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?”
“NEXT IN LINE!”
“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.”
“I NEED ONES OR I’M GOING TO START GIVING FOOD AWAY AND I AM NOT EVEN KIDDING.”
“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 HAVE ALL THE QUARTERS! I WIN!”
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.