I fought the nachos, and the nachos won

Once upon a time, in a land long ago and far away (okay, fine, it was here, and it was last May; I may be exaggerating just a little, ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?), my darling, sweet, beautiful, talented daughter signed up to be in the marching band this year. And lo it was VERY EXCITING, because being in the high school marching band as an eighth grader felt like a Really Big Deal, and she was excited, and we were excited for her, and we filled out and signed roughly three pounds of paperwork.

Medical blah blah blah. Permission blah blah blah. Agree to the code of conduct blah blah blah. Deposit submitted blah blah blah. Schedule blah blah blah. Volunteer sign-up blah blah blah. Sign here, date here, put my name on the list here.

You know where this is going, right? We survived band camp. The football season started and we’ve been there cheering Chickadee on and, uh, lamenting how rotten our football team is. Everything’s great. And then last week I remembered that I signed up to volunteer… sometime.

(Don’t look at me like that. I signed up last May, and shouldn’t someone have sent me an email or something to confirm? I say yes.)

It turns out that one of the “band mamas” (I love that) is actually the woman from Monkey’s elementary school who always scheduled his IEP meetings. So we have bonded via the miracle of meeting-bound baked goods (why yes, I did always stop in the office and drop off some of whatever I was bringing for her, and yes, she always got our meetings scheduled in very short order), which meant that I felt comfortable sending her an email that said, “Oh, hey, I signed up to work concessions but I have no idea when or whom I should be contacting. Help?”

She sent me back the contact info for the person in charge, and I sent off an email to HER, and said, “Hey, we’re new to band, back in May I signed up to work concessions for one game, but I can’t remember when it is, when do you need me?”

She very kindly wrote back to say that I had signed up to work the game that took place two weeks ago. Whoops.

Being me, the surge of guilt overpowered my common sense and I wrote back to say OHMYGOSHIAMSOSORRY, PLEASE LET ME MAKE IT UP TO YOU, WHEN CAN I HELP? And it turned out that they needed people to work concession for an upcoming band festival, and could I do that? And maybe come at 5:00 to help prep? I all but promised to wear a cape and fly in on my jet-scooter to be there on time.

The band festival was last night. I arrived promptly at 5:00 (an hour before it started) and was directed to wash my hands and don gloves. Then I spent some quality time prepping little nacho trays by stuffing them full of chips (standing up, so as to maximize the number of chips in each tray). About twenty minutes of that—my hands were sweating inside my gloves, the rest of me wasn’t totally enjoying the hot kitchen, either—and I finished making an entire case of prepped trays, and walked over to the stand window to catch a breeze. Ahhhh… that was better… it was SO MUCH COOLER over there, I felt better instantly.

Which is how—when the woman in charge came through and asked who wanted to work the window—I said I’d do it. Surely it had to be better than wearing plastic bags on my hands and running around to grab hotdogs and ladle fake cheese, right?


Let me tell you: I was a waitress on and off for about a year when I was 20. That was half a lifetime ago, and yet as people began to swarm the window, I swear I started having flashbacks. My job was to take orders, tell the “runners” what I needed them to fetch, take money and deliver change, and hand over the orders.

The first few orders, I was still checking the menu to make sure I knew what stuff cost. I was slow. I would ask the runners for items in a slightly raised voice (it’s loud in the stand) and say please and thank you. By about half an hour in, I was just turning around and shrieking “BLUE POWERADE!” and grabbing things as fast as I could get them.

We ran out of ones. Then we ran out of quarters. So every order became something like “HOT DOG! I NEED ONES! FANTA!” The menu isn’t all that extensive, but having been unfamiliar with both the contents and the prices, I felt like I was completely scrambling for at least the first hour.

By hour two I at least had the prices down, but then we started running out of stuff, plus we still never had enough change, plus there are two windows with tables of candy and chips and stuff, and our window would run out of something or the other one would and we seemed to all be constantly leapfrogging across to get something from the other table.

