2.07.2005

SATURDAY NIGHT: 32nd Annual WABA Winter Gala and Benefit Auction
at the Embassy of Finland

WABA: Washington Area Bicyclist Association
waba.org
Embassy of Finland

this saturday night past I volunteered as a bartender at this WABA event
it was a pretty high dollar affair
guess I should have paid closer attention to the mention of "black tie" and worn my tuxedo
no worries..... I was the hired help
my sport coat, shirt, and wool dress pants were all shades of faded black
and
no one but Susan Klassameir noticed my unpolished Beatle boots

the whole bartending process had a mixture of emotions
at first I tried to make small talk with the guests
then I soon realized that it made more sense for me to accept my roll as "the hired help"
it became an assembly line process
tried to keep it simple....
RED OR WHITE....
any sissy that needed a spritzer got sent to the kid to my right
I was too busy looking at the next empty glass
and cracking open more bottles of wine whenever there was a break in the action
or which there were few... the people moved in herds like cows to water after too much time at the salt lick
some people tried to flex their culture and worldliness by requesting a Pinot Noir/Merlot/or cabernet sauvignon
when in actuality.... in a blind taste test.... they could not tell one from the other... nor could I
it was no bother
just slowed things down a bit
and got frustrating when they requested the one type of red wine that was not open in front of me

the kid to my right spent a little too much time presenting options
"forget the options..... serve the drinks"
get these folks drunk so that their wallets loosen up
there are too many options in this world... just serve the kool aid
fill it to the brim.... so that we use less glasses and so that they can spend more time at the auction tables rather than waiting in line at the bar

network later... we are in the weeds here
no need for networking or presenting options
we volunteered to serve drinks, not to make friends or to sell our product
their would most certainly be time to work the crowd after we were revealed by the late shift of bartenders

those who approached the bar got....
very very brief moment of eye contact
a quick little smile
a second where I allowed them to access the options in front of them
a polite request of what their drink or drinks of choice may be
a lean in to hear their whisper of a request
a repeat of their request to set their order to memory and to allow them to correct me if I had misheard them
an efficient and clean gathering of requested drink or drinks
a pass of the requested drink or drinks without risk of spilling a drop
a verbal exchange if it is initiated by the guest
a short response as they don't really want an answer
most questions are more rhetorical than actual questions demanding a personal answer
a second smile for the not so witty remark from the same drinkers and they returned for more drinks in an effort to break even on the ticket price
a small window into the world of the bartender.... all those witty one liners
the bartenders put up with so much all for a dollar at a time
and
then onto the next thirsty guest


it was quite a showing
for the most part I had no idea who anyone was or who anyone wasn't
it was nothing shy of amusing to see various members of the cycling culture all dressed up in their Sunday best and for some even better!

there were mechanics and shop managers looking more like James Bond than Jack Singletrack
there were lady couriers wearing long black dresses revealing more than their tattoos
there were female racers showing that they look as good in cocktail apparel as they do in uni-suits or downhill gear!
there were familiar faces whose bike I could describe but whose name I have never known

and there were many men with various styles of facial hair
and there were many women with a natural and bohemian feel
and there were people who are less easy to identify
and there were not very many people that seemed like the types to smoke cigars and drive Lincoln Navigators with a big fat W sticker on the bumper

many aspects of the cycling culture were represented
racers, commuters, couriers, industry types....
as well as people who may just be bicycle sympathetic

at one point I caught a glimpse of College Park Cycles shop owner Larry Black exchanging trade secrets with City Bikes owner Charlie McCormick
two very different shop and two shop owners with very different reputations

there were random encounters with neighbors and friends as well as friend of friends and friends of co-workers
I got to hear the voices of faces I had seen for years but never stood so close to before
and yet again another night out on the town exposes just how small Washington DC really is
everytime I leave the house the world just seems to get smaller

it was a great gathering and a glorious good time
I shared my card to my BLOG with a few people who I thought would not be offended too much by my opinion
while I refrained from sharing my fringe attitude and ideas with those who I felt would frown at some of my postings

congratulations to the staff at WABA
from my perspective the event was a complete success
I hope that they met their contribution goals
glad that I was able to offer some assistance in some way or another


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