Here is an excerpt from my eBook Send The Beer Guy. It’s just $3.99 (Kindle edition) via Amazon.com. If you don’t have a Kindle or have never bought an eBook it’s very easy. Just download the Kindle App for your iPhone or iTunes or just google Kindle for Windows or Kindle for Mac. If you are reading this then you already have the technology to get an eBook.
This is an excerpt from the book covering my first day as a Shea Stadium vendor. Enjoy!
Opening Day, 1987: Peanuts!
April 7, 1987
It was time to get a job, and a few friends of mine had finished 1986 working at Shea Stadium. The way you got a job there in those days was that you called the “secret” number and the voice asked who referred you. You gave the number of someone who already worked there. Then you were invited out to Shea to fill out some paperwork, do some vending practice, and then off you go see you at the games.
The referrals made a lot of sense. As vendors we were carrying around a lot of cash on good faith. In theory someone could have sold some product and then walked out the door with several hundred dollars. The referral system meant that if I did that then the guy who referred me was on the hook for the money I stole. It policed itself, and I am no thief.
Vending worked on a seniority system. You’d ask for what items you wanted to sell and where you would like to sell it. The top guys all took beer on the field. By the time it got to me it was usually soda.
Man how I hated selling soda.
This was back in the day of the cellophane cup tops. Cellophane cup tops barely worked.
You would come in to get a tray, and depending on the quality of the machine and how much the tray-assembler-dude gave a shit on any particular day you would have some pretty shaky cellophane tops.
20 or so cups in a metal tray which you’d have to keep perfectly balanced so you didn’t spill the soda and get soaked. Guess what – the soda would spill and you’d get soaked.
The trick was to ditch the shakiest lids first. If you had a solid cellophane top you held on to it. Pass out the loose-tops first.
As we walked around some cups would lose a little volume here, a little volume there. Backbreaking work carrying these metal trays up and down all those stairs, and don’t forget the annoying railings I mentioned in the first chapter.
Eventually you would have a cup that you couldn’t possibly hand a customer no matter how much you might not give a hoot. Those would come back to the vending station where they would be filled with some combination of syrup, seltzer and or ice, again depending on who was working and how crappy the machines were.
There was a glorious system in place that oppressed the vendors. It had the nickname Subway.
The nice man who made your soda trays for you? You had to tip him “Subway.” I think it was a quarter a tray, maybe even fifty cents. I was only making three bucks a tray myself, so to have to hand over a few dollars at the end of a night for a guy hanging out in a room occasionally pressing some cellophane lids to some cups was really annoying. Here’s your Subway. Fat Tony from the Simpsons would be proud. Fat Tony from The Sopranos would be proud.
These days I look at the vendors and their bottled sodas and how easy and clean they must be to pass around.
Not me, I came home every night covered in soda and yuck.
At least we weren’t wearing our own clothes. The shirts were ours – you had to buy those – but we wore community pants. Yep, community pants. The thought of it now makes me wonder.
We would go in the vendors room and grab some white painters pants. If you were lucky they even had your size. I wore 34’s then but sometimes had to deal with a 36 or 38 using my vending apron as a belt, and sometimes a 32 with a few buttons open and the apron holding them up. Rarely was it comfortable and never was it stylish.
There I was on Opening Day 1987 with Bob Ojeda on the mound. You would think Dwight Gooden would be starting but that was the spring that we found out Gooden had a drug problem. The Dynasty was over before we even realized it.
While I would spend much of 1987 selling that horrible soda, I was assigned peanuts on the field level, a pretty good assignment for a newbie.
I had peanuts on the left side of the field and remember stopping to watch the pennant go up the flag-pole. Wow, the Mets were the World Champions. Five bins of peanuts sold and it was time to go home.