Friday, January 07, 2022

Fired From Climate Pledge Arena

Yesterday my Climate Pledge Arena boss emailed me wanting to have a phone call at like 10 am or something today, on a Friday. So it brought me very much joy to remind her, no, I have a real job, so no, that won't be happening. We rescheduled to 5pm or something. Ok. This was perfect because Lydia was back from school by the time she called, so I put it on speaker phone so she could hear.

I was about 90% sure that this was concerning me talking to Dave Chappelle before his New Year's Eve show that I worked. It was a wild night though, so it wasn't impossible that this conversation was going to be about a fight I may have witnessed or some of the patrons I saw get ejected. It was about Dave. When my boss said she also had HR on the line I knew that this was going to be entertaining. I had liked this lady at the time of hiring, but she had gotten worse over time and by now she had a definite air of superiority over our team. She was full time, we were all part time and benefitless. The pitch of her voice would get really high and fake around other arena white collar office workers, but around us I found her to be pretty dismissive. I earned a master's degree in data science had just accepted a data engineering role at Microsoft about a month and a half ago so I was even more amused by how important she thought "arena usher manager" was. It was actually kind of fun to be in this pretty crappy job but know that none of it mattered. So this all was part of her big girl manager routine. She no doubt heard you were supposed to fire people on fridays so that there would be less chance of me wigging out. So while she listed off the charges leveled against me and used big business words, I decided to kill these two dimwits with kindness. "We've decided to separate you from the team" or some nonsense. "Great!" Several times there were long pauses where she seemed to think that I didn't understand what was happening or had never heard such a dismissive retort. Oh I understand, I just don't care.

Lydia and I were like silently laughing to each other throughout this call and having a great time. At one point they said I was no longer welcome in the staff areas of the arena and if I tried to go there I would be trespassing. Fair enough. Then they said they wanted me to hand deliver my uniform to a desk at the arena which seemed to me to be in a staff area. Um no. I thought that this was a pretty good microcosm of their whole superiority delusion. You're fired, now we want you to commute from your home to the arena, park at your own cost, walk to this particular office, hand deliver your uniform, then drive home. A non entitled moron would just email me a shipping label. The uniforms sit in my closet to this day.

Another funny point that Lydia especially enjoyed was when they told me that although I was fired, I was still allowed to buy tickets and attend events like a normal person. I think they must just be going through their "let's help this broken man cope" routine despite the fact that I do not care about any of this.

The fun of the job had long ago wore off and the grind of additional rules and other nonsense increased, so getting fired for talking to what some call the best comedian alive is a fantastic way to go out. I'm not sure if I've written about this, but the ads they put out while trying to hire staff said that they were going to provide meals and then they, just didn't. All of these working class people were then just stuck making crap money in a place with wildly overpriced food.

I ended the call with an extremely warm "thank you, and have a great weekend!" I've never really been fired from a job before so it was extremely fun to go through the experience in a scenario that didn't actually negatively impact my life.

I was a bit bummed out that I didn't end up getting a picture with Dave because I had no evidence that the interaction ever happened. Well now I had some official documentation of the incident. I call that a win. What a way to go out!

I thought it was especially funny that I didn't get caught due to some kind of security measure, but because I told two supervisors my crime! One of them jokingly was like "I'm writing this in my notes" and I was like "don't do that I'll get fired". What a couple of rats. One of my rats was the guy who forgot about me while I was freezing in the parking garage the next day, so that was especially good. 

In the end I think I was purposefully just ignoring a lot of the rules because it was a way to stay sane, keep a sense of power over my own life in a weird situation, and if they wanted to fire me for it then go for it. I did spend a lot of time speaking with janitors, cooks, security guards, roadies, food service workers, and all manner of guests from different walks of life. Where I live in Kirkland is kind of a sleepy fancy pants area so I'm very grateful for the chance to interact with normal folks from Seattle. It also forced me to go to the city a ton of times and learn about the area, where to park, where to avoid, some fun spots that I could show others... really what I was hoping for in the first place: a sort of fast lane way to integrate myself with the city I hope to be my permanent home.

Sunday, January 02, 2022

Today we attempted to drive to the Summit at Snoqualmie in order to go skiing. The weather was pretty bad in the mountains but I just went slower and slower but figured I would get to the top eventually. Well eventually we got to an area where there were signs that said we could go no further unless we had snow chains or 4 wheel drive. That would have been nice information to have at the bottom of the mountain! We quit and drove back down. Sad.

