“Before God, we are all equally wise, and equally foolish.”

Albert Einstein


This is a college work experience story. Something I learned from working with CSC, Contemporary Security Company, that I have applied in business (and Life I imagine).

This one is about me and Nick Nolte.

It’s a Monday Night football game in the Los Angeles Coliseum. I am an on-field security supervisor. My job is essentially to make sure no nutjobs run out of the stands to attack a cheerleader or some football player who would probably crush them into a quart sized container size. But the other part of the job is to simply make sure the people on the field belong on the field. To a TV audience the sidelines and amount of people can often look a bit random, but the NFL has a shitload of rules on quantity of people. Celebrities, ex-football players, politicians, you gotta have a pass or you ain’t standing on a field.

Which leads me to Nick Nolte.

He is hanging out on the sideline with an attractive woman on his arm smiling at people and watching the game. My supervisor comes over and says, “I don’t think he has a field pass.” Now, to be clear, you don’t get into on-field supervisor positions without knowing you can make exceptions on occasion. So I double checked and said “That’s Nick Nolte, are you sure you want me to check?” Supervisor: “Yup. And get him off the field if he doesn’t.” Me, maybe 19 years old, says: “okay (feverishly thinking what the hell am I gonna do)”.

I walked over to Nick Nolte, who was sporting a wonderful Oakland Raiders warm up jacket, and asked him if he had a field pass. He wasn’t a jerk, he kind of looked a bit sheepish, and said “no, could you make an exception?” (kind of doing the guy thing making a side eye to the woman hanging on his arm like ‘could you help a guy out’). I said. “Give me a minute.”

I walked over to an LA Coliseum attendant I knew who managed a VIP section and asked him if he had any empty seats near the field; I needed two. To be clear. I don’t care if any game is sold out, there are always empty seats and they are almost always in VIP sections. He said sure. Just bring them to me and I will seat them.

I wandered back to Nolte, apologized for kicking him off the field, and then said “I got two seats for you if you follow me.” You know what? He shook my hand and said “thanks.”

I had a number of situations like this, but I remember this one the most because, well, it was Nick Nolte. But I learned some lessons with this stuff.

You can be a jerk or you can find a solution. Anyone can follow rules, but not everyone tries to do the right thing. The NFL, and the Coliseum, clearly had rules that should have been followed. Someone didn’t, probably because he was a celebrity and some young security guard was too intimidated to do the right thing, and someone needed to solve it – without being a jackass. Yeah. I dealt with some celebrities who were real dicks, but for the most part most celebrities were respectful if you were respectful to them. They all have jobs and they know other people have jobs to do. I would also note that I learned titles, professions, status, are irrelevant if you make them irrelevant. I can honestly say after this job I was never intimidated by who was in a room nor have I ever been star-struck by anyone. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out all of what I just said is just the business of being in the business. Ponder.

  • ** Nick Nolte postscript: several months after this Monday Night Football situation I was working at the LA Sports Arena and a boxing event (I think it was a Thomas Hearns fight) and I was walking the arena just checking out what the security guys were doing before I went to my spot and I heard some knocking on the outside floor to ceiling glass panels – it was Nick Nolte waving at me from outside. I wandered over to one of the doors and said “hey Mr. Nolte, how can I help you?” he said “first, I want to thank you for what you did that night” (I couldn’t believe he remembered me) and then said “I have a ticket, but I was afraid someone would take .. and then he flashed me a small flask.” I said, “sure, show me your ticket and as long as you promise me you won’t throw the flask at a boxer, come on in.” Yeah, yeah, yeah, that was breaking the rules, but if you don’t think there aren’t exceptions for people who go into the VIP section, you are nuts.

Written by Bruce