Things I’ve Learned From My First Year As A Target Field Usher

For those of you that didn’t know, at the end of every school year at Gustavus, I have typed up a Facebook note titled, “Things I’ve Learned From My _____ Year at Gustavus.” Since the stress of school work can appear to take up all our time and energy, I decided to look at the finer things that I learned outside the classroom. It’s not limited to things I necessarily learned, but can be extended to my personal nuances I’ve developed or observations I’ve made about the surrounding environment. It’s been 3 1/2 years since I introduced this first post, and it has become wildly popular among my college friends. Therefore, I decided to extend this to ushering at the brand new Target Field.

I had thought about calling this something like “Confessions of a Target Field Usher,” but after the movies “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen” and “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” I decided that this name would not be original and a bit too chick-flicky, so I’m sticking with my own, longer, yet more original title. Without any further introduction, I give you to the things I’ve learned from my first year as a Target Field usher.

– I get to pick between $3 parking and a 5 block walk or free parking and a long walk/light rail ride from the Metrodome to Target Field. More often than not (usually decided by my carpool) we stuck with the former.

– There’s a homeless man that has a chair that looks awfully similar to our handicapped folding chairs. “Excuse me sir, but may I have a look at – yoink!”

– Once I went barhopping with my friend and fellow usher Laura, it became very tempting to enter a bar along 5th Street after a Twins game. The rampant consumption of alcohol inside the ballpark didn’t help either.

– As soon as I got my permanent spot in the right field grandstand, I had a favorite urinal. Not joking. It would have been the one closest to the door, but that was the kiddie urinal where the top came to my belt line. So, I took the one furthest from the door, right next to the stall. Hey, it’s nice knowing that I can only have a guy standing on only one side of me.

– While we’re on the topic of standing room tickets, here are my thoughts in less rage form.

1. You do not get to take open seats. We sell out practically every game. Just because they’re open doesn’t mean those people didn’t show up.

2. I understand you paid $22 or $25 for those. But if you go stand behind those nice $80-some seats behind home plate, you just saved yourself nearly $60! Yet, you are standing by me here in the grandstand, where the seats cost $18. By standing here, you’re wasting the money that could have bought you another beer… unless you came to see me, which you can’t put a price on.

3. Oh, those nice, padded, armrest-lacking, movable, green folding chairs? Those are handicapped seats. They’re not for you.

4. Yes, I understand those people don’t look handicapped. They are either friends or family of someone that is handicapped. Or they bought their tickets off StubHub.

5. Just so you know, the “My brain is handicapped” or “Others call me handicapped” excuse was used about 10 times this summer.

– Don’t try to lie to me. Examples:

1. While holding a man back from walking up the stairs during an at-bat, he looks at me in disbelief and says, “You’re going to make me wait here after I spent $20 on beer?” Sir, you are holding two beers. Beer is between $4 and $7.50 depending on what you bought and where you bought it from. There’s no way you spent any more than $15.

2. A woman old enough to be my mom got annoyed when I kicked her and her family out of seats that weren’t theirs. She tried to tell me that an usher had said they could take open seats if they had standing room tickets. There is no reason an usher would say that to you.

3. Probably more a case of being mistaken rather than lying to me, but a woman was 100% certain that Target Field sold gyros. Ma’am, my sheet of paper that has every single food and drink sold in this stadium does not list gyros, nor does it say that we have a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern stand. Your friend could not have bought a gyro at Target Field last week.

– It’s sort of funny, but the demographic of fans that I despise the most is my own (college-age). Old enough to be bold, young enough to think “What the hell? Why not?” before they do something that annoys an usher.

– I don’t like working at gates. Scanning tickets isn’t really a problem, but it’s the uncertainty of either being stuck at the gate for the whole game (thus being unable to watch any of it) or being reassigned to another part of the stadium, where you’re still not fully sure where you’ll go. Occasionally, you’ll get lucky and will be sent to the Dugout Boxes, but more often than not, you’re giving breaks to other people.

– Most ushers hate the elevators, but I don’t mind them so much. It gives me an excuse to make small talk with a wide variety of people. Now if I was stuck in one every game… GET ME OUT OF HERE!!!