Things I actually said last night:
“I’m sorry, we’re not doing french fries tonight.”
“We don’t have fries tonight.”
“You don’t want french fries. Because we don’t have any. Chips?”
“Nope, no fries for you. TAKE IT BACK.”
“I’m sorry, we’re out of the regular Chick-fil-A sandwiches, but we have the spicy ones.”
“No regulars left, but we still have the spicy kind. Those are better anyway.”
“All that’s left in Chick-fil-A are the spicy sandwiches. You look like you could use some spice.”
“We’re all out of Chick-fil-A, I’m sorry.”
“Chick-fil-As are all sold out. Yeah, well, where were you an hour ago?”
“We’re out of—” *someone announces more Chick-fil-A sandwiches have arrived* “Nevermind, I’m a big fat liar. Sandwich coming right up, sir.”
“I’m sorry, tell me again what you ordered to drink? I have Alzheimer’s.”
“Tonight’s my first night in the stand. I BET YOU TOTALLY CAN’T TELL.”
“Wait, I’m adding that up in my head. Hang on. $11.75. I think. Wait. $12.75. Yes. Okay, that’s right. I swear to God I once got an A in Calculus, but THIS IS A VERY HIGH PRESSURE SITUATION, OKAY??”
“Can I help who’s next in line please?”
“Can I help who’s next?”
“We’re out of regular Coke, I’m sorry.”
“Right now we only have Diet Coke and Coke Zero for Cokes.”
“Coke is made from the tears of slaughtered puppies so we stopped carrying it. I’m kidding, we’re out. How about a nice blue PowerAde?”
“We’re out of nachos right now.”
“You don’t want nachos. No. You want a Chick-fil-A sandwich. Trust me.”
“You’re paying me with a roll of quarters? YOU JUST BECAME MY FAVORITE CUSTOMER EVER!”

I worked concessions for four hours, at which point someone asked if anyone needed to take a break, and I looked around blearily and checked my watch and said, “Whoa. I’ve been here for four hours. Someone wanna take my window?” I was thanked and waved away, and made it outside just in time to find Otto in the nosebleed section and see a neighboring high school band do a fantastic Simon and Garfunkel medley.

Then our band was up, and then the UGA band started marching in (all 400+ of them). I slumped on Otto’s shoulder while he offered to stay ’til the end and bring Chickie home, suggesting maybe I should leave early.

I may have asked him if I smelled like nachos. I can’t remember. Mostly I remember thinking that my feet hurt and I was hoarse from screaming for PowerAdes.

I made my way back down the row we were sitting in and bumped into my accountant. Turns out his kid was in the Simon and Garfunkel band. But instead of saying something about how great they were (they were!) I instead totally stuck my foot in my mouth, because I was tired and cranky and the first thing that popped into my head was, “Oh YEAH! I figured that was [neighboring county’s band] because there aren’t any black kids!” I’m guessing that the people who live in that county—well-known for being our “white flight” district—don’t really find that sort of observation all that amusing, but he was very nice about what an ass I am.

Finally I worked my way back out to the parking lot and then, home.

I got back at nearly 10:00, and realized I’d never had dinner. I heated up some leftovers and ate them while barely upright on the couch. When Otto and Chickadee finally got home at nearly 11:00, we all mumbled something about how tired we were and everyone went to bed.

This morning I am sore all over. I’m old.

Chickadee noticed me moving kind of slowly and asked me what was wrong, and I told her I was sore from working concessions. “Really? What’s hard about THAT?” she said.

No jury would convict me for what I did next, I’m sure of it.


  1. FreeRange Pamela

    You are making me very glad that my kid’s football league lets parents PAY to get out of doing concession duty. Whatever we paid, it was worth it!

  2. burghbaby

    I worked concessions in high school. As in, I was a permanent employee and worked pretty much every event that was at the State Fairgrounds, golf course, and arena. I used to *hate* when parents worked with us for fundraisers because they would need five hours to figure out what to do when I could just do it right away. It was like babysitting, only worse because half of the parents wouldn’t listen when you tried to help them. Which is to say, OH HELL NO, I will not be volunteering for that duty any time soon. I don’t need to find out the hard way that I’m most definitely slower now than I was then. ;-)

  3. Julie @ Yo Gabba Gabba Party Supplies

    Ahhhhh….working concessions has got to be one of the worst jobs! I did this in High School as a volunteer for one night – and yes, I never went back :)

  4. Hally

    Oh Mir…you’re pretty even with nacho cheese in your hair. :)
    A million years ago when I was in marching band (both HS & University, then gasp….drump corps) when our parents’ helped out, it was loading/unloading the trucks. At 5am in the morning…because our competitions were always far away and our trucks took off ahead of the buses, so our ‘camp’ would be set up before we arrived. When you said, ‘5:00’, I assumed AM…in the MORNING…so funny.

    Happy Band Season Chickie!

  5. Frank

    The only thing that would have made it better is if you stopped and got a Chick-Fil-A sandwich with a Coke for dinner, paid in cash and tried to make it easier for the cashier to do change (always an epic fail). then had leftover nachos at home. and Licorice attacked you b/c you smelled like food.

