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.