One Heck of a Hot Dog

Volunteering with Jody and friends.

It starts before we even leave the house. My breathing becomes short and rapid. I’m fidgety. “I’ll meet you in the car,” I tell her. I insert the key into the door lock.

“You can’t hurry me,” Jody responds. “I’ve got 5 more minutes.”

In the car we high five. “To a good game.”

This cheer is needed. We will spend the next 6-10 hours together fundraising for Juan and Crystel’s education.

Jody, Crystel, Juan and I began volunteering in April to serve food and beverage at concession stands. We’ve worked at the Excel Center, Target Center, US Bank, Allianz, Huntington Bank stadiums, Canterbury Park and others.

“Did you just push me?” Jody asks as we step out of the elevator. I thought I was guiding her through the security gate towards the check-in stand.

You learn a lot about yourself and each other at these events.

I will be amped up until we return to the car for the ride home. I’m in a flight or fight mode to get the customer his/her/their slice of pizza, hot dog, chicken tenders, or fries.

Jody feels the same adrenaline rush. We both become serious and determined. Sometimes we must remind ourselves, It’s just a hot dog.

There is no bigger distraction or challenge than working an event. From the time the doors open, and you serve your first customer until the ball is touched in the 4th quarter, 3rd period, or the hour before the venue closes, you will do nothing else besides attending to the task in front of you.

Usually, it’s a brief 20 second pleasant interaction with a customer.

Sometimes it doesn’t go well.

“Is this how big this all-beef hot dog is?” I was asked at the Vikings Cardinal game. The customer held high his still foiled hot dog. It did look especially small in his large fist.

“Dude, I’m a volunteer. I don’t make the hotdog.” Don’t squeeze it, I wanted to add. You’ll just make it smaller.

I’m not always at my best. At a Twins game, this guy and his two friends, who’d all had one too many, kept beeping the register scanner without waiting for his payment to go through. “Motherfucker, stop doing that,” I told him. He looked at me. I looked at him. “I guess I shouldn’t call you that,” I said. “I could get fired from my volunteer job.”

It can get a little dicey at alcohol cutoff time when a customer isn’t ready to be cut off. At the Minnesota hockey game against North Dakota, a customer demanded that I call my boss. She knew about these things she said loudly. She had worked in concessions before. A hard cutoff was not really a hard cutoff.

“I’m just a volunteer,” I said. I busied myself restocking as she explained to the concession managers how these things worked.

Sitting in our living room, Jody and I will go over the event. Laughing until we cry. Sometimes it’s about how we acted towards each other during the evening. Me telling her how important it is that she marks a Twin burger a Twin burger and not a Capitol burger. She in turn will tell me that I need to stop putting the pizzas in the oven one after another as she doesn’t have enough time to take them off at the other end.

The challenge, the unpredictability, volunteering with friends, and the variety of social groups we encounter make concession fundraising enjoyable.

Not a bad way to spend an evening. This year, we are well on our way to raising tuition for both Juan and Crystel’s education. Now that’s one heck of a hotdog.

This entry was posted in Fundraising for college, volunteering and tagged , , by Elizabeth di Grazia. Bookmark the permalink.

About Elizabeth di Grazia

An artist, I follow the nudge inside of me. This nudge led me to write Peace Corps stories, find the front door to the Loft, and to graduate from Hamline’s MFA program. The story that became my thesis for Hamline is woven into my book manuscript: HOUSE OF FIRE: From the Ashes, A Family, a memoir of healing and redemption. It’s a story about family. And a story about love–for my partner Jody and the son and daughter we adopted from Guatemala. Most days, I can be found working as a Human Resource Manager for a foundry in Minneapolis. When I am not at the foundry I may be volunteering as a Police Reserve Officer for Richfield, MN or kicking butt at Kor Am Tae Kwon Do.

2 thoughts on “One Heck of a Hot Dog

    • Bonnie so good to hear from you! Thank you so much for your continuing reading of the blog!

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