I began working late two months after I got the job at Agganis. I didn’t see myself as unique, even if my boss offers more incentives for those who sign up for 10pm till 3am on the time sheet. My job description is very much the same as those who have worked before me – setting up the mechanics, converting the stage into a hockey rink, cleaning out stands and emptying recycling bins – and all of us are paid the same rate. Nevertheless, the term of working “late night” is often heard through the grapevine, in both a sense to recognize the extra effort those employees put in as well as a tiny resentment of regret knowing that their sleep schedule is going to be changed incoherently.
Most of these sessions usually involve post-event conversions or clean-ups, which by itself is a ten person project. But a greater difficulty comes when different events run on back-to-back days; a typical weekend might include a live concert on Friday, a hockey game on Saturday and another concert on Sunday. Sufficient to say, it’s a challenge to cover everything between those tiny slots of freedom. How do you recreate the same experience that people leaving in joy had for the people entering in excitement tomorrow?
That’s why a superb meticulousness for detail, even at the twilight hours of the morning, is important. There’s a certain art form to moving 64 folding chairs on metal carts around an area lined with spilled popcorn and beer. Keeping a good form and using your knees to lift helps alleviate the pressure on your back, although sometimes you can’t get a good grip on anything with the way things are around you. If all else fails, gravity is your best friend, as I’ve learned from being asked to break down five consecutive stage floors in under fifteen minutes.
If we are setting up for hockey, we’d have to manually reset the ice rink piece by piece and match every part to its respective position. This is probably the easier part of the night, with the crazy drilling noise as a trade-off. And working with the Plexiglass is actually quite nice if you’re gentle with it; the water helps it slide into the wedge easily and it really helps you get over the fact that the behemoth is twice your height.
Like most part-time jobs, working at Aggains has only brought forth an experience. Even the most veteran of all late night employees are frequent to check the clock on their phones and take more bathroom trips than usual. The fatigue doesn’t really hit you until around one or two in the morning, but by then your body’s struggling to combat the bright stadium lights and rough noises of materials moving around that has now become commonplace that sleep is buried deep in the back burner. Perhaps the only thing that force a lot of us to stay afloat is the prospect of money, and even that is cold, fleeting and unsatisfying.
Sometimes when I do stare hard enough in the stands I can see the remnants of a celebration or defeat. Paper scraps and trash, pamphlets and tickets. Verily I’d imagine for a second how there used to be crowds of people standing, sitting there just a few minutes before, cheering, looking down at me as if I was the attraction for the night. And then I’d close my eyes and turn around see myself and a few others sweeping what’s left of this hollow empty shell. I still don’t believe in ghosts. But now I hardly walk around places without envisioning what it was or who was there before.
I think this is a healthy state of mind.