Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Concession Stand Confessional (aka the Popcorn Diaries)

The level of people's stupidity never ceases to amaze me. I am the publicity officer for the Band Boosters for The Girl's high school band, so every Monday night through football season I have to attend these asinine meetings with four sensible people and two gap-toothed, baboon-assed, booger-eating morons. Unfortunately the Two are the president and vice president of the group and they appear more interested in bickering, bitching, fighting and hindering the work of the group than anything else. The president is just a twit and the vice president is the band director's wife - which is a conflict of interest since the band director is not allowed a vote - although the Two do try to push his agenda. The Two are disliked by the greater membership and there have been a number of people who have stated outright that they will not work with them because a) they are bossers, not leaders and 2) all they want to do is bitch and fight. I think it's because they're so used to bitching and fighting over every little thing that they don't know how to not, but what do I know?

At any rate, our most important fundraiser for our band kids is the home-side concession stand at football games. This year, we switched sides when the stadium renovation was complete and the home side was moved to the South side of the stadium. The new concession is newer and a little bigger but I can't honestly say it's any better. The electrical system wasn't exactly installed "to code" or by "licensed electricians," but it is what it is and after some fiddling about with what equipment can be plugged in where, and what combinations of things can't be plugged in together without tripping breakers, things finally ran smoothly at Friday night's game (of which I was in charge because our concession chair was out of town).

We've had issues for a few years now with equipment. The band director seems to think that with enough bubblegum, baling wire and "redneck engineering," that things should last forever. The Man and I are usually in charge of running the popcorn and snowcone machines. People in Fundietonfieldvilleview absofuckinglutely love popcorn and snowcones and since they're such high profit items, we take in loads of money that's almost pure profit. So much so that realistically we can't afford not to sell these two items. The popcorn machine started giving us problems from the first game this season. The screw that held the kettle dump handle in place stripped out so we couldn't dump corn into the cabinet and although the kettle got hot, it took forever to heat up and pop a batch of corn. The Man was trying to dump the corn by using pot holders but was burning himself. Before the following game, the band director "fixed" it but he fixed it incorrectly and it finally gave out during the first quarter of our homecoming game. My husband informed the concession chair that if that machine was still sitting there the next time he came to help, he would turn around and go back home.

Interestingly, as I was searching for a new machine for the concession stand, I ran across one of those really cool antique looking ones on a cart for $500 on Craigslist. It was only about a 2 & 1/2 hour drive away so The Man had me go down and get it the same day I was to go to ACE Mart for the new one for the concession stand (an hour the other direction). I need to find a better place to put it than the game room but I guess it's okay right there as long as no one's trying to play pool.
So anyway, with the band director insisting that the old machine was fine (which it's not, but then again he doesn't use it so he really doesn't know - he just likes to bitch and fight because apparently that's all they know how to do), I put together a presentation for the next meeting about popcorn, the popcorn machine, how much we sell, and how much we lose when we don't sell it. I left them wiggle room and when it was put to a vote, everyone voted yes except one abstention - you got it, one of the Two. So I trotted down to ACE Mart restaurant supply to buy a shiny new popcorn maker. As The Girl and I were carrying it in from my truck, I backed into some weight equipment in the field house and fell, with the popcorn machine falling on top of me. Fortunately it wasn't damaged, which is good because I ended up having to take it back because we didn't have the correct electrical outlet for plugging in the machine. Soooo I went back to ACE Mart and got a smaller one that used a regular grounded plug. The cool part though is that it heated up in no time and was popping corn immediately and so far we have not had any problems keeping up with demand. -Oh and it hasn't tripped any breakers. Can't forget that.

This is what my arm looks like when a popcorn machine falls on it.
This is what my ass looks like when I fall over weight machines in the field house with a popcorn machine on top of me. There were other bruises too but these were the worst.