Saturday, January 01, 2022

A Fancy Parking Garage

I worked another event at Climate Pledge Arena today. The Kraken played the Vancouver Canucks. For those of you keeping track at home this was my third day in a row working an event which I think is a record for me. This job involves so much time on my feet that they hurt pretty bad the next morning. It turns out it's a cumulative effect.

I don't usually get stationed in the VIP parking garage but I actually kind of like it. There are less people around to tell you what to do, and it's the easiest work. You pretty much just stand around, ask people what seat they're headed to, and radio it to a person who will then escort them to their seat if they wish. At this point the regulars already know where they're going so they usually decline this offer. The players park here as well so I get to see them pretty regularly. Not because I can recognize many of their faces but because they all dress in fancy clothes and have the same shaggy haircut.

After the game I saw a new event: the TSA set up a little security station next to the team bus to check the Canadians out before they left the country.

Part of this assignment is also BSing with the valets. I told them I didn't know any of the players and they whipped out a nice little cheat sheet. They are really living the life out here. There's so little for them to do once the game starts that they had a little laptop they were watching a movie on.

Today I spoke briefly to Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon. You can tell he's the fanciest of them all because he has a driver/bodyguard sort of dude who follows him around, he has a fancy... I want to say Mercedes SUV with a light up hood ornament. His driver also doesn't park the car in an actual spot, he just sort of parks it next to the wall almost blocking everyone else. He also always lets out his passengers then wheels it around so that it is facing toward the exit. I wonder if that's some sort of tactical thing so he can escape quicker if necessary. I had assumed that he was just there because Amazon is the naming sponsor of the arena and Amazon also rents out a couple of the suites, but it turns out he's also a minority owner of the team.

It was really cold out there in the garage, and one guest refused to come out and get her car, so I just kept waiting. Eventually even the valets left so I took that as my sign to leave too. When I got back to where the rest of my team was I realized that they were all gone and had forgotten about me. Nice.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Met Dave Chappelle on New Year's Eve

At the end of November I received an email from my big boss at Climate Pledge Arena saying that a last minute show had been booked on New Year's Eve with an unknown performer, asking us to sign up to work the shift. Uh, no thanks. Over the proceeding weeks more details emerged: we would get paid time and a half and the performer would be Dave Chappelle. Uh, yes thanks.

Dave Chappelle is my favorite comedian. I have fond memories of driving around in highschool listening to his stand up specials, and in college I remember Chappelle Show was stupidly popular. We quoted lines from it to each other obsessively. In particular I recall a Phi Alpha Literary Society business meeting being brought to a standstill by people yelling lines from the episode where Chappelle impersonates Lil Jon. "WHAT?!" I was also super excited to find out who the "friends" the show promised were going to be.

Lydia was a pretty good sport about me abandoning her on New Year's to pursue my comic hero. We prepartied with some champagne.

Dave recently made fun of people with an underdeveloped sense of humor so there was a bit of controversy about his visit.

As I have documented, this job is extremely boring and involves standing around doing nothing for extended periods of time while not being allowed to look at your phone. I'm not a lawyer but I believe this is defined as torture under the Geneva Convention. Anyhoo, there was a nice old Japanese man that worked as an usher in my area, so one of my favorite ways to kill all that horrid time was to speak my terrible Japanese at him.

One thing that was new about this show was that they were locking up everyone's phone in a little magnetic bag so that you didn't try to record the show. That only applied to the guests, it seemed, as the magnet bag company people were not present at the staff entrance. There was abnormally tight security at the staff entrance for this show only, however, and they were checking our ID badges. I wonder if that was in response to an incident or just a precaution. I actually had a sort of fantasy about how this show could go for me. I was going to meet Dave and get a nice selfie with him, but I didn't want to be in my stupid work uniform in the picture, so I bought a Kraken hockey jersey that I would... have hidden somewhere nearby that I could pop on at a moment's notice. I'm usually not the excitable type so all of this silliness was definitely out of character. It was fun to dream though so whatever.

I usually laugh when they give us these backstage credential sheets because there's no way I would ever remember all of these complicated rules, and I don't care to enforce them anyway. But look at how rad that all access pass looked!

There were a few little extras out for the staff in a dining room we didn't usually have access to. There was food but I had already eaten. I was excited about the hat selection though.