– I haven’t tried a lot of food at Target Field. So far, I’ve only had our break room hot dogs and nachos (more like chips and cheese), Murray’s steak sandwich, chicken tenders (used to be the best value at TF until the portions became smaller), and ice cream cone with crushed Oreo.

– Are you on the scoreboard after Kiss Cam just finished? Surprise! Your boyfriend’s gonna propose!

– Speaking of which, hopefully the novelty of proposing at Target Field will die off next season. It’s cute and sweet to all the fans, but for the employees, it’s blasé.

– My baseball cap is so sun-damaged that it appears that I threw it into a dirt pile.

– I don’t know what it is with my water bottles, but I had two stolen from me this year. I admit the first one was a nice bottle, but the second one was a cheap camping water bottle. Unzip the carrying case, and you’ve got yourself a bottle you can crush with your bare hands.

– For some reason, many people assume “usher” also means “cleaning crew.” Sorry, but we have a separate “Housekeeping” department at Target Field. The only time I had to actually clean the stadium was when we had that doubleheader against Baltimore and we needed every available person to clean the park in only a couple hours.

– Taking a home run ball to the chin during batting practice and then working through the entire game can earn you a $25 Target gift card from some supervisors and your boss, apparently.

– Working a 7 pm game would make you think that I’m only at Target Field for a few hours, but if you include travel time and my carpool, it’s more like 8 hours (3:45 pm – midnight). Officially, it’s be at TF 2 or 2 1/2 hours before game time, and leave an hour after.

– Despite being an usher, I’m not really allowed into the Legends, Metropolitan, or Champions Clubs.

– This season, I have seen these various players and coaches off the field:

1. Joba Chamberlain, walking to the visitors clubhouse through the basement level of TF.

2. Evan Longoria, walked along 5th Street.

3. Paul Konerko, sitting at a bar table on the sidewalk on 5th Street.

4. White Sox 3rd base coach Jeff Cox, along 5th Street. He’s the only guy that we ever talked to, but that’s because he started the conversation with us (We’re supposed to refrain from talking to players and coaches, but hey, he felt like chatting with us).

5. Johnny Damon, just outside the usher break room in the basement.

6. Will Rhymes, Austin Jackson, Brandon Inge, and a few other Tigers, in the elevator from the basement to the street level.

– The best (read: biggest) ice cream cones are made by “Amy Zing” at the North Shore Creamery at Section 126. Tell her I sent you.

– Yes, people, we have a -2 level at Target Field. That’s just a fancy way of saying that’s our basement/field level.

– I wish I had learned earlier that I could walk through the outfield portion of the basement level to go from the break room (under the Budweiser Roof Deck) to the center field elevator, then take that up to get to the right field grandstand. That would have been much faster than trying to walk through the fans on the concourses.

– The Murray’s Steak Sandwich gets better and better every time I eat it.

– I’m very shocked to see that (by my count) we’ve had only one in-game field jumper, and he was only 9 years old.

– I’m also shocked at the distinct lack of beach balls this season.

– With my plans to become a teacher, it’s very possible that I will be an usher for at least several years. However, I have to decide between remaining a Guest Services usher, become a Premium Services usher (more pay, work in Legends, Metropolitan, and Champions Clubs, and suites, but see less of the games), try to finagle my way into a supervisor job (probably won’t happen for 5 years though, based on ages of youngest supervisors), or see if I can get into the stats department (if there is such a thing). Staying with Guest Services or doing stats are my top two choices, but I like my job so much that I can’t see myself changing without regretting it at some point.

– When being reassigned, be careful of what you say. Saying “I want to be placed here” can often give you what you want. Saying, “Put me in a winning place” gives you a stairwell with no view of the game.

– This has got to be the coolest job in the world. Being paid to watch Twins games is tough to beat.

– The turnstiles don’t count anything. They’re just there for crowd control.

– This is the order of people you should ask your questions at Target Field:

1. A Guest Services (light blue) or Premium Services (dark blue) usher.

1a. A supervisor (dark blue, doesn’t have “Premium Services” on shirt), but even for ushers, these people can be hard to find.

2. Security. They sort of know where everything is, but don’t count on them.

3. Concession workers and other employees. It feels like they only know how to get from their favorite entrance to their stand/booth and out again.

We have several hundred ushers at every game. We aren’t that hard to find.

