Driving in to work, I passed three vehicles adorned with Confederate flags. I've been to a few NASCAR races, where you'll see said flag all over the place. But it's typically attached to cars/trucks with Alabama or North Carolina plates. There's something sordid about a CSA flag on a car with Mass. plates and Red Sox bumper stickers. At least the guys from The South can claim it stands for regional pride. But what's a kid from Framingham trying to say with it?
They're probably not trying to say anything. They just want to be part of this silly trend. With my generation, it was the rap music.
Then came the rock/rap hybrid stuff like KoRn. We all wore baggy jeans, had wallet chains, tried speaking hip hop slang, et cetera. I'll admit to once owning a Limp Bizkit windbreaker.
So it's just kids being stupid, and simultaneously making me feel old.
My first CountryFest was in 2008. I had just started the whole response team gig. I wasn't on a permanent team, and didn't really know what I was doing. In '09, I was on a team, and had a very good idea what I was doing. And in 2010, I ran a team. Like I said, at Gillette Stadium, you're measured by your Countryfest experience. For me, Countryfest marks the end of the "event year." So with its passing, I'm now starting my 4th season at Gillette Stadium.
My team started at the gate. We had two teams out there, along with a phalanx of Police. Gates opened at 4, the first act went on at 5, and the headliner (Brad Paisley) would take the stage sometime after 9.
The first group of fans were orderly and sober. These were the actual music fans, and represented perhaps 10% of the actual crowd.
Then came everyone else. The two teams we had at the gate were augmented by a third. Trying to remember all the sobriety checks I requested is difficult. When I'm taking my notes on each incident, I'll usually write something to trigger my memory at the end of the night when filling out my paperwork. "Red shirt New York," "District Attorney," "Bloody arms," "Crying girl," "KG and Rondo," "Terrell Davis," and so on.
Most of our time at the gate was spent weeding out the people who "stood out" in the crowd. I put that in quotes because the best way to stand out is to have difficulty standing up.
Now, I don't expect anyone to just say "You got me, I'm intoxicated, you don't even need to have Police do a sobriety check, just take me to the station to sober up." I expect some sort of dispute. But the kind of arguing strategies employed by these people are simply comical.
"I was only stumbling because of the curb."
Curbs are minor and routine obstacles that are quite easy for sober people to negotiate, especially when the elevated sidewalk is white concrete, and the lower roadway is black asphalt. It's difficult to be surprised by such a curb.
"Come on man, my parents are really strict. They're gonna kill me if I get into trouble."
"I had parents too." The sympathy ploy isn't a bad one to try. It won't work with me, but it also won't irritate me too much. And the same goes for girls crying. I'm not going to yield for tears.
Then there's the spoiled brats who use an argument that really aggravates me.
"I'm just as drunk as everyone you're letting in to the Stadium."
I had one girl try this argument on me as a friend of hers was being given a sobriety check. "Okay, let's take your logic to the next step," I said. "Would you have the Police not detain any drunk people at all since they can't detain every drunk person?"
She stopped talking. But this self-centered logic is far too common. We'll stop one person who's stumbling, they might see someone else who seems drunk, and they'll feel singled out. It's the old "there are other criminals that haven't been caught" defense. Illic es alius scelestus, as it's known in legal circles. Unfortunately, it's never been very successful in a court of law, or with me.
Then there's my favorite disputant: the (wannabe) attorney.
Another girl asked me "Why did you single her out and how can they detain her? Isn't that a violation of public rights or something?"
"Well, this is private property. And even if it weren't, you can't just be drunk in public, can you?"
Then this girl kept going on about civil rights or something.
"Are you really feeling that oppressed right now?" I asked her. A friend of hers grabbed her by the shoulder and they went through the gate. I usually have a great deal of patience, and I don't mind briefly trying to explain to people why their friend will be spending the night with the Police, or why they have to leave the concert, or why they have to follow some rule about access points or red-lines. Some people are curious, and I like rewarding curiosity.
Some people are just jerks. I don't like rewarding that.
Later there was the law student. Her friend was stumbling in line. I was accused of "singling her out because she's short."
I shook my head and said "that doesn't make any sense at all, and you know it."
Then her friend, the law student, tried coming to her rescue. "I'm a law student, I'm going to be a DA, I know the law and you can't do any of this."
"Why not?" I asked, with some curiosity. Maybe this law student had discovered something to change the way we do everything at the Stadium. OK, I wasn't curious at all, and knew she was full of it.
