The older I get, the more I realize that I need to ask more questions. A couple of weeks ago I found myself in a situation that I wasn’t 100 percent comfortable with. Here’s what happened…
I live in Indianapolis and we have this little race called the Indianapolis 500 (which is actually held in Speedway, Indiana). One of the pre-race day festivities is Carb Day (or Carburetion Day). Qualified cars have the opportunity to practice on the track. This used to involve adjusting the carburetors. Even though cars no longer have carburetors, the name stuck. Nowadays the day also involves the Firestone Freedom 100 Race and the pit stop challenge. And a concert, which has grown over the years.
This year’s band was Poison. I’m a child of the 80s. I like Poison. I’ve seen Bret Michaels and he’s great. However, I had no desire to pay $20 to go to Carb Day this year. Then a week before the event a friend asked me to go with her and some others. I don’t spend much time with her these days so I relented.
My usual Carb Day ritual is to watch practice, the race and the pit stop challenge. I then mosey over to the concert and stand in the back. This year I met my friend and as I followed her to the concert stage my stomach began to churn. A friend of hers got there at 7:45 a.m. They were at the very front of the stage. (Cue voice in my head, “Oh hellllllll no.”) You see, Carb Day concerts draw upwards of 30,000 people in a giant field. The concert begins in the afternoon so they have had plenty of time to get trashed. Which is really what they are there to do. (Is there a concert?)
I arrived around 1 p.m. I wanted to actually see a car, so after I followed Alyce to the front I walked to the track, watched the cars and ate my lunch. I ventured back to the stage area a little after 2 p.m. I had contemplated leaving, but didn’t want to waste $20 for an hour of watching cars. And I did want to hang with Alyce and the group.
I think because we were at the front of the crowd I felt a tiny bit better about the situation. If we were in the middle of the mess I would have walked to the back. There are too many things that can go wrong with that many people combined with alcohol and sun. My entertainment during the hour wait to see Poison included the following:
- The Bret Michaels look-alike girl with bleach blond hair and headband doing stripper moves against the fence while the photographers took constant pictures of her. I would bet money she ended up on Bret’s (or someone’s) bus.
- The guys with funnels who at one point stripped down to their super hero underwear.
- The girl who flashed her boobs so others around her could take pictures.
- A fight about 20 feet away.
- A bachelorette party with women in matching pink t-shirts. They were actually pretty well-behaved.
I got a little annoyed during the encore when people started pushing toward the barrier to touch Bret and C.C. I did not appreciate the fat, sweaty girl who wedged herself in front of me and danced with her camera above her head, almost hitting me in the face. At one point I broke contact and she almost fell backward.
When the show ended, I wondered if I would ever get out of there. Move it, people! I had to meet friends for dinner at 7 p.m. across town. I waved goodbye to Alyce and was on my way. I ended up parking about two miles away down 16th Street. During my walk I wished I had brought my bike. I don’t mind walking, but it was hot and I was in a hurry.
As I circle back to the moral of my story – ask questions! Do you plan to watch the cars? Where do you want to be at the concert? How long are you going to stay? Where are you parking? How far is that from the track? Think about what you would do at an event and make sure the other people are on the same page.
I had a fun time and enjoyed the music. But it was not the best situation. That many people in one giant space is not a good idea. Ok, maybe people won’t get that excited about Poison to potentially crush other spectators, but you never know. I felt like I was aware of my surroundings and was ready to jump over the barrier if things got hairy. I’d like to think I would be fast enough to be able to get out of harm’s way. The fact that I'm really tall also gave me a better perspective to see everything around me. If I was shorter, I don't think I would have stayed.
I like nothing better than having a good time, but I need to do a better job of being smarter and safer about it. It does get better than this.