The Wine Train and Racism

 

UnknownIt’s a national story. Last month, a group of 11 women (10 of whom are black) were escorted off the Napa Valley Wine Train, allegedly for loud and obnoxious behavior that elicited complaints from other passengers. Today, they are suing the Wine Train for $11 million alleging discrimination.

The women were members of a book club who saw were simply having a good time. Been there; done that!

Apparently, on more than one occasion, Wine Train staff asked the women to tone it down but their response, as reported in the Napa Valley Register was, “we thought the purpose of the Wine Train was to have a good time and enjoy being with a large group.”

Club member Lisa Johnson continued: “No one told us of any noise ordinance. If you get a group of 11 women talking and laughing, it’s going to be loud. One passenger nearby said, ‘Well, this is not a bar.’ We reacted, ‘Yes, it is a bar, a bar on wheels.'”

Let’s stipulate that my guess is I’m more experienced than these women in being asked to leave the premises of various establishments due to excessive, obnoxious behavior. And I’m neither black, nor a woman.

During my misspent youth, I ran with a loud, obnoxious crowd. Fueled by alcohol, we partied hearty, and often drank too much and laughed too loud. We thought we were funny. Others didn’t. In the eyes of other patrons in the establishments we invaded, we were obnoxious boors — and they were right.

But like the women on the train, we meant no harm. We were simply oblivious to the discomfort we were causing others. When old friends get together, be they footballers, rugby players, Cal alumni, colleagues from work, or members of a cherished book club, when alcohol is involved and camaraderie de rigueur, the decibel level tends to rise.

And the offenders (like moi) are generally oblivious to their boorish behavior.

As a creative director in advertising in the 1970s (think “Mad Men” but with more sex, drugs, and drinking) we were asked to leave elegant restaurants and dive bars as well. I remember ex-“Tonight Show” gag writer Ed Heistand telling the maître d’ at the posh Bel Air Bar and Grill in Beverly Hills, “We’ve been thrown out of better joints than this.”

Shooting commercials in Los Angeles meant lots of early morning calls after late-night revelry. The late comedian Bob Ridgley would entertain us for hours with loud ad-libbed obscene songs, mocking the sugary musicals of the ’50s. Not something one would want to hear while sipping a bottle of Harlan Estate at the next table.

Standing up and singing the Cal drinking song in crowded restaurants was hardly a crowdpleaser — to others. For six years in a row, a group of us traveled to Super Bowls, and four times out of the six we were visited by police. Two officers, probably hotel security, left us alone after a former Green Bay linebacker answered the door and told them he would take their guns and put them where the sun don’t shine, before he slammed it in their face.

Was that me hiding in a “false ceiling” as police raided Johnny Walker’s bar during a noisy bachelor party in Dallas? Don’t tell the kids.

Our Croix de Guerre was when the Beverly Hills Hotel told us that Bungalow No. 9 had the dubious distinction of receiving more complaints than any room in the history of the hotel. (And to think, burning the dresser drawers in the fireplace seemed like such a good idea at the time.) Booze, even on the Wine Train, tends to cloud one’s perspective.

I might also add, that despite my dubious record, that when I am dining with family or friends and some bachelorette party or frat boy group is rowdy and out of order, I am the first one to either confront them or ask the maître d’ to do so.

The Wine Train is in the business of catering to paying customers, and they are trained not to offend. Remember, they throw at least a party a month off that “bar on wheels” and not many are black. Rudeness (however unintentional) was involved here — not racism. Ms. Johnson said it herself: “If you get a group of 11 women talking and laughing, it’s going to be loud.”

Who is racist is all the bloggers and commentators who accused the Wine Train of inappropriate behavior. These women are black, so they should not held to the same standards as others when out in public? How patronizing, how condescending, and how abjectly racist is that attitude? Are these commentators implying that because these woman are black, they don’t know any better? Now that’s racist!

As to the fact that one woman was 85 years old, my only comment is, “You go, girl.”

At 67, should the good Lord grant me an additional 18 years on this earth so I can match that gal, and I find myself being escorted out by a group of policemen for being drunk and rowdy, I promise I will go to confession the next day. When my priest asks why I’m telling him, I’ll respond (with the old joke), “Telling you? I’m telling everybody!”

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  1. Joseph Eagar Member
    Joseph Eagar
    @JosephEagar

    One has got to appreciate the sheer chutzpah of the black elite.   Brushing the rubble of disintegrated poor black communities off their fashionable attire, their most important concern in life is not getting kicked off of trains for making too much noise. These are the same people whose most pressing civil rights priority is making sure white people don’t lock their cars when they pass by.

    • #1
  2. wilber forge Inactive
    wilber forge
    @wilberforge

    Appears self centered  boorish behaviour and lack of respect for a given environment and others just might get you a paycheck. Be sure to spice it up with the race card. Or rather let’s call it the new “Gold Card “.

