King of the Castle, King of the Castle: I Have a Red Shirt!

Over the weekend, Jim and I–along with the sixteen-year-old–volunteered on behalf of the Lacrosse Club at our town’s major end-of-summer festival. We signed up to do two shifts, Saturday AND Sunday from 3-7 p.m. Initially we were supposed to work in the beer tent (well, Jim and I were; the boy was supposed to take tickets elsewhere), but due to some snafu we were switched to Security.

Yes, you read that right: Security.

Needless to say, I was very excited.

On Saturday, we picked up our white “Volunteer” shirts…

…and then got our assignment: Crowd Control. Not as exciting as it sounds. You see, we were stationed in the concert area where there would be concerts from local bands at 4 and 6, and then the Doobie Brothers would play at 8. Basically what we had to do was make sure people didn’t set up their chairs and blankets in the “Standing Only” section or on top of the Fire Lanes that were spray-painted on the grass. It was amazing to see how, even though we were shooing people out of the Standing Only area (a huge area in front of the stage), other people’s sense of entitlement would still cause them to either attempt to set up their chairs there or come to us and ask, “Is this area different from that area, where everyone is sitting on chairs or blankets?”

Come on people, you’re brighter than that.

Patrolling this concert area, though we got to hear music during our shift (I wasn’t thrilled with the two early bands but it WAS music…), made our 4-hour shift seem like a 40-hour shift. Practically endless.

On the bright side, volunteers were given free water and soda, so at least that was a plus and we didn’t have to spend $2 per drink per person all afternoon.

On Sunday, we were hoping to get a different assignment. And we did! We were needed at the gates of the concert area, to check bags and purses for outside food and beverage, alcohol, video cameras, and weapons (!!!). We were excited about not having to patrol the concert hill for four hours, but my excitement level jumped even higher when I got the wardrobe change: we were given red Security shirts to wear instead of the white, plain, “Volunteer” shirts we wore on Saturday.

Are you kidding me? How official and exciting was that? First of all, red is my favorite wardrobe color because I look fabulous in it. Second of all, the wearing of these shirts immediately raised our status to “Very Important” (okay, in my own mind). All I needed, I kid you not, was my tiara. I would have been all set.

A few outstanding and/or exciting incidents at the gate:

1. I made an alcohol bust! A woman had a small bottle of Bacardi in her bag. I said, “Uh, you can’t take the alcohol in.” She said, “We’re just going in to set up our blankets for the 8:00 concert (Gavin DeGraw) and then we’re leaving.” I said, “You still can’t take it in there, and you won’t be able to take it in later.” She ended up leaving her bag with me while she set up her blanket on the hill, and picked it up on her way out. I’m certain, however, that she figured out how to hide it and got it into the concert later on.

2. A woman came through with a quilt and the backing fabric was, I’m sure, taken from the same blanket that I had in 1982. It took me back to this photo, which I amazingly was able to find immediately after getting home. It was taken during my Germany interchange, the morning after a slumber party.

3. The 4:00 concert was GREAT; we got to enjoy it without the irritation of controlling crowds. It was Kimi Hayes, and she and her band were awesome. Check them out here.

4. Jim stopped some guy coming through to check his bag, and this guy literally tossed it at Jim. For a split second I, being right next to Jim, felt his body tense up like he was going to lunge at this guy for being a jacka$$, and then felt him relax again as he realized that it was unnecessary and that some people are just jacka$$es.

5. Had a bunch of people come through at different times that reminded me of the a-holes from Saturday Night Live:

6. I have never, ever seen so many designer and designer-knockoff purses in my entire life. The crowd for Gavin DeGraw was–er–slightly younger than the Doobie Brothers crowd and 90% of these teen girls not only had the designer-ish bags but also the super-tight jeans, provocative tops, and flashy electronic accessories in their purses. How did I know that? I was going through bags, remember??

