Switching Seats? Ushers Say No Way
"Are you OK, sweetie?"
It's not what I usually expect to hear at a ballgame, but it was welcome on Sunday.
I had joined the group from the National War College as they invaded Nationals Park (I'm sure there was some strategic benefit from securing the beachhead on South Capitol Street). This put me in some unfamiliar seats out in Section 238. You know Section 238; it's one of the two sections directly above the Nats' bullpen, sitting empty *every night.* Anyway, it wasn't empty Sunday afternoon -- it was filled with some of the nation's warriors, and their professors of strategy.
But many of the professors, like me, weren't bright enough to bring sunscreen. Lulled by the gorgeous spring weather, with a cool breeze everywhere, the professors and I showed up stupidly unprepared for the sun. And unlike RFK, Nationals Park is gloriously open and airy. "Glorious," that is, until you want to spend a second out of the sun. And Section 238 offers nothing BUT sun. So like many others, by inning 6 I scurried up the aisle, looking to slide into an adjoining section, and into one of the many empty seats covered by the stadium overhang.
Not a chance. There were yellow-shirted ushers everywhere, and they were unforgiving. No amount of sun and "gosh-wasn't-I-dumb!" charm could get them to relent and let me sit even five (cheaper) rows away from my seat, out of the sun. I can't really blame them; the lax enforcement at RFK, where people sat wherever they thought they could, won't fly in a stadium with $350 seats. And a "no tolerance" policy makes enforcement easier, so I can't blame the Nats.
But DAMN I wanted out of that sun.
So I sheepishly walked around the concourse, until I found a spot with some shade. I slumped against the wall, listening to Charley Slowes describe the action over one of the stadium's TV/radio combos. I closed my eyes, imagining the action that was 40 feet from my view -- IF I could only roust myself from that spot. And that's when I heard her voice:
"Are you OK, sweetie?"
One of those "mean" ushers, in her yellow shirt of authority, had strolled over to make sure that I was all right. "I just wanted to check when I saw your eyes were closed," she added.
I let her know that I was fine, just stupid for not being prepared for a sunny day. And I was more than fine, because that one act of kindness restored my energy, put a bounce in my step, and reminded me that the ushers were not just there bossing people around, but were there looking to make the event go smoothly. As I boarded the Nats Express, I felt like I was living in some modern Norman Rockwell world. And it wasn't too bad. . . .
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