Jeremy always says he’s incredible. Sometimes I doubt that, but his insistence starts to wear off on you after a while. The first day I found it weird, even a little creepy. But over time you get used to it, and it becomes ingrained in your daily life. This is the attitude that I, as a wimpy intern, must adopt every day when coming to the Swamp. Over my first week here, I have had to do things that were unthinkable to me before arriving. But more on that later, the most important thing for me to do on my first day was learn everybody’s names and jobs.
When I first walked into the one-room office, I was greeted by a thinly-bearded man deep in conversation on the phone and a friendly, round face to my left who greeted me. This turned out to be Ethan, a fellow nerd. We immediately hit it off when I found out his ringtone was “The Ballad of Serenity,” the theme song from the TV show Firefly. The man on the phone soon ended his conversation, and he introduced himself to be Jeremy, the head honcho of the operation. Despite his nice outward appearance, Jeremy scares me a lot of the time because he’s my boss and he could fire me if I screw up. And trust me, there is nothing more terrifying than the prospect of being fired and having to go home to face my parents.
Alas, the day has come where I must say goodbye to my home for the first ten games, the concession stand. I knew my time in there would end soon, but it came up really fast. I enjoyed working with everybody in there, and I am definitely sad to leave, although I am excited to face the new challenges that running the concourse will present. Evidently, my staff was sad to see me go as well. Gary, the grill cook, took a pan and filled it up with ice and let it sit for a couple innings before luring me out of the concession stand to give me an ice bath in celebration of my last day. There was supposed to be a video of the occasion since he had premeditated the attack, but unfortunately the videographer was incompetent and managed only to shoot a two-second long video of his feet. It was still a great experience though, and it was the first time I’ve ever had ice or a beverage dumped on me for the purpose of celebration. I’ve had drinks dumped on me for other reasons, but we won’t talk about that. Let me enjoy the moment.
Today might have been the most interesting day at the Swamp yet! It was an off day, so we were doing upkeep around the stadium to get it ready for the game tomorrow. One of our tasks was to hang a sign on the second tier of signage behind the left field fence. The whole shebang started off on the wrong foot as I had a lot of issues getting the two ladders into the Gator so we could drive them out there. The ladders sit on the floor of the garage, and they are too tall to stand fully upright without hitting the ceiling. On my way to get the ladders in the Gator, I hit them multiple times on the ceiling, walls, boxes, and basically anything that was within a 50-foot radius. I was told that it looked like a Laurel and Hardy skit, so I’m glad my struggles made somebody laugh I guess.
Once we got out to the fence, we had to climb the ladders and perch precariously on them in order to hang the sign. There were two ladders and we had three people to get the job done, so naturally we had two people on the ladders and one person on the ground holding the ladder of the person who was leaning over more. This person on the ground was Emily, and to put it bluntly, she sucked at her job. If you ever want to feel like nobody cares about your well-being, ask Emily to hold a ladder for you. She was on her phone the whole time and called herself the “supervisor.” It all worked out though, because at the conclusion of the day I didn’t die, and I was even told that I am a stud beneath the surface! Finally somebody who can see through the outer wimp and to the true me!
When walking from my car into the office at the Swamp today, I noticed something peculiar. Emily’s polo shirt appeared to have the logo on the wrong side. After closer inspection, I realized she was wearing the shirt inside-out and did not even realize it. After alerting her to the situation, I continued into the office and began my day’s work when Ethan walked in. Somewhere the gods were having a good chuckle because somehow Ethan was wearing his shirt inside-out too. Never had anybody had a wardrobe malfunction until today, and they both screwed up at the same time. The odds of that happening are astronomical, but it made the situation so much funnier.
Later that day, another strange incident occurred. The Swamp played host to the High School Summer Showcase which featured the best high school players from the area playing against each other in an all-star game. Since it was a high school event, the sale of alcoholic beverages was prohibited. We left our refrigerated cart with kegs out on the concourse so it could stay plugged in and cool, but one sneaky fan tried to take advantage of that. As I was walking back in from the parking lot after unsuccessfully trying to track down a foul ball, I saw this fan filling a cup at the beer stand. He looked over his shoulder a couple times, then, sufficiently assured that no one saw him, proceeded up into the stands. His confidence proved to be false however, as the eagle eyes of the wimpy intern foiled his dastardly plot. I radioed for Jeremy to come over, and he escorted the fan from the stands thus ending the ordeal.
