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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Terry Saves the Day

So I just got back to SoFla this afternoon from Indianapolis where I spent the past five days at the annual convention for the National Association of Black Journalists. And I'm exhausted.

But that's a good thing.

See, when I arrived early in the week I immediately began to encounter rude people. The folks were great at the Indy Motor Speedway, where the convention held an opening night reception. Otherwise, everyone with a service job my guys (roommates and co-hosts of a blogging seminar) and I encountered was snarky. One day it was the concierge at the Hyatt Regency downtown - actually on several days it was the concierge. Other days it was a bartender or waitress. When we got service at all it was given grudgingly and with attitude. The only redeeming quality to that hotel was the collective friendliness and attentive service of the wait staff at Porch, a hotel restaurant.

It was a shame, 'cause the 'tudes were contrary to the beauty of downtown Indy. It really is a nice looking downtown.

So my guys and I got increasingly discouraged. And by Saturday evening, as we sat inside the Rock Bottom Brewery waiting for our dinner, we were pretty salty and saying pouty things like "Can't wait to get out of here," and "I'll never come back to Indianapolis, bunch o' jerks." You get the picture.

But then we met Terry. Actually we saw him first. In order to save time we sat and ate at the bar, and we noticed Terry sipping an ornate stein and leaning against the corner of the bar a few feet from us. He was watching Venezuela (and I think Japan) play a Little League World Series game on a nearby TV, and every few minutes he would smile or chuckle at something we said.

Finally, my guy Steve, who is the most outgoing person on earth, made eye contact with Terry. And the two of them sized each other up. A few seconds later, Steve, as is his style, stands up reaches across me, extends his hand to Terry, and said "How's it goin', homie? I'm Steve."

Terry took Steve's hand, smiled back, and introduced himself. He then extended his hand to my other guy, Andrew, and me.

Terry began to chat us up and confessed he'd heard bits and pieces of our conversation. So he insisted that we accept his apology on behalf of the knuckleheads we'd met in Indy.

He told us he sold mechanical equipment, and we told him we were reporters - me at the Miami Herald, Andrew at the Houston Chronicle, and Steve at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

We all talked for about 40 minutes, getting to know each other, debating politics and engaging in all the usual pub chat.

We talked about the different seminars and workshops at the convention, including the panel discussion with the reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton about the state of black leadership in this country. And we talked about how we couldn't figure out who had designated that pair leaders, 'cause we certainly hadn't gotten the memo announcing their elections to, well, anything.

When we got bored with the place and decided to leave the three of us put our heads together and agreed we should invite Terry to come along. He was thrilled and over the course of the next several hours showed us some of the best downtown Indy has to offer, including Nicky Blaine's, the absolute best cigar lounge I've ever seen.

Terry wasn't a politician, but for his salvaging of our unhappy time we designated him the "Other Mayor" of Indianapolis.

He was truly a goodwill ambassador and compelled us to re-evaluate the judgement we'd passed on his city.

You're lucky, Indy. If not for Terry, this blog posting would have ended much differently.


  • Glad Terry was able to salvage your impression of Hoosiers! We're not ALL bad.

    I know exactly what you mean about bad service though. We went to Grand Cayman in the spring, and 9 out of 10 of those we encountered, which were hired to serve, were AWFUL. We did find out the nastiness was unique to our resort. People like that can ruin a trip, and cause you to badmouth a place forever.

    By Blogger Freddie, at 5:43 AM  

  • Wonder whether the attitude of those serving is somehow connected to their wages? After all, if various places pay peanuts who're they likely to attract?

    & good for Terry.

    By Anonymous bronchitikat, at 5:49 AM  

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