"Well she's short, so even like one drink and she's going to seem drunk," was her response.
I just shook my head. That's all I could really do. Had I opened my mouth, a stream of obscenities laced with logic might have escaped.
This future Marcia Clark then said that her friend was going to refuse the sobriety check. "Alright then," I said, "let's make it official. I'll request the check, and then you can refuse. These guys [the cops] know the law pretty well. And we'll take it from there." By now, there were officers available to administer (or not administer) the check. I requested the check, told the cop that the girl was stumbling in line, and suddenly the DA was silent. Good thing she won't be a defense attorney, because her client was placed into protective custody.
It wasn't all sobriety checks and arguments. There was a guy wearing a Red Sox hat and a St. Louis Rams polo. We talked for a little bit as all hell was breaking loose around us. I asked him if he was coming to the Patriots/Rams preseason game on Thursday. It turns out his son plays for the Rams, and he was just checking out the Stadium. "This is not a typical event," I informed him.
After a few hours at the gate, the ingress slowed. But these late arrivals were also the people dedicated to guzzling that last six pack before heading in. There was a guy being talked to by a few cops. I was several yards away. Then I noticed the guy walking toward the parking lots. At first I thought he'd been released, or maybe the cops had just been chatting with him in an unofficial sense. Then I noticed some of our staff walking after him. So something was wrong.
The guy walked quicker, so we walked quicker. Then he ran. So we ran.
For a few dozen yards, we were gaining on him. Then his sandals fell off. That made him faster and he started to pull away. While two of us continued the straight pursuit, I veered to the right, hoping to cut him off. The lot was closed off in the direction he was running, so he'd eventually have to turn right.
The black line is the runner, the orange line is two of our staff, the blue line is my path.
The guy we were chasing was not a small guy. Nor was he slow. I'm not a big dude, and I'm not nimble. While running, I knew the odds of me making an open field tackle would be slim. But maybe he'd run between some SUVs, not see me coming from the side, then get jacked up.
But that would prove unnecessary. There was a tow-truck in the middle of the lot. The driver asked us if we were chasing the guy. We nodded. Then suddenly the truck sped off down the parking lot, after the guy. I don't know what the driver intended to do once he got there. Adrenaline can sometimes prevent you from thinking ahead.
Then some cops on bicycles sped by us, like the cavalry at the end of a black and white Western, and saved the day. They reached the runner, dismounted, cornered him, and put him in cuffs.
With a light flow at the gates, we went inside. It wasn't too hot out, but the running had me sweating a good lather. We went up to the 300s for the rest of our evening.
At first it was quiet. I talked to the supervisors up there to get the mood of the section. It seemed like we might spend our time clearing stairways and telling people not to smoke on the concourse. I sent half my team on break. Then I went on break with the other half of my team.
I'd eaten 3 of the 4 slices in my small pepperoni pizza when a call came over the radio and it was back to work time.
A bit later on, we got a report from a fan of someone doing something in the last row of 307. So me and one of my team perched ourselves at the front of the section and watched (it was in between acts, so the house lights were on). As that was happening, we saw someone throw a cup at someone else. Talk about right place, right time. Everyone in the section pointed out the two culprits. We brought them down to the concourse and dealt with them. They'd thrown at a particularly large man, who we had to prevent from exacting his revenge.
Then there was the drunk guy in the Kevin Garnett jersey. Who was helped out by his buddy in the Rondo jersey. Ubuntu!
There was a group of people crowding an ADA platform in one section. We and the other supervisors talked to them about half a dozen times. And each time, they gave us increasingly more attitude. Especially one guy wearing a Terrell Davis jersey.
We got into a bit of a debate about the difference between standing in the platform, or standing behind it. "What's the big deal if I'm standing in there?"
"What's the big deal if you're not?"
I said to TD: "This is the last time we're talking to you."
With the platform clear, we walked a few sections away, with the intention of returning quickly and dealing with anyone who'd returned to the platform. But when we got back, Terrell Davis was giving one of our supervisors a hard time. That was it for him.
The entire night, I dreaded all the paperwork I'd be required to fill out. The concert ended at 11:00pm. I didn't leave the building until 1:40am.
But now it's time to look ahead to my 4th season of doing this stuff. No more concerts at Gillette until next summer. BC football starts soon, the NFL's regular season shortly thereafter. There's still the Jets game to anticipate, along with visits from the Colts and Brett Favre's Vikings. But these events will pale in comparison to Countryfest.