November 07, 2010

What I Won

Many's the night I'd trudge the upper deck of Candlestick Park with the coffee urn strapped to my back, the heavy metal cylinder filled with a couple of gallons of atrocious once-hot miner's-camp-quality coffee I was expected to sell to the sparse crowd of regulars already overly familiar with its flavor who populated the upper deck of the place in those years. My supply had its uses in the mixtures they'd make of it with their bottle of something or other pulled as easy as you please in public from a pocket and poured into the solution of melted styrofoam and Foster's Restaurant Blend Coffee I had to offer. And of course there were always the innocents, the ones I'd never yet served the stuff, thinking to cut the uncanny chill of a nighttime game at Candlestick Park with what they'd soon realize they'd expected to be a much, much hotter fluid, however palatable. Even with all that I could expect to make $3.00, or, with a little rushing around from point of possible sale to point of possible sale, as much as $4.00 a night vending the stuff.

[In the freezing chill of the second deck at Candlestick at night, the starched white of the vendors uniform was soon enough splattered with errantly dispensed coffee. No matter how closely the cup was held to the spigot, there was always enough intervening wind to affect the discharge of the liquid stuff. Wet cold coffee covered the clothing of the coffee urn carrier at Candlestick.]

For most vendors, the night was done by the end of the seventh inning, all the crowd's appetite for popcorn or programs or peanuts or hot dogs having been pretty much accommodated for the night, the peak of demand settling in the third through fifth innings, then tailing off to the ignorably few potential customers in the eighth or ninth who weren't worth the trouble anyway. At the end of the seventh, most vendors would cash out and go home for the night, or come back out to the far end of the right field stands and watch what was left of the game if it was at all interesting.

Oh, the beer vendors, serving a constant demand, would come early and work as late as needs be, all through extra innings, sure, stationed at the exits to the parking lot at game's end in any case to get the last wave of customers before shutting down for the night.

But for the lad toting the coffee urn up and down the steps of Candlestick's steep upper deck, any hope for the immediate sale of a supply of coffee large enough to justify cashing out by the end of the seventh was met for most of the game with an informed resistance to the stuff among the regulars who made up the overwhelming majority of the smattering of people who ever sat in the second deck in those years.

Only with the passage of hours and innings, under the very predictable onslaught of a night's weather at Candlestick Park, colder and windier and somehow wetter without exactly raining, and, of course, as the night gets, darker, too, all on matching gradients running up through the innings, would even the most recalcitrant of regulars finally reach a point where they might seriously consider coffee, even knowingly cry out for some, if only for the cup to pour something stronger in. But that's the way it was every night. Aw, the coffee urn carrier in his coffee-soaked clothing, waiting through the long cold innings it took to make customers out of that crowd.

Worth it now.

1 comment:

rampster said...

as near the truth of the matter as allowable I'll attest