Nothing eventful. New characters are introduced.
The lay out was like nothing I had never seen before. Fences surrounded the designated concert area, keeping the small crowd of kids that had begun to show up at bay until the first official day of Warped Tour kicked off at ten. Within our confines was another fenced in area, containing the grandiose tour buses and humble vans.
"C'mon," Dirty grabbed my arm. "we're gonna be late for orientation." I arched an eyebrow at the male, but let him continue dragging me along anyway. All around us, people were scurrying about, eager to set up in time. Pure chaos.
"Orientation? I thought you and Ty were gonna show me the ropes."
"Don't worry, we'll break you in. It's just, every year, the head tour manager makes this speech to all the merch kids." I nodded. My eyes grew wide at the mob that was forming.
"All these people do merch?" I asked, tugging at my laminated ID badge that hung from a Fall Out Boy themed lanyard. Dirty nodded as he guided me through the crowd via a hand on the small of my back.
A man stood before us with a bullhorn in hand. He was older, maybe late 30's, with a mess of blond hair upon his head.
"Hey guys. As some of you know, I'm Jordan Cleary. I'm basically the head of merchandising. For those who have been here before, welcome back. And for the newbies, you're in for quite an experience." Dirty jabbed me with his elbow and grinned.
"Now, I'm a pretty easy going guy...unless you give me a reason not to be. Warped Tour can be a lot of fun, but it's also hard work. I do not tolerate laziness. I also do not take kindly to stealing. These infractions will earn you a one-way ticket home. Understood?" A petite girl standing next to me snickered to herself.
"He makes the same bullshit speech every year," She said, rolling her blue eyes. "'I also suggest saving any romantic intentions until after August 14th.'" The woman mimicked his deep voice.
"I also suggest saving any romantic intentions until after August 14th." I looked over at this female to see her grinning victoriously. Must be a seasoned veteran. "Fraternizing with band members is also strongly discouraged."
"Yeah, Dirty. No fraternizing." I whispered sternly. He rolled his eyes at me. Jordan continued with his spiel, but I couldn't seem to pay attention. I was too enthralled by the turn out. I'd be lucky if I met half of these people.
Through the crowd, I noticed a young fellow merch kid with his eyes upon me. His dark bangs hung in his slender, metal adorning face as his head tilted slightly. His thin lips curved into a smile as he waved at me in a faintly coy manner. I grinned back and returned the gesture.
"Who's he?" Dirty asked, gruffly nodding his chin toward the stranger. I shrugged. His guess was as good as mine.
"I don't know." I replied, clearly baffled. The husky male narrowed his brown eyes at the interloper.
"Why's he waving at you?" I shrugged once more.
"I don't know." I repeated in the same tone I used before.
"Want me to take him outside...beat the shit out of him?" I didn't have the heart to tell him we were already outdoors and there was no need to rough anyone up.
"Nah. It's alright. I'm sure he's just being friendly." Dirty shook his head.
"It's the friendly ones you have to watch. A word of advice: any guys here who are nice to you just want to fuck you." I rolled my eyes.
"Does that mean you want to fuck me?" He scrunched his nose up at me.
"No. I'm not gay, Lola." He said as if it were obvious. That fell about 30 yards short of making any sense at all.
"As far as my chick radar is concerned, you're a dude. And I don't fuck dudes." I've heard otherwise.
"And Tee's are under here in boxes. Basically, just try to keep everything stocked." I nodded at Tyler, my fellow mercher. We stood under the awning of our booth, which shielded us from the scorching sun.
"Sounds pretty simple." He grinned.
"Yeah. It does. But the simplest things become quite complicated when you're constantly being bombarded with screaming, sweaty teenagers in desperate need of the new Fall Out Boy poster." He commented as he swept a blond curl out of his vision. "Now this is our tip jar." I smiled at the Folger's coffee can.
"Yes it is. For some reason, girls tend to get more tips," I think I knew the reason...or reason/s/ "we basically survive off tips. So do what you gotta do." I saluted him and adjusted the bust line of my tank top.
"Getting ready for tips, I see." I looked over to see the 'seasoned veteran' in the booth next to me.
"Yeah, she's a quick learner." I frowned at Tyler's unnecessary remark and turned my attention to the little brunette.
"I'm Lola." I extended a hand, which she shook without hesitation.