The office staff took another trip to see a game today. We traveled to Wilson to see the SwampDogs take on the Tobs. This trip ended up being a lot more exciting than Wilmington because Wilson was having “Weiner Wonka Night.” This meant that there were dollar hot dogs and golden tickets in some dogs that you could redeem for prizes. Well, tonight was my lucky night apparently! In one of the hot dogs I ate, there was a golden ticket that I could redeem for a Tobs item. I do not know how many they were giving away, but nobody else in our group of fifteen got one, so I feel pretty blessed. When I went to go redeem the item, they tried to give me two tickets to the July 4 game in Wilson. They quickly realized I had all my SwampDogs gear on and correctly figured I would not be coming back, so they gave me a Tobs ball instead. They even took my picture with it to post on Facebook, so I guess even wimpy interns can be minor celebrities!
For the first ten games of the season, I am in charge of running the concession stand for the stadium. Everybody in there for some reason respects me (as I covered earlier), and they are generally an awesome group of people. I will be sad when it’s time to leave because I’ve had so much fun learning the ropes and working with them. One of the things we make sure to do is to yell “HOT FRIES” or “HOT TENDERS” when something comes out of the fryer so there is a clear path to put them under the heat lamp as well as so the customer knows that they are fresh. I have to remind the employees from time to time to do this, but they generally enjoy yelling things so it hasn’t been too bad at all. Yesterday when I was standing at the counter wrapping hamburgers, James, the fry cook, pulled chicken tenders out of the fryer. Unfortunately, I was standing a little bit too close to him and hot grease splashed on my calf. After I washed it off and the pain subsided, a new catchphrase was born: “HOT CALVES!” Now whenever tenders are pulled out, there is a raucous chorus of “HOT CALVES” that resonates throughout the kitchen and leaves the customers flummoxed. Stuff like that is what keeps the atmosphere light and fun despite the hot and grueling work we’re doing, so I’m glad my hair got singed a little that one time.
The office staff always has a good time, even if it’s at the expense of one of our own. When picking up the phone, we are supposed to say “Fayetteville SwampDogs, where baseball is fun!” Sometimes that doesn’t go according to plan. The other day, Ethan picked up the phone and said “Fayetteville SwampDogs, where everything is…..where BASEBALL is fun!” We have no clue how the person on the other end of the line reacted, but the rest of the office had a pretty big laugh.
To continue the fun with the office staff, we took an outing to Wilmington to see the SwampDogs play their archrivals, the Wilmington Sharks, in the Shark Tank. It was very interesting to see how things were done in Wilmington after having been inside the workings of a very similar operation. I viewed the ballpark and the atmosphere in a much different light than I would have a month ago. I guess it’s possible to learn things even when you’re wimpy and screw up a lot. All in all it was a fantastic experience and taught me a lot about how people run businesses differently to reach a common goal. To top it all off, the SwampDogs won and we got to enjoy a fireworks show afterwards! Life can be really great as a wimpy intern sometimes.
I had an unforgettable experience the other night that so far has been the most memorable moment of the summer. There is no grounds crew at The Swamp, so the office staff and the players are responsible for pulling the tarp. There was supposed to be lots of rain overnight before Opening Day, so I got to pull a tarp for the first time. This was quite an ordeal as the tarp was very heavy and we were few in number since only the office staff and the coaches were around at the time. We got it into position though, and went back in the office to finish up our work for the day. Not half an hour had gone by before Jeremy made us all jump up and run out to the field again. He was worried that the weights we had put on the tarp would not be sufficient for the heavy winds that would be coming with the storm, so he wanted us to put picnic tables upside down on the tarp to make sure it didn’t blow around. By this point, the wind was already howling and the rain was so heavy I couldn’t see five feet in front of my face. But by golly, we were out there hauling tables onto the field and pulling back parts of the tarp that had already blown over. The wind and rain were so bad that Jeremy was yelling at me from ten feet away to come over and help him, but I couldn’t understand him at all and thought he wanted me to go to the other side. Despite the trouble communicating, we got all the tables situated after a short but tremendous struggle, and we all waddled back to the office soaked to the bone.