Dude, Quit Pissin’ on My Van

The guy in the white plaid shirt in the background was one of four people I caught pissing on my van.

Commerce City, CO – On our first day on the lot at Dick’s Sporting Good’s Park, a tall dready I’d met prior to the lot opening pulls me aside to ask if I want to do a bunch of coke. “Not really,” I reply. He seems a little surprised, a little disappointed. “Mind if I duck inside your van for a minute?” he asks, like he really needs a bump. “Ah,” I say, “I’d rather you didn’t.” No luck here, he darts off to find someone else with a van who wants to snort coke. Me? Well, I had beer to sell.

Owning a van is great, except for when it isn’t. It’s so large that I can’t get to parts of the windshield when squeegeeing off the evidence of an insect holocaust. Keeping the petro flowing in a big gas-guzzling V8 is an obvious money suck and environmental hazard. Negotiating tight places is a bitch and its weight and size do a number on my brakes. Coming down a very steep mountain in Maryland they began to smoke.

These are small aggravations compared to those aroused on the Phish lot. Over three nights at least six men pissed on my van as its size provided them perfect cover. This in itself ain’t all that surprising, but considering vendors set up behind their vehicles it seemed awfully brazen of them to pee on a vehicle whose owner is just feet away. But people are high and drunk and lazy and do dumb things. Understandable. But what irritated me most were their cavalier reactions when called out on it.

The vendor next to me chased off two people on the second night. The guy in the plaid shirt in the picture above was the first one I caught. “Hey!” I yelled, walking toward him. “Are you really pissing on my van?”

“Just on the tire,” he says, looking over his shoulder.

“Seriously!?!” I shot back, expecting him to dam the stream, but it kept on flowing. He must’ve though I was going to clock him because I was closing in on him with the hope he’d just zip up and go away, but he didn’t. He just stood their and kept pissing. “You wouldn’t fight a guy with his penis out, would you?” he asks.

His girlfriend, who had been twisting a joint this entire time in the car next to us, yells out to him, “Just piss by my car… not on it, next to it.”

He grumbled and cursed, but obeyed the woman.

Others, too, used the “just-on-the-tire” defense and seemed just as shocked that I didn’t appreciate their thoughtfulness. Is it just me or are people generally okay with others pissing on their wheels? What makes tires fair game and not bumpers? Does bitching about it really give off “bad vibes,” as one accused?

Some were more considerate than others. One guy was actually on his knees pissing under the van. I still called him out for the puddle he was making right where I’d step to get inside the vehicle. Not to mention I had to wait for him to finish before I could open the door. Security was trying to clear the lot and I needed to load the coolers. Like the first guy, he seemed to piss forever.  “Will you hurry up already?” I scolded, to which he replied, “Hey man, you don’t need to be rude about it.”

Anyone who has tended bar understands the role includes playing counselor to those sad souls who try to wash away their troubles with booze. This held true at The Shakedown Tavern where many came seeking sympathy in the form of free shots. On our last night in Chicago we were visited by several who’d been sold bogus tickets to the show. I poured a round of whiskey shots – on the house.

But as a bar owner you can’t help everyone forget their troubles for free. With me, the quality of my charity corresponds directly with the quality of their approach. In Commerce City, I kicked down a few free shots to a guy who’d just gotten out of jail. Arrested the day before for selling drugs, he was released just before the next night’s show. But then an officer who recognized him wouldn’t allow him into the show. The story was worth a few shots.

But those who come expecting a handout likely won’t get one. One gem vendor wanted a free drink because his sales were slow. Sorry, bud. Another wanted to pay $2 for two drinks because he’d been following Phish since 1996. Maybe it’s time to get a job. Sometimes the pitch was as trite as, “Can I get a free shot?” Um, no.

On the second night during the show, when the lot becomes a virtual ghost town, we were visited by an older black guy who mumbled something fierce. He pulled a Stella tallboy from the cooler. “Hmchdisiz?” he asked. Four-dollars I told him, but his buddy, a wispy dude with a cracked out countenance, only had two dollars that he didn’t want to part with. I pointed him to the cooler with $2 beers. “Gmetodlrsz,” the mumbler demanded. They quibbled a bit until the mumbler got his way. He throws $2 on the table and walks off with the Stella. “I need two more dollars for that,” I said. But he just smiled and walked off.

The next day I saw the guy at a nearby gas station. He comes up to the van and asks, “Yallsllnlqur?”

“Not here,” I said.

I couldn’t decipher what he said next. I didn’t really care as I was still stewing about him shorting me on the Stella the night before. But I ask him to repeat himself anyhow. With remarkable clarity he screams at me,  “I didn’t stutter muthafucka!” and storms off.

By the end of the last night of Phish’s 2011 tour things were getting a little crazy. A steady breeze whipped up a storm of red Colorado soil that coated everything and stuffed up your sinuses. A Gallagher impersonator smashed melons, while vendors gave away what they hadn’t sold. After selling our last beer I noticed a pair of sketchy dudes leaning against the back of my van. their backpack tucked behind the rear wheel. Not only do I dislike people pissing on my tires, but am not too found of people stashing drugs behind them, either. A similar thing happened in Chicago when some knucklehead cracked open a nitrous tank using my van for cover.

But it the lot was closing down and the tow truck drivers were shouting through their megaphones that vendors had 10 minutes before they began towing vehicles. The sketch pads left without any encouragement from me. With Purple Thunder loaded up we rolled toward the exit but were obstructed by a fistfight that erupted in front of us. To the rear, a vendor was screaming at a car full of people that they were “going to get theirs.” Trash was everywhere and people were stumbling all around. Event staff and police were losing patience with the stragglers.

It was clear that the party was over.


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