We're the ones your mother warned your about...No, seriously. We are.

Welcome to the Grove - now stand there like good little chattel.

Note : I didn't go looking for this particular story. In fact, you guys were going to get two little articles about the difference between East Coast gyms & West Coast gyms. I wrote the following not out of spite for a one-time incident, but because it follows a trend that I've seen repeated more than once at The Grove not only as a shopper there, but also in the two year period in which I actually worked there part time. This also seems to be a popular mistake made by many companies nowadays wherein anyone under the age of 30 is treated rather dismissively, but I can honestly say that this was one of the most blatant cases I've ever experienced.

Welcome to the Grove. Not even three years old, it's the new "in" place to shop. Picture Main Street Disney with an Abercrombie & a Nordstom's, throw in a trolley, and you've got the perfect visual. Catering to the pampered & luxurious, the Grove proports to have a higher standard of customer service and in fact calls it a Concierge Service - the philosophy behind that being that they want you to feel as though you're shopping in a five star hotel. The Wall Street Journal at one point actually named the Grove as the number one concierge service in the country. Lovely, right? They're willing to do whatever it takes to make you feel comfortable and at home.

Or at least, they are if you're the right sort.

Last Saturday, I strolled down to the Grove because Alanis Morissette was not only making an appearance, but also giving a free concert. I live about a mile north of the Grove, and know from experience that it's often easier to simply walk in than try to find parking, especially on a day when there's an event on-site. I know this because the Grove does not guarantee free parking for the employees of the stores there. Therefore, the majority of the employees don't park in the structure simply because they can't afford to pay a daily or monthly parking fee just to be able to go to work. Instead, we park in the neighborhood around the Grove and walk in. At Christmastime, we're actually barred from parking in the structure at all during certain periods, and at best can park in the CBS lot and be shuttled over. Why? Well, the story circulating amongst most shop employees (which I honestly have never had time to actually look at the Grove's original blueprints & verify) is that the levels that were supposed to be for employee parking are instead used for their valet service which allows customers to have their cars washed and detailed while they're shopping.

After having watched two summers of their free concert series, I knew that they normally start off with a fairly large name & then continue with lineups that can best be termed as ... dubiously current. However, as anyone with half a brain that pays attention to pop culture can tell you - if Alanis were showing up, there would probably be a fairly large crowd, so not only should I walk in, but for lawn seating, I should show up early. I stopped for tea and a muffin, arriving around 9:30 with my camera and some editing work that I needed to do. Chose myself a nice spot right by the side of the stage, and settled in for what I figured would be a quiet two hours getting some work done, since all I needed to do now was sit tight & hold my spot.

Not. So. Much. It would seem that the spot I and another couple about my age named Joyce & James had chosen was a fire hazard, but no one had thought to actually, you know, bar off that section to prevent people from sitting there in the first place. We were summarily kicked out by security, and ended up finding seats on the edge of the grass because that was the only other spot open near the front where one had a shot in hell of getting decent photos.

Let me show you the set up of the venue.

View from the first "row" of lawn seating right behind the barriers.

First, there was a pond between the first possible place to stand and the stage itself. This means there was a minimum 200-yard distance. The truth of the matter is, I could get a closer view of Alanis if I saw her across Melrose shopping. But yah, okay, free concert, sure.

Second, there's the bridge that crosses the pond. That was blocked off, so you're put another twenty yards of so back, and behind the bridge is the landscaping of different rocks which would actually be perfect to sit on, but you can't go on that either, so add another forty yards back. If nothing else, this brings me to say that if anyone has recommendations for a good zoom lens that would fit a Nikon N60, please feel free to e-mail me, because every time I go to an event at the Grove, I'm reminded that I really need to work on that.

With that stellar distance visual in mind, the three of us ended up on the edge where the grass ended and the rock outcrop began, and purposely chose spots on the mulch on the side, thinking that way we'd be out of the way of the crowd that would inevitably show up.

Not half an hour goes by, and security comes by again to let us know that no one's allowed to be on those rocks either, and could we move about ten feet over? When I took out my card & explained to him that not only was I the editor of a web magazine, but I'm an artist that would like to photograph the event, the cordial response I received was that unless I was "real press", he didn't care.

What? I'm sorry? Okay, as a modern sort of girl, I am mature enough to understand the intricacies of fire hazards and insurance risks. (Hello Closet B!) However. This is not your first time holding an event here at the Grove. Therefore, wouldn't it make more sense and have saved you a whole hell of a lot of trouble to put up your security structures before people started showing up? I rolled out of bed at eight am on a Saturday morning to get my stuff done, get showered, & walk down here early enough to be ready for the concert. Why couldn't you?

We grumbled a little, but obliged security & moved over. Our spots were now near the end of The Bridge We Cannot Stand On Because Fans Are Unstable, and we start talking to another guy in his mid-twenties* named Nesh - seems he'd been moved over there as well.
If you're starting to pick up a pattern in the age group here, good job.

Twenty minutes after that, two security guards come over again, this time joined by a woman in rather badly fitting orange pants and a white jacket that was just...well, I'm sure she's had better ideas. They then proceed to stand five feet behind us while the woman instructs the guards that "She's gone, he's gone, I don't need them, they're gone, move them". It was actually done rather loudly & without regard to the fact that, as Joyce finally turned to me and remarked, "Should we tell her that we can hear her?"

It would seem that now, thanks to orange-pants woman, they wanted to not only move us back more, but also push us over even further. When we attempted to point out that we'd been moved three times because of their bad planning, this lovely bastion of customer service was kind enough to inform us that they were making space because she wouldn't be able to get through otherwise if there was an emergency as it seems there had been during the Brian McKnight concert, which, I'd like to state, was a year ago. You had an issue a year ago and you didn't think to plan around it until two hours before your event today? That's brilliant.

Once again, the term "fire hazard" was thrown around, and she was kind enough to inform us that we shouldn't complain, because it's a free concert. In the course of conversation, she then managed to top that statement with the cordial parting shot of, "Trust me, sweetheart, you don't pay my salary." And then she marched off. The area was cordoned off, and they were even so nice as to send someone from housekeeping to come wipe down the barriers so that they would be a shiningly white insult to us. Not only that, but our new friend in the orange print pants was so kind as to walk by and, just in case we didn't hear her the first time, repeat that we didn't pay her salary. She then proceeded to use the "fire lane" to place the press core in front of us. Looks like "emergency" = it's important that the photographers & KTLA are able to get decent footage.

Please note the press that was lined up in front of us on The Bridge We Cannot Stand On Because Fans Are Unstable.

Where the photographer is right there? That would be the spot that James, Joyce, & I were thrown out of because our presence there was a fire hazard.


You mispronounced my name...you didn't wait for all the information...before you turned me away....