Womaning the Little League Baseball Snack Shack

April 16, 2007 9:22 PM | 0 Comments

I've described the glories of the Little League Baseball Snack Shack, but there's a flip side to this. Periodically, we parents have to run the Snack Shack, and I was drafted this week. Austin was playing his first game: The Boa Constrictors versus The Sweat Socks. In order to make the 6:30pm commitment, I had to run home from work and change into a transition outfit. This largely entails jettisoning the pantyhose and skirt in exchange for a pair of jeans and comfortable shoes. Then, since it's typically windy near the beach in West Seattle, I add another jacket layer.
Snack Shack hot dogs....

When I reported for duty at the Snack Shack with my 12-year-old daughter Kit, I was breathless and instantly felt performance pressure. The quarters are very tight and the expectations are high. The shack is packed to the gills with consumable inventory that was likely purchased at Costco, menacing food prep machines that threaten electrocution and demanding customers, both large and small, with varying concepts of how our monetary system in the United States functions. Let's just say that denominations and coinage values are not their strong suit.

I quickly studied the laminated menu and corresponding prices, surveyed the geographic locations of the products, asked Davey the manager some questions and plunged into the assignment with my teammates Lori, Bryan (my husband) and Kit.
Bryan at the Snack Shack

Naturally, the most popular item was hot dogs. The hot dog machine was similar to those you see in 7/11s, where the dogs are rotating. When the first order came up, I clutched my tongs, watched the rotation and waited for a good entry point, likening it to how you have to search for the best entry timing with double-dutch. Unfortunately, it was more like one of those "Shoot the Duck" carnival games. Just as I was about to nab my weenie prey, Bryan cut in, saying "You're not qualified to do this job." He grabbed the tongs and immediately broke the machine. It instantly stopped rotating. I shot him a fierce, "told-you-so, yea-of-little-faith" look and transitioned to the cash register station.

So, after spending 2 hours at the Snack Shack, here is my wisdom, here is what is required to run a Snack Shack with the same perfection as The Crabby Patty on Sponge Bob:

Be organized. It's best if you can divide the work into stations: 1) Food Prep - Hot Dogs, Cup-of-Soup. Hot Pretzels, Nachos, Hot Chocolate w/ Whip and Coffee; 2) Food Forager - Drinks, Candy, Chips; and 3) Cashier.

It also helps if you have the following attributes: speed and agility; basic math, if you are managing the till (fortunately geometry is not necessary); a good short-term memory so you can remember why the small, 8-year-old boy has been waiting for 15 minutes; a passion for customer service; elementary mechanical skills and an ability to follow directions; a zeal for upholding basic sanitary standards; and a strong stomach for the clean-up (I spent 20 minutes trying to clean up the popcorn machine, battling grease and popcorn kernals that had fallen into hard-to-reach crevasses).

In addition to these attributes, you have to make a philosophical determination. Are you going to make charitable contributions to those kids who don't have enough money to pay for their selections? I decided that the success of our entire economy rested on this: No, I did not want to create an artificial commerce. When kids had insufficient funds I steered them toward other choices that were in their price range or suggested that they combine forces with friends or that they contribute to a high-yield CD or IRA.

So, on to the perks. Two words: FREE FOOD. As a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I used to work at Upstairs/Downstairs Deli. I don't remember much about the job, but I do remember the free fries we used to dip in Thousand Island dressing after closing. Today, I consumed a free dog, and it was grand. Even though I was preoccupied with running the Snack Shack, I got to escort Kit to the Port-a-Potty, witness Austin pitch AND watch the Boa Constrictors win.
Sports Widow fast ball...


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