Turkey, ‘Fight Club’, and the Mullins Center

By Jeff Bagdigian

Anyone who has gone to at least one UMass hockey or basketball home game knows that it is our great fortune to have a venue like the Mullins Center. Who doesn’t like watching hockey and basketball live? And if you’re an undergrad, watching for free is awesome. An evening of outstanding entertainment is but a short walk away. And how about the food they serve at the arena? I mean, what’s not to like (except the sliders)?

Collegian File Photo

Stay with me as I segue: I watched the cult classic film “Fight Club” again this weekend and some of the ideologies of the movie left a residue on my thought patterns. As I sat on my couch digesting the gargantuan amounts of turkey I ingested on Thanksgiving Day, I dozed while watching Fight Club until one part of the movie resonated within my mind. The words that I heard through the fog roughly pertained to the unseen laborer and how society leans heavily on what they do. Remember that.

Okay, now back to the Mullins Center. Not only do I adore the Mullins Center for its availability as a venue, but it is incidentally my place of work as well. I am what is called an Event Attendant, one of the folks who is garbed in either a green or blue polo. My job is to clean up after the patrons. Now, the purpose of this column is not to congratulate myself on my formidable cleaning powers; it is instead an attempt at raising awareness for the often-unseen laborers. Before I began my job as an Event Attendant, I was always dimly aware of the fact that somebody had to clean up after the patrons when the game or show or whatever had concluded. Perhaps it was a small army of gremlins or pixies? If only that were true. In reality, my wonderful coworkers and I are the people who clean up after you. I can assure you that there is no shortage of work to be done afterward. The mess, and consistency of said mess, varies greatly depending on the event. For instance, when Phish came through Amherst last year they left a veritable swath of filth in their wake. That one took a few days to clean up, and don’t get me started on DAYGLOW. Yikes.

After working at the Mullins Center I have nothing but respect for people who clean up larger venues. I can’t possibly imagine cleaning up Gillette Stadium and the surrounding parking lot without going weak in the knees. Now here’s where “Fight Club” become relevant: at every venue, be it dormitory, movie theater or stadium, there are seemingly invisible people with whom you do interact. These people work hard to make sure your experience is a good one. Event Attendants like myself work to ensure your experience is a clean one, and then there are the Event Operations folks at the Mullins Center who work hard setting up stages and maintaining the ice and basketball court, plus the innumerable light and sound people. There is a small army ever-present at venues that are always working to keep the building in shape and prepare for the next event.

These people are seldom noticed when things are working smoothly, but I can guarantee that if these folks didn’t show up for work you’d notice real fast. “What can I do to thank these unsung heroes?” you ask? Speaking from experience, I absolutely love it when people walk up to me at work and say thanks. My fellow Event Attendants agree. A verbal “thank you” means a lot to us. If you brought your trash to the trash bins and kept it separate from the recyclables that would mean even more. I personally would erect a small shrine to you in the practice fields, candles and all. Any help the patron can offer the staff is always appreciated. My supervisor once told me a woman complained to him about the “characteristic sticky floors of the Mullins Center.” He replied that it wasn’t so much a lack of work ethic or thoroughness that was the problem. Event Attendants don’t make the floor sticky, we make it so you could eat off the floors (I still wouldn’t). The patrons make the mess.

Now when you step into a movie theater, a stadium or your dorm, seek out the maintainer or staff member who cleans up and thank them for a job well done. It beats doing the work yourself and any appreciation we encounter means a lot. Oh, and the next time you go to the Mullins Center, please be careful with popcorn. That stuff gets everywhere.

Jeff Bagdigian is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]