Sunday, January 29, 2006

Part I: Getting In

When I’m feeling bold I sometimes force my girlfriend to call me “Captain Fearless.” On January 22nd I earned that ridiculous moniker when I snuck into the largest sporting event to ever be held in the City of Seattle. After years of toiling in a fecund sea of mediocrity, the Seattle Seahawks had their best season ever and had home field advantage for the NFC Championship Game. I wanted to see that game more than anything, but tickets were unavailable.

A few months earlier I got a job with the Seattle Supersonics. It was a simple catering gig that allowed me to watch every Sonics home basketball game, and it provided me with some really official looking ID. The catering company also handled gourmet service for the Seattle Seahawks. My manager Michelle asked me if I could work the big game.

“No,” I said without explaining. I’m a huge fan; I can’t be bothered with work.

“We’ll all be working there,” she said in a room full of managers who all knew me well. Shit! I thought to myself. This isn’t going to be easy. I’m going to need a disguise.

The morning of the game I arrived at Qwest Field dressed in black pants, a black zipper fleece jacket, bowtie, tux shirt, and in my hand I brandished my most powerful prop: an apron. No one messes with a guy with an apron. I took long purposeful strides towards the back entry, where security and parking were controlling the passage of limousine and huge media vans. The first checkpoint was a breeze. Quickly I flashed my ID and strolled past the first level of security.

The walk down that back alleyway was excruciatingly long. It was nothing but security, police, media, security, police, and more security stretching into eternity. My heart was racing and I had thoughts of turning back, but that would be even more conspicuous. I panicked and bolted for the first door I saw.

“Follow him,” I heard security say behind me.

The door was locked.

I could feel someone coming up behind me, so I turned and faced the cop.

“Where’s the employee entrance?” I asked in the friendliest of tones.

“Right there,” he said pointing. “Can’t miss it.”

“Thanks,” I said with a nod of my head and walked on.

The security guard at the entrance was a slacker who didn’t even look at me. I entered the hallway. There were long tables with security officials with official looking lists for signing in employees.

“It’s me again,” I said, brandishing my apron and huffing like I had to go back to work.

“Go on in,” they said, and I was in the stadium. There was another level of check-in the first room I encountered. I bypassed it without resistance. No one questions a man who walks swiftly and looks like he knows where he’s going. I had circumvented levels 2-4 with relative ease but now I was lost in the catacombs of Seahawks Stadium. Walking past another dozen cops and anxious to get out of the hallway, I ducked down the first entrance I came across.

Unfortunately, it led straight to the field.

“Where ya headed?” Security asked me.

“Oh, I’m actually looking for the elevator” I replied breezily.

“Just head back that way,” he said “the freight elevator is just down the hall to the right.”

“Thanks,” I said turning around. Blam! A row of cops were standing between me and the elevator. I walked straight through them like Shawn Alexander at the line of scrimmage, only I used my apron as a blocker. “Excuse me gentlemen.” I said, and I made my way to the elevator.
A woman with a cart full of catering and banquet supplies was waiting there for the elevator.

“Are you headed to the club level?” I asked.


“Cool, I’m following you then.”

I knew from my Qwest Field contacts on the inside that there was a restaurant called the Stagecoach on the club level. My friend Janna the Dancing Bartender was already in the building, working some V.I.P. event in the suites.

On the elevator I zipped up my fleece jacket so if I ran into some managers they wouldn’t immediately rope me into working. Still, I knew this would be the most dangerous passage with a high possibility of being recognized. I got off the elevator and walked into the kitchen. No one said anything, I had an apron.

I saw a group of waiters at the end of the kitchen. They were grouped in the standard gossip circle. I recognized a few, but they were too busy bitching about the guests to notice me. Then I saw the coffee, and where there’s coffee there’s a door. I saw the entry way with “In Only” on the door. I entered.

Two hundred people started screaming.

“AAAhhhhhhh!” What had I done, I thought. I saw the big screen TV and the Pittsburgh Steelers had just scored a touchdown. Just then I saw my manager Michelle headed toward me. Quickly I darted into the crowd before she could see me. I made my way to the bar. I was now in the Stagecoach restaurant, an expensive club level restaurant. People pay well over $300 to eat and watch the game from this vantage point on the south end of the stadium.

“Where’s the men’s room,” I asked a lady with a Shawn Alexander jersey. She pointed to the back of the restaurant. I maneuvered to the restroom without being seen.

I slammed into the corner handicapped stall and sat down. So far so good. I took off my bowtie and put on my disguise: A black Seahawks snow cap worn low and a 12th Man button provided by the delicious *David Swidler*, as well as a pair of blue sunglasses provided by the amazing *John Osebold*. I’ve now gone from employee to super-fan! I text my best buddy *Ryan Dobosh,* and let him and my L.A. fans know that I’m in.

Before leaving the bathroom, I enjoyed the delicious brownies I had hidden in my apron, and I took a swig of the vodka that was posing as Aquafina. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to screaming for professional sports, I need a whole lot of intoxicants to get rowdy about men in tight pants. I kissed my apron for good luck and stashed it out of sight.

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