Sunday, September 09, 2012
Not my God, not the God (per Psalm 84:10), but certainly one that commands allegiance and adoration in my new home town. Sometimes known as Mighty O.
More than 50,000 worshipers - most clad in the florescent yellow and forest green of the Oregon Ducks - joined a staff of hundreds of contract workers who coalesced from all over the city and every walk of life.
I had an eight-hour game-day gig with an outfit called Crowd Management Services. I pulled on the bright blue polo shirt I was issued, tucked it into my regulation black trousers, and tried to look tough, non-partisan, and in the know.
My assignment was to stand outside the stadium for about five hours welcoming and directing people and doing my best to answer their questions about which line to stand in. My partner (known only as No. 133) and I were also tasked with chasing away the ticket scalpers lurking on our perimeter, as well as "educating" any member of the crowd who tried to light a cigarette on campus property. This was forbidden.
As the hours passed, I was able to tease out No. 133's life story. I also learned quite a bit from a patron named George, a lawyer from the small town of Hermiston, OR, also a second-generation Duck and father of Ducks. Others gave me various glimpses of their hopes, dreams, and concerns. Many were sporting fashions that in any other venue would look ridiculous - golden wigs, green body paint, etc. Quite a few chose our designated spot as a good meeting place; they called to tell the people they were meeting with (in all seriousness) to look for the woman in the yellow hat. I do not know when I have seen so many men and women in yellow hats.
As kickoff approached, the crowds outside thinned. The scalpers made their last deals and left. We helped stragglers and lingered until after half-time, when it was time to tear down much of the crowd-management equipment and be redeployed to a stadium tunnel. Halfway through the fourth quarter we were sent to ring the field itself. We turned our flint-like faces to the wall, not the game. This time our job was to prevent the premature access of fans eager to swarm the field.
Per Pac-12 regulations, members of the general public were not allowed on the field until five minutes after the game and when the field was cleared of athletes, coaches, and journalists. We held a long rope and tried to look menacing and courteous at the same time. Only when the gates were open were we, the crowd management staff, allowed to drop our rope and turn to face the field - partly so we would not be hit in the head by the hundreds of footballs being thrown back and forth by children and child-like members of the crowd who had been waiting for their own chance to toss a pigskin.
For someone like me - born without depth perception - a hundred footballs flying at once was unnerving. The sun was setting and a chill quickly descending on the stadium. When the chance came to decide who would stay and who would go, I volunteered to check out. I signed off, handed over the polyester polo shirt, and once again returned to the world of ordinary citizens and Duck fans. I could be confident that my service had not only provided extra padding for our slender finances but had also helped keep the event decent and in order.
posted at 3:19 PM