The next equipment issue is the refrigerator. We don't have one. Instead, we have removed the bottom couple of racks from the 7-foot tall coolers provided to us by Coca Cola via the contract with the school. One of the stipulations of that contract is that non Coca Cola product is not to be kept in them -ever. That doesn't just mean no competitor's products, that also extends to non-competitor products such as ranch dressing, lettuce, cheese, or anything else not specifically produced and marketed by the Coca Cola company. However for at least the last 11 years, that's exactly where they've kept the ranch dressing, lettuce, cheese and everything else that would normally be kept in a refrigerator. Last week our Coke rep came by to meet with the concession chair to check on things, not only how well she was servicing us but how well we were complying with the contract. The band director and the Two were incensed about this visit, "What was she doing down there!?" Well, it's her fucking job and she also visited every other installation of these coolers, including the choir concession and the regular vending machines throughout the school district. She informed us that we should be thankful that her boss didn't see all that stuff in the bottom of both of our coolers because he'd yank those coolers out of there in a heartbeat. Where would we be then?

So I called a few people to ask them to keep their ears to the ground for a good refrigerator that we could pick up cheap. The next day, my dad called me back and said that he was unable to get us a refrigerator. Of course I thanked him for trying and told him I appreciated his effort et cetera. Then he informed me that instead he got us a $350 grant from the local VFW post for a new refrigerator. You'd think these thundercunts (thanks, Jess!) would be excited about such a generous windfall, but NOOOOOO! The band director informed us that we didn't need a refrigerator but we do need a freezer and that's where he wanted to spend the money. (Nevermind that we just bought a brand new freezer last year that works great, it's just a little small in that it can only hold enough product for one game at a time, not for the entire season.) Besides, there's a behemoth of a cabinet-looking thing that used to be a refrigerator in the storage room (where there's no electrical outlet) that belongs to the sports boosters that he wants to pay to try to get fixed and use the grant money to buy a freezer. So the discussion was tabled at last week's meeting. O_o

Uh - reality check, please? First of all, the nature of grants is that grant money must be used for the purpose for which it has been earmarked. Period. Second, in our local VFW (of which I'm a 3rd generation life member of the Ladies Auxiliary, so I know how they operate), an initial grant to anyone is never more than about $150-200, but since The Girl is my dad's only granddaughter and it was benefitting her band, dad got it approved.

What I couldn't seem to help them understand was that if we handle this well, then we are guaranteed more -and bigger- grants in the future. If we handle it really really well, they may host a benefit for us like a casino night or auction or something that couldn't be done through the school (When my high school band wanted to go to Disney, they raised over $10,000 for us - and that was over 20 years ago). On the other hand, if we handle this badly, as the band director and the Two are trying to do, we not only lose this grant but any potential future grants - not only from the VFW, but any other charitable organization. Most of these guys are members of more than one similar group. My dad is a member of the VFW, American Legion, Moose, Elks, and Masons - and he's just one guy. Not only that but these old guys are bigger gossips than the wimmin, so handling the grant badly will definitely get us blacklisted and possibly even sued for misappropriation. Yet the Two want to argue over something that isn't costing us anything because that's what they like to do - bitch and fight. I pointed these issues out to them last night despite numerous attempted interruptions by the Two and after a vote (can you believe it? A vote over a freebie??) I'll be going to pick up the new refrigerator this week and I'll be sure to give dad and the guys at the VFW some extra love in the newspaper. After all, it's to help the kids - isn't it?

Hopefully the last equipment issue is the fryer. We've been using these stupid home countertop fryers for french fries, cheese sticks, corny dogs and now fried pickles as long as anyone can remember and have spent anywhere from $150 to $300 every year of the four since I've been active in band boosters and probably every year for eons before that replacing them, because they just weren't designed to handle the load we put on them. We are down from four fryers to one fryer owned by band boosters, and one owned by one of the Two. My personal fryer is also at the concession as a backup but we're not going to be able to continue to work with these much longer. If we're not feeding people, we're not making money and our job in the concession stand is to make money. Isn't it? Sometimes I get confused.

