Sunday, July 01, 2007

Our Week With the Crossmen

Dave and I spent just under a week serving on the food crew for the Crossmen. Our greatest accomplishment was demonstrating our prowess as world-class dishwashers. Let me tell you, feeding 135 corps members, plus 30-40 staff and 10-12 volunteers four times a day is not restful. In addition to washing, rinsing and drying hundreds of pots and pans, we chopped scores of vegetables, prepared thousands of french fries and chicken nuggets, re-filled dozens of ketchup, mustard and salad dressing jars, replenished paper plate and plastic utensil supplies, and boiled LOTS of pasta. We did lots of other stuff too, but you've gotten the idea by now. Oh yeah, we also took delivery of a load of groceries for the Crossmen and for the Cadets (our sister corps). Dave spent much of that time arranging the perishables in the refrigerator/freezer, while I helped lug non-perishables to their proper trucks, one for us and the other for them. To give you some idea of the scope of that operation, it took the delivery guy two hours to unload his truck. We, of course, had to sort and store it.

This is the truck in which Dave and I lived when we weren't sleeping in the RV (something we didn't do very much). It's a full-size transport truck that's been outfitted as a canteen.

The meal schedule varies wildly from day to day, depending on what time our show begins in the evening, how long it will take to get from our housing site to the show site and whether we have to travel after the show. There is very little down time between serving one meal and preparing the next. Actually, someone is usually starting the next meal as others are clearing the serving tables. The truck is equipped with a generator, so we can run lights and ovens and feed the corps on-site after a performance. We ate at about 9:00 PM last night, in the parking lot of Giants Stadium (Eli Manning didn't come to the show - he has no idea what he missed). Unfortunately, we have no access to running water for road meals, so all of the pots and pans from a post-show road meal have to be washed early the next morning, before breakfast.

Now, some Crossmen terminology:
Reefer - no, it is not something one smokes illegally. It is the refrigerator/freezer unit.
IBS - no, it is not Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It is Ice Box Special - a fancy term for leftovers.
EPL - Eat/Pack/Load - this is what happens during the snack before a show, or the meal before moving to another venue. A 45-minute period is usually designated for the completion of all these activities.
Bones - the mascot who occasionally appears at shows dressed in a uniform and cape.

The corps does the bulk of its traveling at night, after shows. Last week, we moved with the corps three times and arrived at our housing sites anywhere from 1:30 - 3:00 AM. We were always ahead of the corps, which travels in a caravan of 9 vehicles: four buses, one food truck, one equipment truck, one RV, one concession truck and one van. They typically arrived anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour after we did.

The next two photos show Joshua during pre-show warm-ups. The horn line warms-ups together for awhile, then breaks into sections.

Here's Joshua "At the Gate," waiting for the signal to stand up, put on his hat and take the field.

Dave and I agree that the past week was incredibly busy, but fulfilling. If Joshua travels with the Crossmen again, we'll probably sign up for another stint on the food truck.


Dave said...

Notice, Josh is wearing a red Maltese Cross. Each rookie is given one after their first performance. Most, like Josh, wear it with pride. The cross is also black on one side. Through spring training the vets wore the black side out and switched to red after the first show in Toledo. I suspect that Josh will continue to wear it long after he returns home.

Stephen said...

This is an amazing operation!! Very impressive on it's scale and sophistication. I think it's great that you have demonstrated your commitment and support of Joshua by taking your turn in this way. The calibre of the music, the discipline and the character building of the Crossmen is priceless!
Elizaabeth and Emily belong to a world class choir here in Calgary called Cantare. To make an organization like this sucessful means parents have to play a key supportive role. This past Friday Gayle and the girls flew off to an international music festival in Vancouver. Gayle, like you volunteered. She is a chaperone and is on deck 24/7 - meal prep, ensuring the kids get to sleep by a certain time so that they will be at the top of their game.
It's a very costly venture, but the price has to be paid to have an opportunity that it affords.