November 9, 2022

Tailgating heroics: BACKING UP, *ITCHES

I'm not gonna lie, I slept like crap in the hotel in South Bend. Not sure if the room was too warm, or my gut wasn't 'just right', or what. The kids crept in from a bar at like 1:00 am and I didn't go back to sleep until around 5:00 am. My alarm was set for 6:15 am, which should've been plenty of sleep had I actually been able to sleep. 

Me sitting in my car. Waiting.
Grateful:  I ended up feeling fine all day. I was working off of VERY little sleep, but unlike the days when I never go back to sleep - squeaking out another hour or hour and a half just before 'go' time was apparently all I needed. 

GO TIME:  Coach and I loaded the three cardboard boxes with the hot crockpots full of chili onto the luggage cart we'd kept in our room overnight. After we loaded the chili in the car, I drove off and Coach went back inside and worked out/ate breakfast, not wanting to disturb the sleeping 20-somethings.

The chili was amazing and it stayed hot
 all day long. Granted I was a crockpot nazi
and made people line up and be ready to
 be served at the same time vs leaving
the crockpot lid open for too long.  
I got in line for the parking lot at 6:43 am under the cover of darkness. I'm humming:  SO YOU THINK I'M CRAZ-ZZEE, because I assume you all think I'm crazy. 

The lot wasn't going to open until 8 am, so I popped open my laptop. Occasionally I noticed people walking around carrying those chairs in a bag. Hmm. 

A few minutes to 8:00 the attendant scanned tickets. It was time to find a good  spot. I was like the 10th car in line, so I wasn't worried. I followed the car in front of me into the lot. He backed into a spot with a sidewalk and grass and I thought - great idea. I backed into a spot near him and got out of my car.

Me:  Why am I so far away from the stadium? I should be closer.

You know how parking lots have cement dividers between sections? Well, I noticed that cars were pulling into a closer section. What now?

Blind leading the blind Me following a guy:  The guy ahead of me must've preferred this section. I'd followed him thinking this was as close as we could get. I hesitated for a moment, afraid to give up my spot by sidewalk/grass. 

Me: you didn't wait in line this early to not get a GREAT spot. 

After checking to be sure there were still spots, I hopped in my car and drove around the cement divider to the other/closer section.

My adrenaline was pumping. I wanted to park in the same ideal 'back-in' place that butted up to a sidewalk and a strip of grass which gave the tailgate much more space than an average all-cement spot. There were about 5 spots left in the strip, but two ladies were sitting on folding chairs SAVING THE SPOTS. 

Gumby proudly overseeing
 our tailgate set up.
Three tables for food.
OH NO YOU DON'T:  In all of my tailgate planning, you know what I did in addition to food prep and Gumby amuptee repair? I read the RULES, that's what. Saving spots is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN. 

I positioned my car one spot over from a car that was parked, because I really didn't want to back into a spot while shaking with adrenaline directly next to another car. 

I was in the minivan (let's all stop and imagine the Great White in this scenario, who would dare to mess with GW?). I have a back up camera in the minivan, so I could see Fool #1 in her chair as I backed up TOWARDS HER.

She hopped up and waved her hands at me. Her partner in crime, Fool #2 a few spots over sitting on her folding chair began to wave and shout at me. 


I felt like the Little Red Hen. Were you in line in your vehicle at 6:43 am? No, I think not. Then you will not eat my bread keep these spots. 


They gasped and hollered back at me:  WE'RE NOT MOVING FROM THESE SPOTS. 

*In case you aren't grasping the situation - they probably had friends in cars at the back of the line. They walked up with their folding chairs in order to grab these awesome spots. Is this fair? Nope. Is this how it works? Nope, certainly not. 

Fool #1 behind me started to move her chair as I proceeded to back up. Fool #2 hollered at her:  NO! DON'T MOVE FROM THAT SPOT! SHE CAN'T DO THAT!

Can't I? 

I saw a couple of people in neon vests and gathered that they were security. I waved to them and called out THEY'RE BREAKING THE RULES, but I think they were students and they didn't want to get involved. I continued to back up. Fool #1's knees were in full view on my back up camera.

On our walk back to
campus, we stopped
at the Grotto. I lit a
candle for sweet
 Violet. It was Oct. 15th.
It would've
 been Violet's 4th birthday.
She passed away
 in Feb after a
 4 month battle
with brain cancer.
I babysat for her dad when
 I was a young teenage girl.
Finally, I decided to take the spot directly next to the car that was already there. This was a spot that the Fools were saving, but clearly they cared more that I not take a spot in the middle of their 5 spots because then they couldn't have all their besties in one row. Giving up a spot on the perimeter was less of a blow. Imagine the nerve of people to attempt to save 5 spots. F.I.V.E. Come on now? 

I pulled forward and backed up directly next to the other car and was therefore on the outskirts of the Fools'. I sat in the car for a few minutes after I'd parked and gathered myself. 

HEY NIEGHBOR:  These people were going to be our tailgating neighbors for the entire day. Soon enough Gumby himself would be propped up onto the top of my car. These people would be able to identify me. 

