DINNER 192: Tuesday, July 11, 2006

This evening was spent at Great American Ball Park in downtown Cincinnati. I was there because some of my students asked if I wanted to participate in fundraising for student groups in my college, which of course I did. They make money by staffing concession booths at baseball games. Sounded reasonably fun to me, so I went down for training. From 6:00 until 11:00pm. That’s 5 hours of training — to pour beer and burn hotdogs.

Great American Ball Park

The training was, in a word, ridiculous. Sure, I’m a foodie and probably know more about most of the equipment than the average trainee, but it was aimed at an offensively lowest-common-denominator level. And it was 5 hours long. It could EASILY have been completed in 2 hours.

We spent time in alcohol training (not as fun as it sounds) learning about identifications, our requirements, and other guidelines. Then we went to various ‘spokes’ to learn about different booths at the park — fryer, grill, register, cleanup, trash (a class in trash!), and more.

But the classes that absolutely took the cake were the 75 minutes we spent learning about Delaware North Hospitality Management company from their drones, complete with PowerPoint presentations, over-produced videos of rockets shooting to the moon and people kayaking down rivers and stuff. They put us through their arbitrary (“always gesture to guests with an open hand, never pointing”), overly-bureaucratic, and policially-correct “GuestPath” training methodology (think Scientology indoctrination). They even introduced us, via PowerPoint slides, to their board of directors! I cannot adequately describe how silly this was; other trainees were complaining that “all we want to do is pour beer!”, “we’re not making this our career!”. The facilitator-drones were unapologetic and without a sense of humor. We also learned about Delaware North’s 10-part “Universal Service Standards” in two parts and with a 13-minute video.

Somewhere during these classes, I ate a bratt and a ‘gourmet’ pretzel (it was doughy), washed down with a cup of Pepsi.

Once the program was finally done (only 4.5 hours — more quickly than expected, but easily 2.5 hours longer than it needed to be) and we’d picked up our official badges (with dreadful photograph), I left the stadium to find that we’d been let out at exactly the same time as a country music concert next door. Traffic in the immediate downtown area added to the overall frustration of the evening, though once I got a small distance away from downtown, it opened up nicely and I made it home by 11:15.

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