If you have any questions or comments, you’re more than welcome to drop them in the comments section and I’ll answer them as soon as possible.

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31 Responses to “Things I’ve Learned From My First Year As A Target Field Usher”

  1. Laura Says:

    I have many things to say:

    – Damn straight bar hopping is awesome.

    – LAWL on standing room only.

    – Seriously, you’re such a whiner about gates. More often than not I gave breaks in a place where I could see the game very well…FROM BEHIND HOME PLATE (or in the boxes, yeah). And most team leaders have no problem letting you trade off at the gates to go watch an inning or two. Remember, you’re not technically there to watch the game.

    – The proposals have slowed significantly. We haven’t had one the past few days.

    – Taking the service level is one of my favorite things to do. I often run into our bullpen pitchers down there. Jon Rauch = hilarious.

    – You obviously didn’t work last night. There were beach balls. Probably because school is back in session so there are actually students with not much to do (first week back and all). My theory on the reason for there being so few though… We have this factor called weather at Target Field. And wind. Beach balls disappear onto the field much faster than they did at the Dome. And the sections are smaller so there are fewer people to hit them away.

    – When being reassigned, make sure it’s Jean downstairs. She always gives out good spots if you ask her for one. =)

    Fin.

  2. Patrick McDougle Says:

    unless you came to see me, which you can’t put a price on…bahaha, like me and Dan.

  3. Tweets that mention Things I’ve Learned From My First Year As A Target Field Usher « Off The Mark -- Topsy.com Says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bill, Andrew Bryz-Gornia. Andrew Bryz-Gornia said: If you haven't seen, here is my post about my first year as a Target Field usher. http://bit.ly/dDqxqa [...]

  4. dm Says:

    The proposals are not cute and sweet to fans. They’re cliche’, annoying, and since they’re pre-screened, pointless.

  5. Betsy Says:

    As a girl…if I ever got proposed to on the big screen, I would be like the girl that had the dude in a Bonser shirt propose to her and say NO! I love baseball, but I think those are so corny and dumb.

    Love the insight! I’m not gonna lie, I sat in a real seat by the 6th inning when I did SRO. :)

    • Andrew Says:

      I’m going to make sure that T.C. gives you the cold shoulder the next time you see him :-P

    • thisisbeth Says:

      Was that a no, or an awkward yet? I saw a “no” once in the Dome–the girl said “no” straight out, and went running up the stairs. It was verrrry awkward.

      • Andrew Says:

        I’ve seen one proposal where the woman was too shocked to give an answer. The camera was on them for at least a full minute, and eventually they had to take the camera off them because the inning started. Anyone that wasn’t seated around them never found out her answer…

  6. funny Says:

    Great Post! Follow me on Twitter @ bernardway, i do follow back

  7. Maija Says:

    I hate the people who get all POed when the usher tells them they can’t go to their seats until the at-bat is done. Ugh. One guy said something to the effect of “this new Target Field policy sucks.” No. It was always like that. You block people’s views standing around in the aisle. It’s not that hard to figure out.

    • Andrew Says:

      I’d say only about 5% of people actually do that, fortunately. To be honest, I don’t recall ushers ever doing this at Target Field, and I didn’t really mind those that walked to their seats during an AB. It was only the people that took forever that bugged me, which is why I never held people back until about the middle of summer. (Shh! I didn’t say that! :-P)

      My example with the $20 beer guy is precisely what happened there, he wanted to sit down immediately instead of making his buddies and/or himself wait to drink. It’s more common for people to not understand why we do this, but generally they get it once I explain it to them.

      If you’ve been to my section in TF, you’ll notice that most games, I’m trying to cover 4 stairways. I talked with a supervisor and we agreed that I only needed to hold people back on one stairway, and if another usher came, he/she could take care of one on the other side. So I have a guy come up to me one game and I tell him to wait, and he gets mad at me because I’m not holding people back on the other staircase for his section. He claims he had only seen 4 batters the whole game, even though we were in the 3rd inning. I checked later and noticed his seat was next to the stairs, and he had people walking up and down the whole in his view. I finally understood his complaint, but there wasn’t much I could do, and he really could have been more polite about it.

