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A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Nationals Follies

So I just got back from seeing a ballgame at Nationals Park with a friend.

Now, even in the height of the fluid rule stuff when flying, when you couldn't bring on any liquid of any sort at all, I was able to bring on an empty plastic bottle which I could ask the flight attendants to fill up for me the moment I got on so that I would have some water at my seat during the flight. Even once when I had to go thru the security check with my empty bottle and then one of the random checks they were doing when you boarded. Even today, I still bring an empty half-liter soda bottle with me so I can go to the drinking fountain and have water without having to buy a new bottle of bottled water all the time.

So when I read up on the Washington Nationals web site about their security rules and saw this "one per person, a factory sealed water bottle of up to 1 liter," I decided to test it. Knowing I was doing evil, I had an empty 16 oz plastic bottle in my bag, which I hoped to fill with water at the drinking fountain. And the security people at the First Base Gate at 6:05 on a Friday night were having none of it. The supervisor grabbed the A to Z brochure to show me their Rule, and my empty plastic bottle had to get tossed.

There is no possible justification for this. I could have a 33 oz bottle of water, factory sealed, take it 5' further thru the turnstile, dump it on the ground, and that's OK. And that is the exact same thing that I was just forbidden to bring in.

This isn't because the Nationals want to be the only people to sell you food. You can bring in the 1 liter bottle of water, and other food in small quantity. I wasn't trying to bring in some Colored Liquid that could be Anything. It was an empty clear plastic bottle, just like a factory sealed water bottle would be if I dumped it out 5' from where I was standing. Any evil thing I could do with the 16 oz plastic bottle I had to toss I could do twice that with the allowed factory-sealed 1-liter water bottle.

Well, two possible reasons. The Nationals are on a water meter, and they can afford to give people refills but not give everyone their entire water for the game. Or, the US idea that there might be somebody like me who thinks it crazy not to re-use a plastic bottle, thinks it crazy not to use the drinking fountain at the airport or the ballpark or the wherever instead of buying new petroleum-based plastic water bottles all the time, is so alien to the culture of America right now that it never occured to the Nationals that somebody might want on a hot day to reuse a water bottle, and bring in an empty.

Both of these would be very sad.

Six degrees of separation ... if you know anyone who knows anyone who knows anyone in Nationals land, let them know about this silliness. The same empty bottle I take on plane should be fair game for Nationals Park.

I filled out a complaint form at the stadium, I will write to the Nationals, I will write to the Washington Post. If I ever go to a Nationals game again I do not want to be forced into buying another bottle.

And my friend is upset that none of the level 3 garnish stands for the hotdogs had been filled with onions. You can have all the relish you want with none of the onions, and all the factory-sealed plastic bottles one per person, but no empties.


Anonymous said...

Sorry that you ran into the security goons at Nationals Park - we're all trying to take them in stride here. If you write to the Post, you might want to target your correspondence to Marc Fisher, a "local beat" columnist who has written extensively about the Nats, and also about public stupidity. His email is Good luck!

Tim Akers said...

Um. Go Cubs?

Tim Akers said...


I replied to your email this morning but got a fail error from AOL. Thought you might like to know.