The other weekend Alan and I hit a Nats game. If you don’t know what that means, you probably A) Don’t live in the United States, B) Hate Apple Pie, or C) Were home reading The Communist Manifesto.
Actually, I’m not a huge baseball fan myself, but I do love any excuse to sit outside in gorgeous weather with something resembling a purpose. And it turns out? The Nats are actually pretty great this year. Although they ended up losing the game, the first two at-bats resulted in home runs, which is an amazing way to kick off a game.
The over-arching theme of the day, however, was not baseball. It was unhelpful jobs. As Alan said, “This whole idea of re-training the workforce might have gone a bit too far.” Everywhere we turned, there was someone in a somewhat unnecessary job, trying to demonstrate their expertise.
Maybe I’m over-reacting? Here are two examples – tell me what you think…
When we popped up out of the Metro station, a woman was standing in the middle of the closest intersection, indicating when it was safe for pedestrians to cross. It’s no secret that I have no use for crossing guards – usually they’re about 20 seconds behind me in realizing the light has changed, which breeds an inefficiency that drives me nuts. This woman did nothing to help the cause.
We stood at the corner, obediently waiting, despite the fact that there was no traffic. I’d normally just jaywalk, but with cops everywhere, I was worried I might actually get a ticket. (It’s worth nothing that we were in something of a hurry because we were supposed to meet someone in front of the stadium to pick up tickets, and we were cutting it pretty close.)
So we stood. And waited. And watched the minutes tick off. And in my mind I could practically see the ticket dude (whose only descriptor was that he had an all-white beard and would be wearing a Whole Foods beanie) scalping our tickets. Or – even more dramatically – just holding a lighter to them when we no-showed the rendezvous on time.
As soon as the light changed, I stepped off the curb, deciding to obey the crossing signal rather than the crossing guard. And of course I wasn’t disappointed. No sooner had I done that, than the woman blew her whistle and yelled, “Ma’am! Ma’am! Back on the sidewalk. You have to wait for the light!”
And without slowing down, I pointed at the light and said, “We’re good,” as I kept walking.
Alan apparently felt I was being an ass, because he yelled out, “Thank you for looking out for us.” I shook my head.
Once we were in the stadium, we scored a sausage and a beer just as the game was getting underway. We headed to our seats and were stopped by an older man wearing a jersey that said, “Ask me” on the back.
Without my asking, he said, “Can’t let you down while there’s a batter in the box,” he told us.
Alan and I traded a confused look. We’d never heard of that rule before, but it sounded polite, so who were we to argue? We waited patiently while the batter swung, and swung and swung. It might seem like a batter is up for only a second, but if you’re holding a sausage and feeling it grow cold while you wait, trust me: it feels like an eternity.
Meanwhile, a line of people was building behind us, all of whom were equally confused. “Can we slide past you to get to our seats?” one man asked, thinking we were just hanging out for shits and giggles. We explained why we were waiting. “Wow. I’ve never heard of that,” he said. “Didn’t realize we were so polite at the ballpark.”
We shrugged and shared a smile, looking at Mr. Ask Me for permission to proceed. He shook his head. Behind us, more people piled up. “Do you suppose there are places in the ballpark where this rule isn’t in effect?” I asked Alan.
He nodded. “Yes. It’s called Everywhere Else.”
You might expect me to round out an entry about useless stadium-related jobs by highlighting the mascots. But I’d actually argue that they serve a purpose. If I can define “purpose” as “entertainment.” Especially in DC, where the Presidents’ Race is a game day favorite. (Not familiar with it? Check out this Wikipedia entry and specifically read the section about Teddy Roosevelt.)
Also? Sometimes they do stuff like THIS, which is why I’ll always petition to fund the mascots:
In fact, perhaps if Mr. Ask Me or the Ms. Traffic managed to moonwalk off a dugout, I’d be defending their jobs too.