7. After only 4 short hours of working gate Security, I got a miniscule taste of how the airport security folks used to feel when it was still allowed to make jokes about bombs and other weapons. It’s freakin’ annoying. Some of the comments we got: “It’s not the liquid you have to worry about, it’s the dry stuff.” “I’m a 65-year-old woman! Do you think I’m here to cause trouble?” “You’ve gone through my bag about 8 times already!” (Then don’t leave and come back eight times!) I could go on and on…but I won’t.

8. I was constantly reminded of Brian Regan’s “You Too” routine; after I searched a bag I would say, “Enjoy the concert” or “Have fun!” and almost everybody responded, “You too!” (Fast forward to :40)

You Too & Stuff – Brian Regan

9. I learned that, though we did our best and did exactly as we were told, that “Security” at a local festival isn’t all that secure, really. We were told that we didn’t have to check chairs and the bags they came in. We weren’t expected to “dig around” in bags: just to “look through them”. We were not checking pockets or doing pat-downs–not that we wanted to, mind you, it’s just that the men (mostly) could have carried just about anything in via their pockets and we would have totally missed it. It was an interesting lesson.

At the end of the day, we were tired with feet that felt like they were on fire. We treated ourselves to Dippin’ Dots (Jim and the boy) and a funnel cake (me, saving half of it for the 13-year-old, who stayed home and did homework and housework all afternoon). Going home felt really, really good. And then it was time to plan for Part Two of our Labor Day Weekend: The Fab Five Pizza Festival! Stay tuned for that post in the next day or two…Hope YOU had a great weekend!


  • Melissa

    I was racking my brain trying to figure out what fest y’all were working at!!

    Next time I need security I’ll give you a call. You can bring your classy t-shirt…though I do require the tiara….;)

  • Dea

    Sounds like you met some interesting folks – tons of fun, eh?? I’m lmao at the SNL skit, though – we had TONS of those people at weddings….ugh….

  • k a t i e

    First and foremost – is that a large hot dog wearing glasses as the icon?! It took me ages to work it out (shhhh, I just woke up!).

    Secondly – you go girl! That shade of red especially is gorgeous, and I’m sure it made you VIP 🙂

    And also…I think I’m one of those ‘younger’ crowd with all the electronicy stuff in my purse. Don’t hold it against me 🙂

  • Sue

    Red shirt security and a tiara. You have moved up yet another notch in my mind! You have got to be the coolest mom “near” Chicago!

  • Michelle

    Hmmm – the Fab Five Pizza Festival sounds intriguing. I love pizza. Tomorrow night? Stuffed spinach while I watch Tivo’d 90210 with several friends.

    I love the security job. You *so* should have worn the tiara just for the fun of it. I don’t envy you your gig, but … at least you got some good music, right?

  • Melisa

    Melissa: You ARE kidding, right? 🙂 (Google)

    Deanna: I BET you did. Gawd, some people are so annoying!

    Katie: Bingo! You’re right about the hot dog. If it makes you feel better, I think that the logo designer was a little sloppy in execution. Also, I wasn’t *totally* judging you young girls…mainly making the point about the age difference in crowds from one night to the next. (I may have been judging a bit though: don’t hold it against me! LOL)

    Sue: Awww! I bet you look fab in red and a tiara also!

    Michelle: I’m actually DVRing 90210 as well. I didn’t watch it a lot when the original was on, just enough to sort of keep up…but I’m dying to see what they’ll do with the new one! And had I known about the gate security job in advance, I just might have brought the tiara. Never fear, I had it on mentally. 🙂

  • nukedad

    That does sound a little lax. I bet John Malkovich could have snuck in a wooden gun and shot Clint Eastwood with it.

  • Sarah Clapp

    That wasn’t the pee blanket was it?

    I thought this post was very very amusing.

    I do like the Hotdog holding the badge on the red shirt of power!”

  • Kim M.

    HA HA! I love the idea of you in your RED security shirt and tiara! Good job busting the alcohol lady…Have a great weekend… we’re getting a ton of rain from Hanna, it seems…
    –Weather Kim in DC