Did that deter me? No. Not in the least. 

I heard someone ask the people how their son liked the school, so I'm guessing they have a freshman too. I was hoping they had a senior and this was their swan song. 

While they'll know me by my Gumby, I couldn't pick them up out of a lineup. Now, if I'd maimed one of them while backing up - then I'd know them by their limping. 


I did note their NEW YORK plates.

I wanted to say:  NEW YORK CALLED, THEY WANT THEIR ASS HOLES BACK. If you recall Tank's reaction to people stealing our food at the last tailgate, imagine how he wanted to have words with Fools #1 and #2. I told him I couldn't positively ID them, and then I said:  "Have another beer, Tank."

I got out of the car and took photos of my whereabouts. I texted all of the people who planned to join us, so that they could find us later before cell service with attached photos got dicey.  

It was a
 chilly and VERY windy day.
The wind died

 down in the late afternoon, thankfully.
It was a good day to eat chili. We had a
 ton of visitors. Remember, Tank
 and his 4 buddies were at this
 game. Two nephews from
 Coach's side came in town. I think
 they think I'm the crazy aunt and thus
 enjoyed my backing up bitches
 story thoroughly.
My sister, Marie, had texted me mid week and asked if she and her family could come to our tailgate. Is this the same sister who failed to say a peep about tailgating invites at the start of the season? She was taking a break from hosting a tailgate. In the words of Jimmy Stewart in 'It's A Wonderful Life':  this is a very interesting situation. 

I'm kidding, of course I told them they were welcome to join us. When Marie got the text showing our position she texted back:  YOU'RE GONNA HAVE TO TELL ME HOW YOU GOT SUCH AN AMAZING SPOT. Sure Sis, but you gotta be a little aggressive.

We won't talk about how the game
 ended. Fortunately, I care
 little about the actual football game.
I jogged the almost 3 miles back to the hotel so I could shower and walk back to campus later - this was a night game after all. When my people were all awake, I re-enacted the BACKING UP, BITCHES scene to my adoring family members who cheered wildly in support of my heroic efforts. Even Coach, who isn't usually in favor of causing a scene, said:  I FULLY SUPPORT WHAT YOU DID.

I get that these people were trying to get away with something, but once you've been called out - don't you apologize and back down? (before you get backed over) Seriously. 

Anyone tried to break the rules on your watch? All in favor of me fitting Gumby with a prosthetic hand so that he can give bad behaving neighbors the bird in the future, say HEY.


Nicole said...

People saving spots reminds me of in the summer when the mountain parks are very busy - my husband and I were once in the parking lot and there were some people who had jumped out of their car (in the line, someone was driving obviously) and walked over to a spot to "save it." Some people are just rude!

Pat Birnie said...

That is so rude! I’m not sure if I would have been as assertive as you Ernie but in my head I’d like to be. Well done!

Colleen said...

I'm so surprised at their gall, just wow. After reading about the planning and execution of tailgating, I'm thinking it's maybe a once in a lifetime event for me...I don't know how you keep doing it!

Jeannie Bruce said...

I would love to see Gumby with a prosthetic arm! lol

Nance said...

It's like having a part-time job that doesn't pay but makes unreasonable demands.

And so you...leave your van there, fully loaded with all the food, including unplugged crockpots full of chili, waiting for a night game?

I just don't get it.

But I totally would have told those squatters a Few Things About Themselves.

Ernie said...

Nicole - I believe it. What is it that makes people think that it is OK for them to do something that the rest of us would never dare to do? It's like when there's construction and the expressway is down a lane and while cars are merging, there's always people who drive up to the front of the merging line. Why? They're more important than the rest of us waiting to merge in order? Ugh.

Ernie said...

Pat - It boiled my blood. I'm Irish. It is not recommended to bring my blood to boiling point. Part of me wishes I'd just stayed the course and taken the spot that I was initially backing into. What on earth is wrong with people? Perhaps I should've unleased Tank on them. ;)

Ernie said...

Colleen - It was pretty unbelievable. I'd like to post a photo, as some people do, of our tailgate on the 'parent of class of '26' FB page - that way other parents whose kids were at our tailgate can see pictures of their kids tailgating. If I do that, then my rude neighbors will see my name. Not that I have anything to hide, but it was an unpleasant situation.

I think it will only get easier as I streamline my process and start to get it down to a science. I'm looking forward to next year. I will have one less college to tailgate at since Ed will have graduated.

Jenny in WV said...

I have a very random tailgate question: What is the bathroom situation like? Are there random port-o-johns around or are there regular indoor facilities with running water available?

In Pittsburgh there is a thing called a parking chair. I think it is mostly people who have street parking, in the winter when they have to shovel out their parking space, then often reserved said parking space with an old chair. But they put in the effort to shovel, just like you put in the effort to get up at the crack of dawn to get a good tailgate spot, whoever was going to pull into those reserved-against-the-rules spots did not put in the effort and did not deserve good parking.

Ernie said...

Jeannie - Tempting. So very tempting.

Ernie said...