There were a couple of openers but one of them was Patton Oswalt which I thought was super cool because he was actually doing a show earlier today. Some suckers paid just to see Patton but here he was just a free appetizer to get us hungry for Dave. Ok so the arena is kind of oval shaped, as they often are. My world on the lowest floor is kind of like a big donut. There's the seats surrounding the center ice rink area, and then on the outside of both is this big hallway that all the service people use. Usually I can pretty much go wherever I want in this hallway to get various places, including the staff locker rooms and the break rooms. Well on concerts and shows like this the area directly behind the stage is no man's land. This is annoying because it makes my walk to some of those places really long. Also very tempting to me was the fact that while security was posted to keep guests out of this area, they were still letting me through. There was sort of a hierarchy of staff that I was, or at least imagined I was, towards the top of. I know for a fact we made more money than security or the normal level ushers, for example. Also tempting was the fact that our big boss was sick or something and so was not present to scold me for the slightest infraction of her ever changing stupid rules. So I was taking shortcuts through the off limits area anytime the whim struck me. I chatted at the security people a lot anyway out of boredom, so I asked some of the sentries back there if they'd seen Dave. One guy had stopped Dave's wife from entering a restricted area because she didn't have credentials, so Dave had to come out and vouch for her. Very cool! This only served to increase my level of daring. I think I went back there after Patton's set was over just in case he was milling around back there. No dice.

Later in the night my mandatory 30 minute arrived and I again took the forbidden shortcut to get to the breakroom. This time, he was back there. I think the reason he was out in the open instead of the green room or somewhere relaxing was that he's a big smoker, and he was smoking right near where they park the zambonis. Now this was still covid times, and I was serious enough about it that I was wearing not one but two masks, the outer mask on this occasion being the custom Chappelle masks they were handing out to guests. Dave was accompanied by two massive dudes I later learned were his bodyguards. So I wasn't trying to get up in his face unless invited, so spoke to him from a distance that was a bit farther than normal. The day dream of meeting Dave Chappelle that I had harbored for weeks was actually somehow happening. I played it super cool though so that Dave would know I was a normal guy and not some crazed fan in a plastic top hat. The first words out of my mouth were “oh my god it’s fucking Dave Chappelle!”, and he laughed. Then I said “hey Dave can I take a picture with you?” and he said “no I’m about to go on.” Then I said “break a leg man” and he said “thanks” and that’s the story of the time Dave Chappelle politely told me to eff off.

I was so excited that I continued to the breakroom and wrote out the entire very brief and embarrassing encounter on my phone so that I wouldn't forget. I was so happy and probably shaking a little bit, like when you get dealt an especially good hand at poker. I was so happy in fact, that when walking back to my post I passed by my shift manager Dan, who I'm pretty friendly with, and recounted the whole story. He thought it was cool and told me so, and the rest of the night went great. Dave had a recurring joke where anytime he said the new covid variant "omicron" in a story the DJ would play some techno and Dave would do the robot. Another amusing incident involved the bodyguards I'd seen earlier backstage. Dave joked that one of them could sing really well, and that the guy would kill you and then sing beautiful spirituals at your funeral. At one point the guy got up on stage and whispered something to Dave which kind of freaked me out because I thought there might be a security threat or something, but then he took the mic and sang a spiritual. It was really funny.

There were a few outbursts that I assume were related to the haters I referred to earlier. I've never been posted on any floor other than the lowest, but there are a few select luxury areas on the upper floors. I saw a video later on social media with two drunk ladies fighting outside of the fancy Moët & Chandon Impérial Lounge and a couple of my coworkers were visible in the background. What a night!

Patton got a pic with Dave. Must be nice!

Well I'm annoyed that I don't have any actual evidence of meeting Dave Chappelle but I swear it really happened!

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Back at Hockey

Covid really jacked up the NHL schedule and I feel like I hadn't worked a Kraken game in a while.

There was evidence of tomorrow's New Year's Eve show featuring Dave Chappelle.

The Calgary Flames were today's bad guys.

There had been what I think were pieces of this giant tentacle thing in the hallway backstage for a while so I was interested in what it was going to look like. The team still wasn't using it as part of the opening show though so I was left wondering.

Back home I relaxed by the fire in my brand new Kraken sweater. It was a pretty expensive splurge but at least I got an employee discount.