I have been reading City Paper since its beginning. I absolutely love it and all of its articles and features. I actually found and rented a house for 18-plus years that was listed in their classified section. After reading your article about experiencing the Preakness from a patron's aspect ("Pari-mutuel Democracy," Mr. Wrong, May 22), I just had to write to you about my experience with the "Second Jewel in the Triple Crown." A friend and I decided to work the event doing whatever was paying to make some extra cash; we have this annoying habit of liking to eat and being able to pay those dreadful everyday bills. Well, we were told to report to the race track on Friday (5/17/13) at 7 a.m. We had not been given any info about parking beforehand, so we took a chance and tried to park on one the adjacent lots-NO. Security advised us that we had to park on Northern Parkway. . . where. . . ? No advice. So we took a chance and parked in front of a residence at the corner of Highgate Drive and Northern Parkway and had just enough time to make it to the check-in area alongside the grandstand. Turned out, we were about 10 minutes late. We were told by security to wait there, "L" would be back down to get us. We waited for one hour. When "L" did return, she was nasty and abrupt. Did not want to answer any questions. We were sent home. OK, no work, no money that day. We were told that we could "try it again on tomorrow." So, Saturday (5/18/13) we had to check in at 6 a.m. This time we had my fiancée to drop us off at the gate to alleviate the parking worry. Whew. . . made it with 10 minutes to spare. We were escorted inside to a waiting area where we were told that we were being "processed in," meaning we will be assigned a time card and officially clocked in and issued a T-shirt or smock. We were asked to be patient as they were running a little behind schedule. . . . Does that translate to "late"? As we were waiting in line, a few of the people began to lament that they hoped that "P" (the company we were working for) did not repeat what they did last year, which was to tell you to report at a certain time but not pay you from that report time. My friend and I were assigned to work in the grandstand, third level, doing sweeping and mopping of spills. Due to Homeland Security rules, we could not leave that floor. If we needed to use the restroom, which was located on the second level, we had to let our "supervisor" know. Since the grandstand did not officially open until 10 or 11 a.m., we were told to "fantasy sweep," not stand still or be seen in one spot too long. OK, so we did "phantom sweeping" for a couple of hours as the place began to fill up. We watched people have a good time while others swore and complained about not winning. One woman (somehow) tripped/fell and injured her chin. Another either was too intoxicated or just lazy and defecated on herself while seated near the press area. I especially loved the people who complained about the amount of trash and debris in the seating area but would not move their lazy dead asses so that we could clean up the peanut shells, cups, betting slips, programs, puke, soda bottles, etc. We were provided box lunches on that day by the company, I still am not sure what the meat was, possibly turkey-ham?? It was grayish-white. My stomach said no way to the unidentifiable meat and I bought a Nathan's hot dog and a bag of chips for $5, it wasn't bad at all. Sunday (05/19/13) is clean-up day. . . what a huge mess. We had to report in at 6 a.m. Not clocked in until 7 or 7:30. We were issued numerous pairs of disposable gloves and 30-gallon trash bags. Told to line up and walk the infield, picking up everything that was littering the ground. Picture a line of people with "gunny sacks" bent over picking. . . . I suggested we break out into a round of old Negro spirituals. That part wasn't so bad until we got to the various vendors booths, where leftover food that had been rained on overnight was left. We were expected to pick that runny vomit-looking stuff up with our hands. I asked if we could have a shovel. I was told that they did not have any shovels. . . . Now let me understand. . . we are working inside a racetrack, where horses are kept, and you have no shovels? What do they use to "muck-out" stalls? Possibly a Hoover vacuum? There is an excessive amount of waste that goes on at this event. A lot of food, such as the two 10-pound bags of steamed oysters that were thrown away, broccoli, carrots, chicken, sealed bags of ketchup and mustard. I can only imagine how much was spent on all of the huge flower arrangements that were also thrown away. At one booth there were beers and bottles of wine that were also tossed into the garbage. There was no way to keep it, the broken-English-speaking overseerers made sure that nothing got salvaged. OK, work is over by 11 a.m. but you have to come back around 12:30 or 1 p.m. to get paid. So my girlfriend and I staggered off (after so much bending over, it was hard to stand up straight) in search of much-needed sustenance. We returned to the track around 12:45 p.m. , were told to form two lines based on the first initial of your last name. There were also a couple of city police officers standing on either side of the payout building. Well, remember me mentioning earlier about the overheard conversation about the pay? Well, it was true. . . even though you reported at a certain time, you were not paid from that reporting time, so your money was "short." Needless to say, there were a lot of unhappy people. Suffice to say: I will not be doing that ever again. I likened the experience to a day of feeling like a slave. There were only one or two people of other races doing the "dirty work." Most of the people that I observed doing the "grunt" work were black. The people from "P" were, for the most part, nice but have very little people skills. It seemed to me that they were more used to interacting with people who might have been part of a rehab/reintroduction to the world type of program, not people with a work ethic. Word to the wise: If you are ever wanting to experience the Preakness from the "other side". . . think long and hard about it. You will appreciate whatever occupation that it is that you presently do. And be grateful that you do not have to depend on that event to sustain yourself. Now, I feel better having gotten that off of my chest. Whew.
Swim with the Sharks
The only type of man who needs to compete in a shark-fishing tournament (
Calendar, May 15) must be one who is lacking in size elsewhere. Women who participate in this barbaric non-sport have obviously cut off their ties to Mother Nature, for why would any woman who is in touch with her femininity yank an innocent creature out of its natural habitat? Those of us who have moved forward with the 21st century know that sharks are nonaggressive, intelligent creatures who exist for more than just an easy way for idiotic people to feel good about themselves.