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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Second Best Job I Ever Had

It is easy to guess what the best job I ever had was. That would be working at my family’s Western Auto Store. The customers were great, the job was easy, and the whole thing was like playing a game.

It would be easy to guess what the worst job I ever had was, too. I once worked for a family-owned collection agency. I will have to describe that in detail down the road. No one would believe it anyway, even though I have tapes and documentation of the experience.

But this is about the second best job I ever had. That would be the time I spent as a guard in the Carolina Gamecock locker room during the fall of 1983. The job was amazing even though I actually lost money doing the job. I would bring home about $20 for the day but I would spend more than $20 on food and drink and going out to Shoney’s after the game. I didn’t take the job for the money. I took it for the fun.

I took a job working for the Pinkerton Detective Agency. If I had known then what I know now about the Pinkertons, I never would have taken the job. But that is another story.

Because I was a stupid, er, student at the University I could not work the gate. They placed me working inside the Gamecock locker room and my friend Tommy Branton guarding the visitors’ locker room.

The locker room area for the Gamecocks was amazing. There was a little movie theater there, a banquet room, the locker room itself, a dressing room for Cocky, and what was then the largest college weight room in the world.

Since I am working my tail off trying to get back to being healthy and making darn good progress, I am pumping iron like a madman. While lifting weights the other day I was reminded of when one of the assistant weight training coaches from UCLA was being shown the weight room he said, “That’s huge.” Then, after a second or two, he caught himself and said, “Of course, we’re building one twice that size next year.”

While working for the Gamecocks I met Joe Morrison, the head coach, as well as all his staff. I got to meet the team; they all called me Barney since I was so skinny. I also got to meet James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, Rick James and several other celebrities.

I also got to be a temporary guard for Governor Dick Riley some weekends. The State Troopers would escort Governor Riley into the locker room area. There he would take an elevator up to his private box. While some of the Troopers parked the cars, I and other troopers would stand with the Governor. He was a very nice man and always shook my hand.

Later, when I took a swimming class with some of the football team they had this great game called “Throw Barney in the Pool”. Since I am a good swimmer I did not mind. One of the guys remarked, “You are a good guy and you don’t get mad at us”. I told him I knew it was all in fun and did not mind. The game continued, but there was more of a camaraderie after that. I had been having problems getting the right size swim suit from the equipment people. One day, one of the players asked me why my suit always hung off my a**. I told him they keep giving me large suits when I ask for medium. He went up to the counter and told the equipment guy I needed a medium and not to be ignoring me no more. From that point on I got what I needed.

The team was a great group of guys. Not one of them was a jerk to me. And, not one of them knows me by anything other than Barney. That’s okay, too.

Interestingly enough is that when you are a fan in the stands you don’t see the amazing police presence that is there. We had SLED, State Troopers, ABC, Sheriff, City, and Campus Police, as well as private security.

It is against the law to possess or consume alcohol in the stadium. No excuses. There were always those who tried to beat the system and bring some in anyway. Many got away with it but many did not. There was a magistrate right there in the stadium where a person would appear before the judge and it would be decided if they would be detained or not and given a court date.

Someday, in another post, I will have to tell you about the drunken Clemson fan who showed up at the Clemson/Carolina game without a ticket.

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