Last year we discussed purchasing a heavy duty restaurant style tabletop fryer, but the school can no longer serve fried foods so they donated a big ol' commercial fryer to us. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it's been more trouble than it's worth. First, when it was deposited in the concession, it was filthygrossnassssty. We've done all we can to clean it up, but it's still dripping grease on the floor and the bottom reservoir has been soaking in industrial degreaser for 2 months and still won't come clean. Then we found out that we need a commercial vent a hood to run it. Somehow an "executive decision" was made (probably by the Two and the band director in his office without consulting any of the other officers) to purchase a used one for $800. It is still sitting on the ground outside the concession. My stepdad is a federally licensed electrician and he agreed to come give us an estimate to install it. He couldn't touch it for under $4700 because of the labor and parts involved. We'd still need to hire a plumber licensed with the Railroad Commission to come in and install the fryer itself, incurring yet more expense in parts and labor. On top of that, there would be no guarantee that the vent a hood would even work because it was purchased used and sight unseen and has been sitting outside in the weather for six weeks. With the exception of the Two, the officers wanted to list it on Craigslist, ebay or whatever and sell the behemoth for which we never voted (and the bigass fryer we cant' use if the superintendent will allow us to since it was given to us) and purchase an industrial tabletop fryer for $600. The Two still wanted to try to get the school district to pay that 5 grand or more, thus further delaying our ability to feed the masses. The vote was taken and we'll be buying a new fryer this week too. If we're not feeding people we're not making money. If we're going to feed people to make money it is essential that we have equipment that is functioning properly - or am I missing something?

Here's the thing though. This is my 5th year working in the concession stand and my second year to work every home game. Ever since I started, the reported take for a home game was always around $400 - $700 for a big game like homecoming. Madame president was concession chair for all but last year but the reported take was the same. This year we have a different concession chair and a different treasurer. Food costs have gone up, Fundietonfieldvilleview hasn't grown appreciably and concession traffic seems about the same. So why is it that we're bringing in anywhere from $1200 on a very slow night and $3500 for homecoming? Friday night's game we cleared $2598 and we sold nothing during the 4th quarter when our team started losing. I think the Two and possibly the band director are so protective of the money we earn because they think it's theirs - because maybe they have been putting it in their own pockets? Or maybe they act like every dime that comes in will be the last one because their worldview is one of scarcity. Maybe I'm confused again, and I hate to accuse people of wrongdoing without proof, but something doesn't look right.

Then, just when I thought everything was in the clear, some kind of big metal spring fell out of the snowcone machine into some little kid's snowcone. The guy running the machine fished it out but I guess that will be our next purchase. I wonder how hard we'll have to fight over that one. At least those are only about $700. It's only money - we'll make more, right?


Loving Annie said...

Beyond aggravating, Dr. Shedevil !

Popcorn machines, refrigerators, fryers... Woman, you are keeping the place going with your efforts and brains - I say bury the nincompoops in a buffalo chip storage bin !

And those horrific bruises ! OUCH... Is it too late to apply arnica cream ?

I want to apologize again for the mind-blowing stupidity of my comment yesterday (which I erased later after Dr. called it to my attention) .

I truly had no idea that what I said wasn't synonymous with redneck, and it was inappropriate, and if I offended anyone who read it, I hugely apologize yet again, and won't make assumptions on slang I don't know well in the future. Major mea culpa.

Loving Annie

Dr. Shedevil said...

Annie honey, you ain't from around here darlin'. It's okay. No harm, no foul. I can't imagine you deliberately saying something derogatory about anyone.

Thanks for the luuuv about my neverending frustration with The Stupids. All is well though. We're going to buy the new fridge and the new fryer tomorrow.

Jessucka said...

I hate stupid people. Good luck getting the thundercunts to see the light. lol

Natalia said...

Ouchie poo. But I am really pondering and I think I might take the bruises over having to deal with morons anymore. I am so very tired of them.


Loving Annie said...

Good Wednesday evening to you, Dr. SheDevil ! How are you doing ?

Every time Jessucka comes out with a 'thundercunt' or 'twatwaffle' I laugh for a good 5 minutes :) ! :)

Loving Annie

Dr. Shedevil said...

It's all good, y'all - even with the continued aggravation. There's more but I'm going to post the letter I wrote to them all tomorrow. It's long so be sure you pee first, haha.

In the interim, make sure you check out my post about my postdoc!

Dr X said...

Thanks for the delightful photos of your injuries. Here is my minor ankle fracture (keep in mind I'm quite fit and trim -- you're looking at pure swelling, baby.)

Left foot top view

Left foot, inside view

Dr. Shedevil said...

Owie, Dr. X! Whatthehell didja do to yourself!?

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