oh, my stomach is pissed right now.

My most notable tale from last night came near the beginning of my shift. When we show up to the stand we all help set things up before the first significant wave of customers comes along, and a few games ago one of the cooks told me that I should always come back to the kitchens and help with prep stuff back there. So far, my only job has been preparing the lettuce and tomatoes for the “hamburgers” we sell. This is a pretty simple operation. The lettuce is pre-cut into squares and the tomatoes are all in a container thing, so I just stack ‘em. Anyway, I did this for the second time yesterday, and despite having been initiated to the secrets of lettuce-tomato-lettuce-tomato-etc stacking only a few days earlier, the cook really wanted to get her point across. “Remember,” she said as she departed from me, “it’s lettuce, tomato, lettuce, tomato. Not tomato-tomato or lettuce-lettuce.”

"Okay!" I said like the plucky little soldier I am. But as I progressed in this task, I started wondering… How could anyone think to do it otherwise? As long as you get the first row of lettuce down at the beginning, wouldn’t you have to be REALLY out of it to mess up the basic A-B-A-B-A-B pattern? I mean, come on lady, I tried to write poetry once. I can produce a basic alternate rhyme scheme. I refuse to make a heroic couplet of these tomatoes!

I’ll end with something mostly unrelated to baseball/concession work, but it happened on my way over. At 4pm on a weekday the N-Judah inbound tends to empty out around Powell and is usually just about empty past Embarcadero Station. Such was the case yesterday — the only people in my train were myself and another concessions worker — but then this enormous guy carrying an even bigger bag of GARBAGE got on. Where shall he sit? Oh gee, there are rows of empty seats! Guess where he sat? NEXT TO ME.

Also, on another tangential note, that Bay Bridge light show freaking sucks. THERE AREN’T EVEN COLORS AND IT ALWAYS LOOKS THE SAME.

Would you like some garlic fries with that?

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