As a condition of my parole I am not allowed to travel outside a five mile radius of my home without the express written consent of Major Leagues Baseball. In addition, it is not very often that I am invited to an event by one of the branches I work with at U.S. Bank. (I have been disinvited a few times, however!) So, imagine my surprise at being able to attend the annual Coos Bay BBQ at Bastendorff Park last Thursday. I even got to sneak out of work a few hours early!
This is always a very fun event that brings together current and former employees of not just the Coos Bay branch but also North Bend and Coquille Valley as well. It’s always fun to talk with former employees about how things were in the “olden” days. It’s even more fun to talk with spouses / significant others / family members, to get a clearer picture of the folks that work for us!
One person who is a semi-frequent attender is our Division Operations Manager, my boss, Shawn Crawford. (Insert applause here.) Shawn, his wife Lori, daughters Ashley and Alyssa and even their “dog” Abby, all made the trek from Bend to be at this event. Shawn grew up in Coos Bay and Lori in North Bend (let the trash talking begin) so this area is near and dear to their hearts. Not to mention that Shawn spent a fair amount of his “work college” years training at Coos Bay branch.
And then there’s the food. Sure, there’s the usual fare: hamburgers, hot dogs, pop and the ever popular giant milk container sized potato and macaroni salads. BUT what makes this event unique is The Crab!
Every year folks take their lives in their hands to venture into heavy seas, dropping crab pots into the ice crusted Pacific Ocean, just so attendees of the BBQ have a little higher quality picnic food. Okay, I may have exaggerated the risk a bit. It’s probably more like dropping a crab pot off a pier somewhere in town, sitting back with a beer and cigarette and waiting for the crab to take the bait. In any event, watch for all the fun and excitement in the new Discovery Series, Doofiest Catch.
The highlight of the activities is the annual Coos Bay / North Bend Smoker. The intense (and almost absurd) rivalry between these two communities comes to a head when staff members from each branch pair off in a double-elimination tournament to determine who is the best mixed-martial arts fighter in the greater bay area. The branch with the last employee standing earns bragging rights for the next year. It also has the additional benefit of calming down the bitter rivalry between these two branches. For a couple of weeks at least.
I love road trips like this. (Just ask Shawn about our wild weekend road trip to Vegas back in the late 90s!) I like driving with the windows down (or the sun roof open, at least), playing loud music and driving safely within the speed limit (as far as any of you or the OSP know, anyway).
Here’s one tip though: When driving home late at night it may be tempting to stop at Dutch Brothers to get a 20 ounce Annihilator with four (count ‘em) four shots of espresso. When driving in the dark, late at night, after working all day (if you can call what I do “working”), a little coffee only makes sense, right? Well, it worked for me, in that it kept me awake all the way home! And beyond. There’s nothing more depressing than turning on your radio - hoping the noise will help you go to sleep – only to hear, “This is NPR’s Morning Edition. I’m Steve Inskeep.”
But that’s not what I wanted to tell you about. I really wanted to give you a sense of what the event is really like. I think it’s best illustrated by some of the comments I heard along the way. These little snippets will kinda make you feel like you were there and secretly eavesdropping on things. (Which, coincidentally, is something my parole officer has asked me to stop doing . . .) Most of these probably won’t make much sense unless you know the people involved but, nonetheless, and without further ado (what the heck does “ado” mean anyway?) here are the:
Top Ten Things I Overheard at the Coos Bay BBQ
10. From a hard core sales manager: “Okay, if everyone is done eating let’s get going on those outbound calls!”
9. From a Branch Manager to his assistant manager: “How many times do I have to tell you – I do sales. You do everything else.”
8. Alyssa Crawford (12): “Peter, how many times do I have to tell you – I am not carrying Nick Jonas’ child!”
7. Shawn Crawford: “Dude, come over to our car and check out the sweet car charger we got for our dog!”
6. A U.S. Bank employee: “YES, I’m going to see Harry Potter tonight and NO, that doesn’t make me a loser!”
5. Another U.S. Bank employee: “Pink IS my signature color and HECK YEAH I made my husband wear it when our baby girl was born!”
4. Another ‘nother U.S. Bank employee: “If you knew about some of the stories these people tell about their after hours parties in the branch back in the 70s and 80s, you’d be surprised no one ever got arrested!”
3. A LOOOONG time U.S. Bank employee: “Whaddya mean, no one ever got arrested? Dude, I spent three weeks in the joint after the fabled “Coos Bay Burning Man Chamber of Commerce” party! The branch smelled like smoke for a year after that.”
2. Still another U.S. Bank employee: “Wow! I have never seen one person eat so much crab before!”
And The Number One Thing I Overheard at the Coos Bay BBQ:
One more U.S. Bank employee: “Yeah, well, Peter doesn’t get out much . . .”