Able to leap a split coke in a single bound, look up in the Aisle, it’s Usherman!!
Nope, despite that dramatic intro, I left work today for the part time fun in my First Niagara Center finery to work the Sabres-Senators game. As far as supplemental income, it’s pretty great, you don’t have to work terribly hard. No heavy lifting, just know where the bathroom, the people watching is hilarious, and there are other people who’s job it is to escort the overserved and unruly away from the premises.
Now, the bulk of the force is pretty established, many having been working events since the Aud, so with just 35 or so over the past year, I’m a bit of a newbie, but just established enough to get some decent spots, always get to see the event in question as some folks get a door. Me, I’d be scared the door might just be smarter than me so it is good to be doing what is roughly a bit of stand up act for a thousand people except on a one to few basis. So, I get a good spot tonight.
My regular vocation has me well-schooled in the art of the schmooze and that comes in handy as you get folks of all sorts. With tonight’s game, it was premo territory, where the Sabres would shoot twice and one of the big questions was were was there regular guy along with “good to see you again” as I had worked the same post a couple of weeks ago. Head usher swings by and give me a quick “you look tired.” Told her I had a full day of real work prior, but I’m ready and with that the doors open.
But the people watching. There is a almost cult like following to the warm up skate before the hockey game. Fans of all types line the entrances from the dressing rooms to the ice in a hope of getting close to a favorite player or a fist bump as they enter or exit the ice. This makes sense if you are an little boy seeing your heroes or a teenage girl with a crush, but the guys my age looked a little silly. The folks who wander down just to have a look before retiring to their seats at the top of the Arena make sense to me. You want to see them a little closer to remind you they are human as it does look like a different game from various levels of the place. It is hard not to smile at the little kids who come down the tunnel with their eyes as wide as saucers, seeing the place they’ve only previously seen on television. By the same token, slap that expression of wonder on a 40 year old face and it is downright hysterical. But, with a nod to good karma, I found a puck that had gone over the boards and was able to give it to a little guy who has a really bitchin’ object for show and tell.
I enjoyed chatting with two guys from the exotic land of Akron, Ohio. We bonded over the shared ancestral homeland and their first hockey experience. I brokered a seat swap on behalf of a guy with a prosthetic leg, connected with a bunch of folks on the need for hockey manners, especially waiting for the break in the play to let people return down the aisle, and with a rotating band of participants held sporadic roundtables on which Sabres would you trade. While folks were either decked out in Sabres garb or the occasional evil doer in Senators garb, there were a few who just grabbed was available. And for that I have to give mad props to the gentleman sporting the California Golden Seals jersey. That was old school as I think the Seals went out existence somewhere prior to my turning 10.
Much has been written of late about the Sabres game presentation of late. When you think of all the time honored chants of everything from “Let’s Go, Buffalo” to “1,2,3,4, we want 5” to even “Hey Seymour, we want cheeseburgers” they all popped up when the Sabres were winning. That solves a lot. When the team is in a prolonged slump like they are, the building gets a little quieter, the music selections lame and more intrusive and the Carruba Collision isn’t a great idea when one of the colliders gets hurt. When the Sabres held a 2-1 lead, the place was jumping. Then the team started to get pushed around by the Senators. When Drew Stafford went to sleep on Ottawa’s winning goal, nobody remembered or cared what crappy pop songs got played.