  6. Nelson's Mama

    My youngest is in band and our band boosters staffs a beer tent at Bonnaroo (all FOUR days). I have not volunteered for that yet…

  7. Lynda M O

    An experience mirroring yours is what many women go thru on a daily basis to put a roof over the heads and food in the mouths of their families. They’re pretty too.

  8. Aimee

    Ooh, a cliffhanger. Now I’m imagining what you did next, and laughing.

    You know, my mom was a band mom, but I don’t think our football games were as busy as your event seems to have been. They also had a much more limited menu, mostly candy and snacks, and then I think just hot dogs and juice and soda. No wonder you were tired!

  9. Ceew

    Ha! You actually said that about [neighboring country band]? Total me territory!

    Also, I never worked concessions (I was always in the band), but I think the people that took the orders filled the orders (that is, saw one order through from beginning to end). The runners sound confusing! And asking for collisions!

  10. Megan

    Ahhh. Is it still schadenfreude if I really, really like stories that make me feel FAB for not having to do whatever volunteer-from-hell job it was, BUT I also really sympathize? Because I do, I truly do.

  11. Arnebya

    I have a bad habit of saying (perhaps) unfunny comments about blackness to people b/c I’m an ass and sometimes I like sarcasm.

    Gap salesgirl: I’m sorry, we’re out of that size.
    Me: It’s because I’m black, isn’t it?

    Safeway produce guy: I’m sorry, the avocados are sold out.
    Me: How? You only get 4 in at a time and the black people in this neighborhood don’t even eat avocados; they eat Popeyes!


    I can only imagine what she got (deserved!) after “what’s hard about THAT?”. Ha! How dare she. With all her youngness. All young-like and stuff.

  12. Katherine

    I worked concessions for your rivals (college) football game once last year. It was pretty much just like that only we had to get there 3-4 hours before game time and work the whole game. I was DEAD by the time we were done. So, this year, when they doubled dues instead of doing concessions as a fundraiser, I was Sooooo happy! Well worth it!

  13. Julie Marsh

    I’ve worked swim meet concessions, and what I love is how kids think the boxes of donuts and muffins are *complimentary*. I’ll admit that sometimes I just let them walk away with their ill-gotten pastries.

  14. heidi

    I spent 2 hours Saturday in the concession booth at the soccer fields. It was my third year doing it so it wasn’t too bad. However, blue Gatorade was my go to line.

  15. The Mommy Therapy

    I would have totally cracked in that type of pressure situation. Parents and kids wanting concessions are nuts. You should be sainted for working that window.

    Hilarious recap, though now I’m craving nachos and soda. What is going on?

    When are you volunteering again? I don’t want to miss your second go on serving the masses.

  16. Momsy

    I always tell my kids that a jury of my true peers would never convict me. 12 over-worked, over-tired mamas? They’d totally understand.

  17. Jen

    I love band moms. They make the director’s life sooo much easier. Of course, they (the bad band moms) make their lives A LIVING HELL. Guess how I know this? Just guess. ;)

  18. Jean

    I have no concession stories but “things you actually said last night” was hilarious! Thanks for the laugh, Mir. Btw, you’re pretty. :)

  19. Katie in MA

    With comments like that, you were totally the “Cool Mama” at concessions. Be prepared for “What’s wrong with you? You aren’t funny tonight” comments from the crowd now that you’ve set the bar so high. :)

  20. Jenn H.

    Your concessions comments could be a stand-up comedy routine. Seriously, were the customers not cracking up?! I was. :)

    My people are too young for me to be volunteering in concessions, but someday, I aspire to be as funny a window worker as you.

  21. Kathy

    I’m reading this at work and I am LMAO!!!! Thanks for the lift! Hope you’re feeling back to NORMAL, soon!


  22. Chuck

    The thought of standing for four hours straight made my lower back twinge in sympathy. Well done, Mir!

  23. Angela

    Aww Mir, you’re a saint! I think everyone who works in food service should be up for saint of the year award, if they are nice and funny, of course, not the rude/incompetent ones. For a hilarious example of the bad ones, look up comedienne Angela Johnson on Youtube doing Bonquiqui at King Burger, it’s hysterical……”Don’t innerrup….rude! Sa-curity!”

  24. elz

    What a nice mom you are. Someday you should compare notes with my mom, who sewed costumes for my high school dance team-reversible costumes, for multiple games/shows. I’m sure I was all “Geez mom, why are you all huddled over? All you did was SEW for the last million hours.” That woman is a saint.

