Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Not even the windy city can blow this nametag away


Whenever I travel for the weekend I always remember to bring plenty of extra nametags. And not just my typical half-dozen pre-mades that say "Scott," but lots of blank nametags too, for those who wish to partake. (Along with a big fat Sharpie.)

But after 1,748 days, I've learned that different cities respond to nametags in different ways. This past Saturday after the Cardinals won their only game of the Cubs series (sniff), my brother and I celebrated at a local bar chock full of St. Louis fans. To my surprise, I noticed at least 15 different people wearing nametags that read such slogans as "From the Lou and Proud," "St. Louis Fan," and "Go Cards!" So not only were they wearing nametags, but they were fellow St. Louisans too! I hugged all of them.

Later that night I joined a group of people at a local Irish pub called PJ Clark's. Because I only knew 2 of the people in the group, everybody wanted nametags. (Good thing I brought extras!) So of course, I passed a few out. And you know, after 5 years, people still can't believe that I keep extra nametags and a pen with me at all times. Hey, why not? I was a boy scout once...

Then came the highlight of the weekend. It was 3:00 AM. The bars were closed, the cabbies were circling, and there was only one place left to go: The Weiner Circle. I'd heard about this place from my brother many times. Apparently it was the only hotdog stand in the world that was open till 4 AM, made the best cheese fries and cheddar dogs in the city and was run by 8 of the crudest, rudest and most vulgar women you've ever met in your life.

You've got to act mean and talk some smack to those girls, my brother reminded me. So just yell your order as loud as you can and be prepared to be insulted.

What? Be mean to a complete stranger? But I couldn't do that - it's not in my nature!

I found myself cramped under a tiny awning surrounded by dozens of drunken hotdog lovers yelling obscenities at the top of their lungs. People pushed and shoved. Money and ketchup were everywhere. Wow, this wasn't going to be easy, I thought. Better resort to some creative tactics.

I whipped out a blank nametag and a pen. I wrote "Cheddar Dog!!" in thick letters.

"NEXT!!" the woman yelled.

And I just stood there, holding this nametag up in the air with a giant smile on my face. The guy next to me probably thought I was a crazy - or a cop. The woman behind the counter squinted through the window as she read the order printed on my nametag.

She responded by flipping me the bird (with both hands) and walked away.

My poor heart nearly broke. How rude! I said. But I guess that's just how they do business at Weiner Circle. Still, I maintained my smile and continued to hold up the nametag for my Cheddar Dog. About 10 seconds later the same woman who'd previously offered me some valuable sexual advice looked back at my nametag. She re-read the order, noticed my ever present smile and busted out laughing. She shook her head, pointed at me and said, "You want pickles on that, Scott?"

It was the best hotdog I've ever eaten. And you better believe she got a great tip!

Unfortunately, the weekend wasn't all smiles and snacks. Because the only thing worse than walking around the streets of Chicago wearing a Cardinals t-shirt after the Cubs took 3 out of 4 games in the series, was doing so while wearing a nametag.

This was one of the rare times when I said to myself, Man - I sure wish I wasn't wearing this damn thing...

Cubs fans throughout the weekend offered friendly, sportsman-like comments such as:

  • "Hey Scott, go back to St. Louis!"
  • "So Scott, how much are the Cards gonna lose by today?"
  • "What, people from St. Louis can't remember their own names?"
  • "It's a long drive back to Missouri, Scott!"

    Hey, at least the Cardinals are above .500, are going to the playoffs this year and have won a world series since 1908. Take THAT, Windy City!

    LET ME ASK YA THIS...

    Do you think sporting events create or discourage friendliness among fans?

    * * * *
    Scott Ginsberg
    Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag
    www.hellomynameisscott.com

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