So the high school dance team did well at a camp earlier this summer and received a bid to Nationals for one their dance routines. As you may have guessed, Nationals draws teams from all over the country. I still don’t understand the entire qualifying procedure but I’m crystal clear on the cost involved. They are in Orlando at the end of January. For us its actually convenient since Rye was already headed there regardless. She’s not only a member of her high school’s dance team, she’s also on a different studio competition dance team. Both are headed to Nationals. So woo hoo I guess.
How do I get drawn into this? Well, the high school dance coach, in an effort to raise money to help all the families afford the trip to Orlando, has scheduled a lot of fundraisers. And by a lot I mean roughly 17 a week. Could be on the high side there. Anyway, one of those funders is the opportunity to clean up the stands at Principal Park which is the home stadium for the I-Cubs, the AAA team for the Chicago Cubs. And by cleaning up the stands, I mean picking up other people’s garbage. You’ve left sporting events and you know how much sh…I mean garbage is left behind. Pretty sure I have a far higher appreciation of that amount than you do. Hot dog remnants, empty beer cans with that last bit of smelly warm beer in the bottom, plastic nacho trays with the leftover cheese-like substance all become much more gross when they’ve been abandoned. And nothing smells like the end of the night than a plastic cup of warm beer left sitting on a humid August evening.
Oh, and as a bonus we get to do this around 9:45 pm on weekdays once the game ends. Here’s a quick structural breakdown of cleaning up a stadium. You get latex gloves and double up on each hand. People are slobs, you need to protect yourself. Then you get a garbage bag big enough to hold a Volkswagen and walk up and down the aisles picking up all the sh…I mean garbage people leave behind. As a reminder, people are slobs. Then, once filled, you take your bag to a big giant trash container with wheels and throw it in there. Then you wheel it to a spot behind the right field stands and it gets deposited in the trash compacter. The area immediately surrounding the compacter emits the wonderful stench of warm beer, ketchup and tobacco spit. So it smells like the end of Hank Williams Jr. concert. Or Mississippi I guess.
Sure the job is relatively easy and doesn’t take much in terms of logistical planning or intellectual effort but it just isn’t very pleasant. You get that weird foul hand sweat inside your latex gloves. You have to take care not to splash the warm beer on your legs as you dump it out. Yeah, our instructions were to just dump out the liquids. I found an ice cream cup that was completely melted and since it was now in liquid form I briefly considered just dumping it out. But I figured that might be taking the instructions a bit too literally so it went into my garbage bag. Which in turn meant I was lucky enough to smell warm vanilla-like substance the rest of the evening. Also what’s the deal with all the Coors Light? I mean it’s a farm team for the Cubs so naturally I assumed a good amount of Old Style would be consumed. But Coors Light easily outpaced the other empty beer cans. Also surprised at the sheer amount of ketchup that gets used. Or, more accurately, the amount that gets left on napkins. Admittedly it’s a suspect sample, but it would appear people always get more ketchup for their hot dogs and fries than they can ever hope to consume. I mean, I like ketchup as much as the next guy but c’mon man, you guys are using it like construction adhesive. The amount of ketchup left in these french fry baskets could secure the fry basket to the bottom of an F-14 to such a degree it could survive take off from an aircraft carrier. In a tornado.
It didn’t really get too stinky until we got to the general admission section. This is essentially a beer garden with picnic tables. I think we counted at least 27 cups of beer left over. You really can’t appreciate the full aroma of warm beer on a summer night until you dump out 27 cups of beers. That’s when that wave hits you and suddenly it smells like July of ’88 when you and your friends drank a case of Milwaukee’s Best in a cornfield because that’s what you do when you’re 18.
My reaction to this experience was to fake convulsions, blindness and the occasional random full body spasm. Kidding but I did ask Mom how big of check do I have to write in order to avoid this again. Still waiting on that number.