"Bridget." She replied, adjusting her purple grandma glasses. "You must be a newbie. It's usually just Ty and Nate that run the Fall Out Boy merch."
"What about me?" Dirty asked, approaching with a bottle of red Gatorade in hand. My new acquaintance sighed and rolled her eyes.
"I was only mentioning the people who actually contribute...unless you count getting wasted and mouthing off to be a contribution." She snipped. Dirty grinned at her.
"You totally want me." She wrinkled her nose and scoffed before returning to work.
"Now why did you have to go and do that?" I asked, snatching his beverage away.
"Me and Bridge go way back. We've been merching together for years. It's our little game."
"A game? You've been trying to hook up with her since day one. Face it, it's never going to happen because she's not like that." Tyler said as he began setting out t-shirts for the afternoon rush. Dirty grinned lewdly as he watched her.
"Oh, it'll happen. You just wait."
"I don't know about that. I mean, you guys come from two totally different worlds." He shifted his gaze from the woman back to me and raised an unruly eyebrow.
"Two different worlds?" I nodded and took a swig of his Gatorade.
"Yeah. She's bathes and you clearly don't. It just wouldn't work out." His lips curled, giving way to two rows of dull, beer stained teeth before seizing the icy beverage from my grasp.
"You are too funny, LoTro."
The afternoon crowd stampeded through the merch area, snatching up countless pieces of merchandise with greedy little hands. Between dealing out clothes and the appropriate change, manipulating men into tipping with my "body parts of persuasion" and guarding against five finger discounts, I was exhausted, not to mention famished. How these people could do this day in and day out was unfathomable.
"Hey Lola," I turned to see Bridget in her respective booth. "I'm heading to lunch, wanna come with?" I looked over at Tyler.
"Can I Ty? Can I go out and play?" He sighed and dismissed me with a wave. I gave him an unreciprocated hug and hurried away from the booth.
Together, we weaved through the multitude of bodies and eventually made our way to the "staff and band" area. I watched as Bridget expertly flashed her ID badge to the security guy and entered the fenced in district of the venue. I, however, fumbled awkwardly with my tag. The burly man grinned and let me pass.
"Do not lose your badge. It's a bitch to get a new one and without it, they won't feed you." I nodded at her words of wisdom as we got in line for the buffet style set up. She effortlessly grabbed a tray and a plate before handing them to me. Without hesitation, I blindly piled on the food. I wasn't sure what I got, but at that point, it was irrelevant. Once we were finished our attack, we sat at a vacant wooden picnic table.
"So how do you like it so far?" She asked, bringing a plastic fork full of food to her mouth.
"It's different. Very crazy atmosphere." She nodded, a childlike grin upon her face.
"Yeah. That's what I love about it. Everyday is different from the last. You never know wh-" I watched as a frown overwhelmed her delicate features. I turned to see what she was looking at. It was a female. Young, probably early twenties. Her bleached blond hair was coiffed in tight, thick dreadlocks with hot pink tips. They were restrained in a messy ponytail.
"What's wrong?" I asked before shoveling food into my mouth.
"Adrienne." She said with hatred apparent in her voice. That was what I hated about being the new kid. I had no grasp of the history these people had with each other.
"Who's Adrienne?" Bridget sighed and tucked loose strands of dark brown hair behind her ears.
"Some might consider her a merch girl. I would say she's a walking STD. If it's got a penis and can play an instrument, she'll fuck it." I placed my hand over my mouth to keep from spraying her with half masticated chunks of food.
"So she's a groupie?" My new friend nodded.
"And has been one since the first day she got here. She and I have been merching at Warped for 4 years now. The first night we were here, she hooked up with some fucking roadie. Since then, she's progressed to naÃ¯ve band members. It's pretty sad. I mean, as females, we're already stuck with a stigma. But girls like her just make it worse for the girls who aren't like that, ya know?" I nodded. The woman wasted no time as she approached a gaggle of men sitting around a nearby picnic table.
"Ladies, ladies, ladies." If it was possible, Bridget's frown grew deeper as Pete plopped down next to me and threw an arm around my shoulders. He was soaked with sweat, no doubt from having just finished his set.
"Go away Wentz. We're trying to keep our food down." He placed his hands over his heart as if he were wounded by her words.
"Now Bridge, is that any way to talk to an old friend?" If looks could kill...
"If you were an old friend, I'd throw myself in front of a bus." Perhaps it was a little too sudden, but I think I'm in love with this girl.