It’s always cold and rain in Indianapolis / FFA Convention 2021

After about what felt like the gajillionth time of telling a high school kid they couldn’t take outside food or beverage into Lucas Oil Stadium, I hit my limit with a big-eyed freckle-faced girl of maybe 14 with a small purse pack full of unopened saltines and a brand new bottle of orange Powerade. She was the kind of kid that reminds one of a puppy: all eyes and awkward limbs that she will grow into someday and break a string Generation Z-Alpha-Z hearts.

They’re unopened she said, with just a little bit of a little girl whine. They’re just snacks. Her teeth rattled slightly from the cold and rain she’d been standing in waiting for the gates to open.

It hadn’t been 10 minutes since the blue shirt (crew supervisor) had harped on me again about letting bottled water slip through. We’d come back to open the gates for the afternoon session of the 2021 FFA (Future Farmers of America) Convention and it was pouring rain. Kids and their attending teachers / parents were huddled up against the gate, past the metal dectors under the small bit of cover, even though it wasn’t helping. 18,000 kids from all over the country, some far flung as Oklahoma or even California, some from places where it never gets really cold like Alabama. My job was to get them through as quickly as possible, which included bag checks and ID checks.

PLEASE HAVE YOUR BAGS OPEN, NO OUTSIDE FOOD OR DRINK, KEEP YOUR PHONES IN YOUR POCKET, IF YOU DON’T HAVE A BAG WALK ON THROUGH! Of course nearly all of them bags because they’d bought stuff since the morning, or walked by and gotten free stuff from booths in convention center. They all went through the ordeal that morning and more than a few felt — understandably — that it was silly overkill to have to go through it again and in a classic Ohio River Valley Autumn Downpour.

Doing the jobby job I have means enforcing all ridiculous rules. And with a few exceptions (mask mandates being one of them) nearly all rules are absurd and ridiculous. Take the no outside food/beverage rule, for example. During the break between sessions, three food trucks set up about 50 yards from the gate. Naturally they were allowed, permitted, and paid up with right corporate and public officials to be there. The only food availble in the stadium foodcourt was pizza … one vendor on each of the north and south sides of the bowl. And it was marked up, as were the fountain drinks and drink machines.

But they could’t bring that in, either, because, Lucas Oil Stadium policy is established to favor their vendors, who pay a hefty fee to be there… a fee passed on to customers in the form of cost inflation.

So I look at this wet puppy of a girl and her bag of saltines. There’s nothing in her eyes to suggest she’s just trying to pull a fast one. The fresh-faced genuine ones are the hardest to handle because there’s no way to explain to them that the world will try and break them down no matter how well they follow the rules. No matter how many prayers, hearts, and bodies get broken. That’s what the whole machination is built for. As Future Farmers, some understand this instinctually. The ones who deal with livestock intuit it young. The rest: well it takes longer.

Tell me they’re medically necessary I said. She said again they were just snacks. I nodded. Yeah. But TELL ME they’re medically necessary.

Exceptions are always made. I let three kids with pacemakers and five with diabetic pumps walk around the metal detector. One kid showed me her hand and announced it was full of metal from an operation. She was shaking and scared and ashamed, though there were no visible scars on her hand. I knew the cold and wet meant she was in pain. I don’t have metal in my body yet and the wet and cold makes me hurt. I let her pass.

Tell me the snacks are medically necessary. I repeat myself. She says it back to me and I nod her through. On the other side of the metal detector she turns and asks

Is it ok even though I lied?

Lord, there is no helping the sinless.

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Writer. Raconteur. Too many interests to list, so just keep reading.

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Ey Mick

Ey Mick

Writer. Raconteur. Too many interests to list, so just keep reading.

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