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Last year the Patriots hosted 3 home games in December, and 2 more playoff games in January. This year there was only 1 home game in December, and no postseason football to be played in Gillette Stadium. As if in response to the NFL’s scheduling, Mother Nature decided to unleash a month’s worth of winter weather in one day, when the Arizona Cardinals came to town.
Driving into the Stadium at 7 AM was a breeze. No traffic, and road crews had 12 hours to clear Route 1 since the last flakes had fallen. Once I checked in, the snow returned. In the blink of an eye, the lots, practice field, and Stadium had been embraced by a cold, wet, white blanket.
We were short on staff, what with an impending holiday, schools on break, and the harsh forecasts the night before. So instead of patrolling the concourse, my team and I were “asked” to do pat downs. I could have scanned tickets if I‘d wanted, but the scanners get a little batty when wet, and I also wanted to keep my gloves on.
Just a quick shout out to Docker’s and their gloves. These things were soaked after patting down snow encased fans for 3 hours (and the occasional snowball throwing before doing that), but my hands stayed dry. Really, a superior product. They weighed about 4 pounds each when I got home. All water weight. But they were still bone dry on the inside.
I got the usual wisecracks and remarks during pat downs. “Aren’t you gonna buy me dinner first?” “Can you do that again?” “Ooh, that tickles (giggle)” Everybody is a comedian, and a very unoriginal one at that.
With all the winter layers and the numbness of my hands and feet, giving a good solid pat down was difficult. I was about to let one guy go inside when he went “Crap, I forgot to throw out my beer.” I had no clue it was there. I had patted his pockets and felt nothing but his puffy jacket. He pulled out a Miller Lite and threw it away.
Weirdest moment during pat downs: A guy dressed as an elf tickled me.
Funnest moment: Not letting in a drunk kid because he couldn’t stand straight, then yelling at his older brother after he yelled at me.
After a short break we patrolled the east concourse. The concrete was coated with a film of muddy slush, but it wasn’t too bad. The real problem was the snow being thrown onto the field and onto the lower seating sections from the upper decks.
We allow snow to be tossed upward into the air in a celebratory way. But the malicious throwing of snowballs is prohibited. It’s all about trajectory. But how do you enforce this rule? 99% of people hit by snowballs are hit from behind. So they can’t identify who threw it at them, so we can‘t talk to whoever threw them. I can’t tell you how many complaints we got that we couldn’t act on. “People are throwing snow from section 313.” Well, we can’t eject the whole section.
Then the guys working on the field are going bananas about the snowballs. They do the same as the fans, giving a section number and maybe a row. Still not much we can do about it.
We had a few minor problems to deal with, but nothing remarkable. A kid with a fake ID, people smoking on the concourse, that kind of thing. All season long we’ve had a good section. Our side of the Stadium is season ticket holders. By no means are we bored, but there aren’t any brawls.
We got a call in section 104 about people throwing snow at one of the cops down on the field. We were walking down to the first row when I saw to my right holding a Budweiser can. He saw me coming, tried to hide it, but I grabbed it (we don‘t sell cans, only bottles, so he had brought it in). I was going to be forgiving and simply dispose of it once I got back to the top of the section. But this guy wanted to make a scene.
After discovering that the snow throwing situation had been dealt with, we walked back up. I still had a half-full 16 oz. Budweiser in my hand. The guy I took it from started giving me the business.
Him: “You could at least say excuse me.”
Me: “For what?”
“For taking my beer.”
“You can’t have this in here, buddy, you know that.”
“You touched my hand too.”
“Really? If that hurt then you‘re pretty soft..” (My feet were too wet to be nice)
Finally, I turned to my supervisor, held up the beer can, and pointed at the kid. His father grabbed the kid by the shoulder “We’re leaving.” We walked him out but the guy I took the beer from kept spewing crap out of his mouth.
Him: “You guys think you’re tough but you only make 5 dollars an hour!”
Me (with a shit eating grin): “Actually it’s nine, have a good night sir.”
The kid was probably underage, which was why his father was so quick to bring him out on his own. Smart move. But still, typical jerkwad behavior. You get caught breaking a rule, all you lose is 8 ounces of beer, and you whine about it like a little baby.
When I was an usher last year, I’d occasionally spot a can of beer, or a nip of schnapps or whatever. I’d take it from the person, throw it out, and they’d be fine with it. They were more pissed at themselves for getting caught than anything else. They’d even joke about it with me. But this kid had to be an asshole, and it cost him the 4th quarter.
It wasn’t much of a 4th quarter, though. With the snow turning to freezing rain by halftime, the crowd’s exodus began midway through the 3rd. After the game, it was by far the quickest the Stadium has cleared after football. It’s speed rivaled Revolution soccer games.
Sadly, it was the last event at the Stadium I’ll be working for a few months. The Jets losing to Miami cost me $100 in my pocket, and cost all of you some more of my infinitely interesting and ingeniously disseminated stories.
12/31 - Sacred Heart at BC Basketball
Events: about 120
Uncomfortably hit on/fondled/tickled: 60
Times I’ve heard “Shipping Up to Boston”: ∞
AP Photo/Winslow Townson
AP Photo/Stephan Savoia
Me and my cel phone