Monday, September 03, 2007


I opened my eyes and immediately regretted having a few drinks after work on Friday night. I rolled over and grabbed my cell phone and sleepily looked at it.

Shit. 1:30pm.

I had planned on being up and ready to go by 11am. Oh well, I guess nothing really goes the way you plan on game days in Athens. Especially not on the opening game of the season.

It was okay, though. Kickoff wasn't until 6:52pm so I had plenty of time to kill before I had to be at work.

The night before hadn't been much fun, however.

Herding cattle. That's what I did Friday night. I had sat at the door, directing drunk people who couldn't and didn't care to see more than a few feet in front of them, to the guy standing at the door checking IDs. I tried to picture each and every one of them with a cow head sitting on their shoulders instead of their young looking college-kid heads, eyes glazed over and mouth opening, constantly screaming and yelling at each other, us, girls walking by, anything, anyone. Constantly. I had found myself in a trance-like state for a lot of the night, which I found to be quite satisfying and helped me pass the time much more quickly.

I occasionally found myself pulling people out of line who were out of dress code or who appeared too drunk. Sometimes people didn't want to get in the back of the line so through my magnificent power of persuasion, I helped them to decide to go to another bar. Sometimes they didn't want to, but ultimately, I always won out. I was overwhelmed with the number of people out and was fucking exhausted when it was all was said and done by the end of my shift.

That had led to my decision to drink after work. To relieve the stress and to help me relax, my few drinks had turned into a few more than I had planned and Saturday morning I was paying for it.

I got ready quickly and made my way to the tailgate. A 3 mile trip which normally would take 5-10 minutes at most, since I was coming from the East side of Athens, ended up taking me almost an hour.

After meeting up with some friends, we eventually made our way to North Campus, where there were easily several thousand people standing around, drinking and doing some classic college football tailgating. Suprisingly, I wasn't excited and didn't feel the normal anxiousness that the start of football season normally brings me.

I'm getting too old for this shit, I thought to myself. I had been thinking that for some time now, but for some reason, regardless of how repetitive I seem, I still continue to say it, over and over.

The game started and my attention eventually wavered after it was obvious we were going to win. I mingled with friends downtown for several hours and eventually work called my name and I went in.

The night was much like the night before. Problems, suprisingly, were few and far between, but drunken, exhausted football fans were everywhere. The fire marshalls came and went, their job to fight overcrowded bars a futile one, in my humble opinion.

I was glad I was outside just in case anything really happened. Some time ago, they came in and showed us a video tape of the band Great White playing in a nightclub in Rhode Island. The tape showed the band beginning their set with pyrotechnics in the background going off, setting fire to soundproofing behind the stage. In an ironic twist, the man filming was part of a local television crew there to do a piece on nightclub safety.

As anyone could imagine, the fire quickly became bigger and the tape continued to roll. It showed the initial reaction of the crowd - which was suprisingly calm - and then, a short time later, the panic that spread as the fire continued to burn and consume the entire building. The customers hopelessly surged towards the front door with many being left inside, trapped by the enormous crowd attempting to fill a small space not made for an enormous crowd. The cameraman miraculously made it out and filmed the rest of the scene from the outside. The sight of customers, stacked like firewood in the front door while screaming and slowly burning to death and choking on the smoke was chilling, to say the least.

100 dead.

So as you can imagine, on a busy night like Saturday, I was happy to be outside.

I could see almost all the way down both sides of the street my bar resides on, and it seemed to be a never-ending ocean of football fans leaving the game and coming downtown to continue the party. 92,746 people leaving the stadium after watching a winning game and wanting to celebrate with a drink or ten at a bar. Of course, my bar could only handle a very small fraction of that amount, but that didn't stop all of them, it seemed, from trying to come in.

And so my night continued. People were thrown out. People were arrested. I yelled at some frat boys. They yelled at me. The drunk littered the streets everywhere I looked, and they occasionally vomited on the ground, themselves and each other. Those who were passed out sat on the curbs of the sidewalk, eyes half closed, heads resting against the random tree or parking meter while their friends tried in vain to hail overworked and overcrowded cabs.

At one point, there was nearly a riot when a kid was arrested for disorderly conduct. Telling a police officer you could kick his ass if they were in the octagon is another quick way to jail. Several police officers, including myself, shooed away the genius' friends from the officer making the arrest as they drunkenly proclaimed that they would testify in his defense, come his judgement day. "You my boy, dawg...don'tchu forget that! You my booooy! We comin' to getchu out!" they screamed as he sat in the back of the patrol car. Over and over.

And so I stood, just for a moment, thinking silently among the drunken choas and bulldog chanting that went on all around me on the sidewalks of downtown Athens after a winning game, that another football season had arrived and I, just another gatekeeper of a bar, would have to endure another 6 weekends just like the one I was having at that exact moment before I would get another moment to catch my breath.

I let out a huge sigh and continued on with my job.


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