Okay, I know there’s no home game this week, but even on off weeks a tailgating expert is always trying to find ways to improve the game plan for the next home game. Since last week we could only cover the absolute basics, I wanted to delve in a little deeper into the Fed Ex experience.
First, anyone who’s tailgated Fed Ex Field during the warmer months will know about the evolutionary oddity known as the Redskins Bees. It seems that over the years, the bees have adapted to their environment, and they’ve learned that there is rewarding food and drink across the leagues of pavement where the big humans in the burgundy and gold gather. I can’t imagine that this is normal bee behavior; I mean, it doesn’t seem to matter where you park, the bees are going to find you. And it’s not like there’s flowers or trees or even much grass nearby; it’s a parking lot!
They *will* try to fly into your open cup of however, so make sure to look at what you’re about to drink before you swallow an irate stinger with wings. And they will get into your vegetable dip or whatever else you leave lying around. We’ve tried intentionally spilling a decent amount of some sugary drink away from the tailgating spot (to attract them away from us) with some small success, but the pests never completely go away. At any rate, they rate no higher than a curious nuisance. If you ignore them, they will generally take their very tiny tithe of food and go away.
Trash: Always bring a trash bag or two. There are dumpsters stationed at regular intervals and the Fed Ex crew comes by to pick up other tailgating garbage as well, so cleanup is relatively easy. But do everyone a favor and at the very least put it all in a bag. If it costs them more to keep the lots clean, parking prices could increase, so let’s just not go there.
Other common items to bring that everyone always forgets: Paper towels, plastic cutlery, condiments (ketchup, mustard, whatever), paper plates, plastic cups. Usually the chef will also want to bring some Tupperware for any leftovers (leftover burgers can be awesome after you get home and the hangover has kicked in). Presumably you’ll have a cooler with some ice to keep your drinks cold, so you can store the leftovers and other perishables in the cooler safely without worrying about them spoiling.
Handy wipes are also nice to have; I’m not a neat freak, but those porta-Johns aren’t the most sanitary places in the world, so it might be nice to be able to clean your hands before you start handling your burger again.
If you want to be stylish and show your colors, the Redskins make all sorts of tailgating gear that you can buy. I’d recommend buying them online (nfl.com or redskins.com) rather than at the stadium because the prices tend to be cheaper, but if you don’t mind spending an extra buck or two, the shop at the stadium is pretty nice and obviously quite convenient. It gets very crowded before and right around kick-off time, so be prepared to spend time waiting in line or go sometime during the game when the lines are shorter (or better yet, get your girlfriend/boyfriend/whatever to go for you; that way you don’t miss any of the game!)
Theft: Sad but true, you cannot just assume your things will stay safe when you go inside. Lock everything down whenever possible. We’ve lost several magnetic car stickers because we’d leave it out and someone walks off with it.
This sounds stupid, but it’s important: Don’t set your car on fire! Make sure to allow time for your grill to cool down before you need to pack it up. I’d recommend giving it at least a half hour cool-down, though you can probably get away with 15 minutes if you needed to. If it’s too hot for you to hold comfortably, it’s too hot for you to stow in your car. Also, make sure to stow your propane tanks properly. They’re pretty durable and resistant, but why tempt fate? They all have labels discussing specifics, but in general avoid anywhere they might get too hot (e.g. right on top of a too-hot grill, in direct sunlight during 100 degree weather, etc) and avoid putting too much weight or pressure on top of them. When you’re walking home from a Redskins victory, ready to go home and relax after a day of shouting your heart out, the last thing you want is to come back to your parking spot and find an empty crater there and some very cross Fed-Ex security personnel.
Finally, there’s an important bit of etiquette that every stadium attendant needs to know, and yet many do not. If you’re going to walk down an aisle in front of people to get to and from your seat, PLEASE for the love of God, WAIT UNTIL THE PLAY IS OVER!!! Don’t start walking in front of people and blocking their view of that key 3rd and 12 play. People pay good money to be there to see Santana Moss catch that long touchdown bomb from JC, so try not to block their view while it’s happening, mmkay? One of the advantages football has over other spectator sports is that there are regular pauses between the action so people have time to move out of their seat without disturbing their neighbor’s enjoyment of the game. Be considerate. Don’t be THAT GUY.