Nance - It is like a part time job. The unplugged crockpots only needed a ba-zillion towels jammed into the boxes around said crockpots. Luckily, Lad did swim team in high school and I have a box of about a ba-zillion old white towels that we enlist if something floods or spills, etc. Those crockpots stayed piping hot. The game was at night, but the festivities started around noon. We served about one and a half of the crockpots. Happy to not have run out, or run cold.

Part of me wishes I'd said a few things to them after the fact, because it really was bad behavior. The ND parent FB page is all about how great the ND fans are, constanly praising the parents as being such a great community. Hmm.

Ernie said...

Jenny - There are rows and rows of port-a-potties. Our tailgate was fairly near a row of port a potties at Indiana University where Ed is a student. The beneift of paying more to park in the two lots that are so close to the stadium at Notre Dame is that the basketball arena is open to the public. Indoor, clean, normal bathrooms with running water. In the picture of the car with the stadium in the background - you can see the Joyce Athletic Center next to the stadium. We were about 50 yards or less from the front door of the athletic center. Makes the extra money worth it. Easy to find our spot for our friends and easy to use the facitilies.

In the city in Chicago there is a whole thing about furniture reserving parking spots in the dead of winter. The photos of what people use to reserve their spots is entertaining.

Busy Bee Suz said...

First: Awww....sweet Violet. She should not have any heavenly birthdays. :(

I was wondering how you kept the chili hot all day? Do you have an outlet in the van? Or did the crocks just hold the heat?

I'm SO proud of you for trying to run people over. I mean, they had it coming! HA.
We've experienced this many years ago at the beach. Parking lots get full, and spots are limited. You have to circle around for a while and occasionally, you'll see a person hop out and run to save a spot an aisle over. NO WAY, JOSE! People lose their minds!

I think the reason you made it all day with limited sleep is ADRENALINE.

Ernie said...

Suz - The loss of Violet is so senseless and heartbreaking.

When we were at the IU tailgate, Ed's girlfriend's mom was commenting on how fancy we were with our baskets to hold pumpkin bread, etc. I laughed, "OK, just don't look at the big carboard box that has sharpie on the side CROCKPOT FITS." I keep the crockpots hot by heating them on warm overnight and then putting them in cardboard boxes that are lined with old towels. A few towels shoved on top. I'm a talented lady over here and I build my own cheap insulation systems.

I think the story would've been better if I'd at least dented her chair. ;) Part of me hates that I caved and moved over a spot, but they wanted that spot too. Seriously though - did no one grow up with manners? Knowing right from wrong?

I was pretty dang excited, so I suppose there was some adrenaline happening. I slept SOLID the next night.

Cindy said...

I am SUCH a rule follower and I don't understand when others try to break them. Maybe they hoped no one had read the rules? Good for you for sticking with it and getting a great spot!

Ernie said...

Cindy - I tend to follow the rules too, although I've been known to drive faster than the posted speed limit from time to time. ;0 I'm glad that I didn't let them intimidate me and settle for a less great spot.

Bibliomama said...

I never sleep worth a damn in a hotel room. I was breathless waiting to see how the story was going to end - I would never have the guts to actually menace those yahoos with a vehicle, but I would want to. I love how you gave zero fucks that you would still have to be neighbours for the entire tailgate.

Ernie said...

Ali - Oh I feel awful that you can't ever sleep good in a hotel. That's misery. I can do fine, depending. I'm sure my mind was ON as I was not certain my master plan to get into the lot right at opening would work.

I really didn't give zero fucks. I knew my tailgate people good beat up their tailgate people, maybe not literally (aside for Lad who is always too willing), but my crew would've given those people a verbal lashing if needed. Part of me wishes I'd allowed that to happen. I was busy serving hot chili and therefore didn't consume enough alcohol to go there, or let my people go there.

Ally Bean said...

I never thought about where you park when you tailgate. Now that you mention it, I suppose some people would break the rules just to get a better spot. For something that in the whole scheme of life is just a few hours of fun. Glad you did what you did, but again I'm reminded that people be weird.

Ernie said...

Ally - When I was a kid, it was first come first serve. Entry into the premier lots not requires a pricey ticket. Their are other lots, but in order to make it easy for Mini to steer her friends to us - we need to be front and center.

People be weird, indeed.

Suzanne said...

FIVE SPOTS?! FIVE?!?!?! Wow. Some people!

I also love that you were so closely monitoring the chili lid. Gotta keep it hot!!!

Ernie said...

Suzanne - The nerve, right? Nevermind that there were a ton of people in line ahead of them who didn't bother to try to claim these spots.

Yes, I felt like I was the kitchen Nazi in a Seinfeld episode. WANT CHILI? GET IN LINE. WITH A BOWL. GET READY!

Anne said...

Seriously? What the WHAT? I admire your tenaciousness. I would have bailed when they started yelling at me. Then again, I haven't tailgated, so perhaps my inner Irish would come out... ;)

Ernie said...

Anne - Ha. I think your inner Irish would've done you a solid and stepped in. Hey, I was up earlier - in my car, poised and ready to get a spot. There was no way I was gonna step aside.