I got the call for ushering duty for the Sabres/Coyotes matchup. One of the cooler things about this duty, other than you really aren’t working to hard, is the people watching fest that unfolds in front of you.
Part of the fun of this for me is watching the show get prepped as the Arena, er, Center gets itself ready for the 18,000+ visitors. Those of us in blue meet a little bit before the doors open en mass, get briefed on what might be happening and then it’s showtime. I tend to be all over the building, but was dispatched to one of the corridors that faces the front of the place last night, so it was going to be little busier. And that was cool and from down on the main level, the game looks almost life size.
There is typically an hour from when the doors open to when the event starts and it is kind of cool to see people stream in. A couple of times last night, a couple of parents were bringing kids to their first game ever. And to see young eyes go wide as saucers seeing what they had previously only seen on tv was a kick. You can’t help but smile watching somebody trying to soak everything in for the first time. The entertainment also comes from the little things, like how fast you make temporary friends (one guy worked for former employer of mine, to which another had some opinions of that employer’s now jailed owner), to showing off your photo skills (telling a fan how to pose so we can get the picture of them, the logo on the ice and the scoreboard all in one picture), to explaining the significance of Milt Ellis to those unfamiliar (for reference, head over to http://www.staffannouncer.com for a primer on Ellis’ importance). The topper for me was the beer vendor who recognized me from my days peddling cable from across the hall in the Adelphia Zone. In the intervening five years, I’ve at least changed places.
One of the folks in my gathering was sporting a jersey from the now-long defunct California Golden Seals, so I regaled him with the story that the Seals were the opponent for my first Sabres game, back when my eyes were wide from things other than the current bags. He told me how he knew of the team as they came with his table top hockey game as a kid. His wife looked at both of us and decided “You guys are old.” She’s right on that score.
A lot of my blue jacketed breathen have been doing this work since the Aud days so there isn’t a huge amount of turn over, but you can see why. At only 30 some events, I’m still a newbie (hope to make the cool kids clique at some point). There is a little common-interest community going on there regardless how well or poorly the home team is playing. And why they stink at home is a bit of mystery. I think the other events are the price paid to talk hockey.