Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Unmaking of a DMan

As a large group of N.A.B.A.B.N.A. employees sat around laughing and smiling at Patty McGovern's on Thursday night, I posed the question, "Why do we only get together when someone is leaving?" Luke, a man from New Orleans that I've known for over 5 years now, said, "We had something like that back home. People only get together for weddings and funerals, both somber occasions." Now, I'm in no way near to the cynical levels that Luke's views dictate, but I am always wondering why the night shift doesn't go out after work, have a good time and just get to know each other.

There was a survey, about 6 months ago, at the call center and one of the questions was, "I have a best friend at work", and people were to rate the truth of this statement on a scale of 1 - 5. We're striving for a 5, but our center was at a 2.8. There are some thoughts about the phrasing of the question, but it still seemed a bit lacking. Why don't we connect with each other at work? I have never felt connections lacking, but then, I've always wanted to go out after work with members from the team, friends from other teams (this is how I know DM, Keem, Matt, Char, et al). But nights planned out at local bars/restaurants are few and far between. Unless someone organizes a going away party, few decide to get together.

All of this brings me to Thursday night, the night of Donovan's going away party at Patrick "Patty" McGovern's, an Irish pub in downtown St. Paul that serves Guinness on tap where the old St. Paul crew used to frequent. There were 14 people from our group there and only 2 were high with the spirits. Donovan and his childhood friend, Tyler, were both enjoying the Guinness, although Donovan was enjoying it at a much faster rate. In a period of 7 hours, Donovan consumed over 11 "tall" Guinnesses (more than a pint) and he was loving life. Luckily, Donovan is a friendly drunk, no violence, no swearing, just wanting to share affections. He enjoys being the center of attention, which is great since it was his party and he deserved the attention.

He sat at the table, toasting us all, "Here's to you, and here's to me, friends we will always be. And if we should ever disagree, feck you, and here's to me!" He sang songs and drank his beer. Sometimes he would get restless and decide to stroll outside the bar, enjoying the summer night air and checking out the bikes as they passed.

At one point, Donovan disappeared. This was nothing new, he would like to walk around the bar and return, it is a safe neighborhood, so we were not too worried about him. Tyler suddenly spots Donovan and calls me over. Across the street, on the hood of someone's Toyota, there was Donovan, awake but sprawled out, looking as if he wanted to sun himself in the moonlight. Thankfully, that is when Uncle Carl (a nickname Luke has given Carl, don't ask why, no one knows, not even Luke himself) showed up and we were able to get Donovan back into the bar. A few of the early arrivals started to leave and Donovan had himself a good time saying his goodbyes.

Soon we found Donovan again, this time on top of a Jaguar, complaining that the guy who owned the car was in no way as cool as his dad, another Jag owner. After his stint at being a traffic control cop (in which Tyler and I kept telling him to get out of the middle of the street before he got hit by a car or arrested (does the phrase, "Drunk in Pub-lic" come to mind?)), the Jag looked like a comfortable place to rest. We were able to lure him away ("Donovan, there are people inside who came here to see you. You should go talk with them.") and he decided it was time to go home.

I had offered, early in the evening, to give Tyler and Donovan a lift back to Donovan's apartment (6 blocks from the bar). Char hopped in the car with us and we had our own little adventure. My Johnny Cash CD was in the dash and Donovan (a huge fan) kept turning up the volume and singing along. He directed us to turn left (while pointing right) and tried to help us find a gas station open at 1:20 in the morning where he could pick up sodas, snacks, and cigarettes. His directions failed us only once, where we found ourselves right in front of a garage that said, "DETOX". Debating whether or not to drop Donovan off, we headed to the gas station and he did get his diet soda.

Eventually, Char and I were able to get to Donovan's apartment and drop him and Tyler off. Hugs were exchanged and Char & I were both able to feel the wetness of Donovan's lips on the sides of our faces. He and Tyler were home safe and it was time for us to head back to Patty McGovern's, to get Tom and head out for a bite to eat.

Donovan is a good guy and even if he is a Republican, he's still fun to be around. We are going to invite him to karaoke in the future and contact will be kept. And plans to have an afterwork get-together are in the making, we're not waiting for someone else to leave anymore.