Maintain the Mellow


ComFest starts today. Last year I served beer at the festival, and had such a great time that I eagerly signed up to do it again this year. My shift is tomorrow (Saturday) night at the Jazz Bar.

I wanted to help out even more with ComFest this year, though, so I also signed up for roving security. My shift starts in just a few hours.

The festival organizers are extremely conscientious of the vibe they put out, and have been worrying for some time that the entire idea of “security” is too macho for many of the festival attendees and would-be volunteers. So this year they renamed the security team to “safety”, because that more accurately reflects what they do: make sure everyone’s as safe as can be so as to enjoy the weekend as much as possible. We’re not bouncers, or heavies; instead we’re the friendly folks who help people who need some help.

The mantra of the safety team is “maintain the mellow”. The entire festival aims to be a laid-back, easy-going event that is fun for everyone. The safety training materials admonish us to be “passionate in [our] commitment to non-violence,” and remind us that “everyone has a part of the truth.” We’re not trying to eject people who might, as a result of poor decision making, become dehydrated and therefore drunk. Rather, it’s our job to help that drunk person get some water, and maybe some food. If necessary, we can sit with them for a spell to help them calm down, and to make sure they’re going to be okay.

Along the way we’re also responsible to watch for underage drinking, and folks who decide to bring their own beer into the park. Both can cost the festival its liquor license. The former is one of the few things for which we’re likely to engage the cops who will be on-site. The latter is where our commitment to non-violence comes into play: we’re not supposed to eject them, nor to make them dispose of their beers. If they have bottles, we’re to encourage them to pour the beers into plastic cups (and to hand them plenty of cups, if they need ‘em) and politely ask them to help keep the festival afloat by purchasing beers. According to the safety coordinators, the overwhelming majority of attendees are calm, reasonable people, so maintaining the mellow isn’t too hard. But if we come across as hard nosed, or inflexible, we can really ruin the mood of the weekend for people.

So if you’re coming to ComFest this weekend, keep an eye out for me! I’ll help you maintain the mellow tonight, and I’ll serve you beers tomorrow night!

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