      We’ve also had people email the Twins about fans walking in front of them during ABs, which can be frustrating, but it would be nice if they would just go to the ushers and tell us before going through an entire game sulking.

      Lastly, there’s been about 3 times I had people ask me why we hold people back when they go up, but don’t do anything when they want to come down. “Uh… because we don’t have enough ushers, and we don’t know when people want to leave their seats?”

      Sometimes, people have an idea of how things should be run, and they don’t get that there are reasons why the other ideas are not plausible. Random tangent before I end this long comment. When I went to Hawaii, I took a tour of a sugar plantation. We were told while we went through the factory that waste from the sugar plants are burned as fuel, which obviously saved money and was more efficient. One guy on our tour asked why the plantation didn’t use oil instead. Appropriately, our tour guide ignored the question and walked away.

  8. Friday Links and Thinks « SethSpeaks.net Says:

    [...] Andrew from Off the Mark wrote about Things he learned while being an usher at Target Field. [...]

  9. CapitalBabs Says:

    yeah, apparently I’m in agreement with other fans that NONE of us find the proposals cute and sweet. I would support the TF management instituting a limitation – one per homestand or something – ANYTHING that would mean less than there are now.

    Betsy and I totally agree – if some guy did that to me, he’d immediately be turned down.

    I will say that my first response about rude fans who are walking or standing inappropriately is NOT to complain to the usher. Maybe it should be but I’d be one of those people who steams all game and complains to a customer service office. I guess fielding complaints has never been in my thought of the usher’s job description. I’ll remember differently in the future.

    I do think that we need a new educational campaign from management to teach people ballpark etiquette – thought that for many years but a new park just highlights the need and opportunity.

    I would love to have your input on something though – check it out and let me know if you have any suggestions: http://knuckleballsblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/10-Commandments1.ppt

    • Andrew Says:

      I do think that we need a new educational campaign from management to teach people ballpark etiquette

      If you look on the scoreboard throughout the game, there are occasionally messages posted about ballpark etiquette – namely, waiting until in between ABs before you leave or return to your seat. However, it’s in the lower right corner, and with a scoreboard as large as we have, it can be tough to spot it. Rotating it with about 5 other messages doesn’t help, either.

  10. k-bro Says:

    I gotta know: did you draw the cartoon? It’s great; however, I’m a bit concerned with how well you draw “rage”.

  11. John Says:

    hey, nice blog…really like it and added to bookmarks. keep up with good work

  12. Al Gustafson Says:

    Fun reading your blog–8th grade English–S.L.P.–go Panthers!

  13. Tim Says:

    Hey how did you get this usher job?

    • Andrew Says:

      I had a friend that already worked for the Twins that helped set up an interview for me. However, they’ve already completed interviews for the 2011 season.

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  15. Andrew Sucks Syphilitic Donkey Balls Says:

    You were a hall monitor in school weren’t you dick head? First you’re a damn pussy little tattle-tale Nazi on the Twins facebook threads, and now we hear you have a power trip , andreach orgasmcorrecting people a s to the price of their beer? Whether it’s $15 or $20 his point is the same lame brain. PLEASE DIE ALREADY!!!

  16. Brendan Kennealy Says:

    I’m sad I never found this sooner. Great post. Also, you should note at the bottom that First-Aid people know even less about directions and the stadium than the concession workers or vendors.

    Think you’ll post an update after this season?

  17. Kerry Says:

    I enjoyed your blog as a distraction from my anxious quest for information and tips about bringing a disabled fan to Target Field. I REALLY want to bring my sister in her wheelchair. I saw the flyer about access, but I need a firm plan… and I can’t even figure out how to order the tickets! Any advice? We would have a party of 8 people total.

    • Bryz Says:

      Sorry I took so long to respond. Your best bet is to call the ticket office or go to the box office in person at Target Field. Make sure to request the handicapped seats.

  18. ron Says:

    At leased you get paid for doing it.The first aid team has to do it for free and put up with this stuff and put up with the Hitler sisters Deb and Susan. No wonder there`s such a high turn over with the team. They expect you to respect them but they don`t respect you, if they decide to get rid of you they make up a reason and do it. Then they cry that they are short handed ,then do a help wanted mailing ,lie through their teeth to get others to join(after they judge them) just to do it all over again.

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