  25. Sara

    Band Geek here myself. When in highschool, on “band day” at Kings Island, (convention of bands, and band boosters run the food stands) my parents got stuck volunteering at the potato skin’s place. (Everyone fought over the ice cream booths, because, DUH). Since then (10 plus years ago) my parents still won’t eat at the potatoe skin place at Kings Island (Ohio) because they said the potato wedges etc are fried in the sweat from the dude standing over them. LOL LOL LOL…yeah. Um I can’t remember if I ever thanked them for doing that. Perhaps I should call them now LOL.

    Mom and dad also were in charge of a fruit sale fund raiser one of the six years I was in band, and went with us to EVERY competition and unloaded/loaded instruments and kept up with unruly teens. Um, yeah perhaps I should call them now.

  26. Sara

    I must add, on Band Day, where our parents worked in the concessions for partial profit towards our boosters that paid for our trips/hotels/transportation etc, you know what us kids did? The ones that needed the money to go on these trips and support our fun????
    WE ROAD RIDES! We swam! We laughed and played and had a grand ole time, while they slaved away.

    It was AWESOME all six years!!!

  27. Neil

    Glad I don’t have kids.

  28. Beth R

    @Sara – you TOTALLY need to call your parents and thank them RIGHT NOW!

    Almost better than a concession stand with some folks who know what they’re doing and then the clueless volunteers would be an entire stand full of clueless folks. Pretty funny, too!

  29. Anna

    I had a concessions experience this summer, and we had the added benefit of beer-wrangling. Because you need a wristband, and some of them needed IDs, too. You can only carry two at a time, and only if they were opened already. That left me- the non-drinker- to figure out how to open a beer bottle. That was embarrassing.

  30. Navhelowife

    Can I just say that I am not really all that sad that son #1 is not doing marching band this year? That the only reason I know that there will be a marching band festival at our high school tomorrow is because the junior high band teacher sent home a little note about it?
    I actually liked the one that we hosted because we didn’t get ‘judged’ and it was fun to see all the other bands – one from NC did a civil war tune medley. Really well done and somber at the end – totally different than the weird story ones that were in style last year!
    Anyway, I’m glad you survived nacho duty….

  31. Scottsdale Girl

    I worked the concession stand ONE TIME in HS – my senior year (all the mat maids [wrestling cheerleaders] had to)


  32. Tracy B

    Thanks for the memories. I worked concession at highschool and also summer softball. It was a grand ole time! I don’t miss at all! ;o)

  33. Leigh

    My child is a freshman this year and also active in a way that causes me to have to volunteer. As a result I now own a nifty knitter and have spent approximately 1 million hours “knitting” one hat which I am quite sure is not going to meet the quality standards to actually be sold and earn the program $20 dollars. Next up for us a rummage sale! Hooray I can sell the nifty knitter!

  34. Andrea

    OK…so you’re saying I should cross band off the list of things I want my children to do in the future?

    You’re a nice mom…

  35. tiffany

    you pretty much summed up my life as a lunchlady except I deal with kids not having any idea how much they spend and not having the money.
    You get used to wearing the gloves though lol and get to the point you use them at home anytime you prepare food…or at least I do!

  36. Heather

    Haha I’ve definitely had that post-event hangover sort of feeling. I’m helping out with a conference the next two days and I think I’ll be singing that song come Saturday? ;)Your comments are just too darned funny. If only I were that witty under pressure!

  37. Brigitte

    *shudder* Glad we don’t have a football team!

  38. Sharon

    Having two boys in little league, I work in the concession stand at the baseball field 4 times per season. I did learn pretty quickly that cooking and preparing the food is ten times better than working the window. Once you get into groove making hot dogs or flipping burgers, it’s really not that stressful. Nothing like the window!

  39. RuthWells

    Dude. The nachos ALWAYS win.

  40. addy

    Been there done that for 4 very long years. There’s no fighting the nachos they always win!!

  41. Cele

    This makes me so very glad our high school band is a symphonic band. Hallelujah

  42. Mandie

    I’m also a band mom. At our high school, there are no paid anyones working in concessions. Representatives from the different activities take turn working concessions for another activity. I did it for my first time last year. I chose girls volleyball ;-)

    Two of us worked that night and had a blast. Again, girls volleyball…not football! I figure by the time I’m brave enough to work football, my kids will have graduated!

  43. Debra

    Nothing creates bonding between band parents faster than working the concessions together. Lawd, I loved it and didn’t realize I missed it until I read your completely accurate account of how it is.

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