    • #2
  3. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    There are unquestionable cultural differences between the acceptable behaviors among whites and blacks. In the years I taught in public schools in Seattle I found that black parents and relatives, attending “graduation” ceremonies for their kids who were moving from middle to high school, tended to be a lot louder and less orderly than whites in the same circumstances. The words “obnoxious” and “rude” were not infrequently used to describe the behavior of adults attending these events.

    It is not difficult to project from my more than 40 years of teaching exactly what it must have been like for the other people onboard that train. There are social standards with which most of us have been raised which include behavior in public areas. The question is, is it incumbent on the rest of us to contend with loud, obnoxious behavior in public venues just because such behavior is acceptable in the black community? My personal feeling is no.

    Even after so many years in the schools, I am still offended by men wearing hats inside a building, something I was taught not to do at a very early age. The use of loud profane language is something that I heard a lot of among blacks in large groups. Must we surrender all of our standards to the goals of “cultural diversity?”

    • #3
  4. LilyBart Inactive
    LilyBart
    @LilyBart

    Anyone with a group of friends can find themselves getting too loud.  But how do you handle yourself when you’re made aware of the discomfort you’re causing others?

    This behavior is not in the nature of any one race or other – it signals a poor upbringing.    And a lack of consideration for others.

    • #4
  5. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    LilyBart, what you say may well be true. It certainly isn’t a genetic fault. It is cultural, and it is very much a part of black culture to act in that way.

    • #5
  6. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    It looks like something out of Murder on the Orient Express.  So very genteel, and probably not attuned to Party Time.

    http://winetrain.com/

    • #6
  7. Joseph Eagar Member
    Joseph Eagar
    @JosephEagar

    Eugene Kriegsmann:There are unquestionable cultural differences between the acceptable behaviors among whites and blacks. In the years I taught in public schools in Seattle I found that black parents and relatives, attending “graduation” ceremonies for their kids who were moving from middle to high school, tended to be a lot louder and less orderly than whites in the same circumstances. The words “obnoxious” and “rude” were not infrequently used to describe the behavior of adults attending these events.

    That’s kindof a class thing.  I’ve noticed a similar dynamic with some of my poorer white Scotts-Irish relatives.

    • #7
  8. Pencilvania Inactive
    Pencilvania
    @Pencilvania

    Will they win their suit, do you think?

    If the train company had not escorted them off, perhaps the other patrons would have sued, because they paid good money too for a nice experience, which was ruined.

    Seems to me the only way to accommodate everyone is to have train cars that are separate but equ–

    oops.

    • #8
  9. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    The Whine Train.

    • #9
  10. Solon JF Inactive
    Solon JF
    @Solon

    And it looks like the Wine Train apologized.

    (T)he Napa Valley Wine Train’s chief executive officer issued a full-throated apology for the company’s treatment of the members of Johnson’s Sistahs on the Reading Edge book club, saying the Wine Train was “100 percent wrong in its handling of this issue.”

    In a culture such as this, one can understand the popularity of a man like Donald Trump.

    • #10
  11. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll
    @DavidCarroll

    Kreigsmann:

    offended by men wearing hats inside a building, something I was taught not to do at a very early age. The use of loud profane language is something that I heard a lot of among blacks in large groups. Must we surrender all of our standards to the goals of “cultural diversity?”

    There never was a standard rule about not wearing hats inside. It was far more complex. Hats are ok in most public buildings, but not restaurants or courthouses. Hats in elevators is a matter of some dispute. It probably depends on the building. Hats off in private homes, and tip them to the ladies. Same rule for caps historically. Lately, the rule has changed. In restaurants, hat are now ok (with some) it it is part of the person’s “style.” Probably an excuse for cap wearers.


    • #11
  12. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    This reminds me of the time I attended a Broadway musical Dream Girls. I was born outside Motown and genuinely admired Jennifer Hudson and her predecessor in the role Jennifer Holliday singing “And I’m Telling You.”

    Tickets in third row center were not inexpensive yet somehow I was surrounded by screaming women who stood up during the entire performance and genuinely ruined the show for me. One of the members of my entourage happened to be a black man and I quote his warning “Don’t think about messing with these sisters. You’ll come out second best.” He was even intimidated.

    Pencilvania:Will they win their suit, do you think?

    If the train company had not escorted them off, perhaps the other patrons would have sued, because they paid good money too for a nice experience, which was ruined.

    • #12
  13. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    Carroll, I think, perhaps, we are of a different generation. I grew up in the 50s and 60s in New york City when there still some strong semblances of what was considered to be the behavior of civilized people. Men did not wear hats inside of a building or an elevator ever. Those who did were immediately thought of a boorish, uncouth. Style does not excuse a lack of manners, most of which are due to simply laziness or a upbringing that was not “blessed” with proper social training. I found throughout my life that I could move with an amazing amount of ease through a host of environments including a fox hunting club on Long Island, a mob hang-out in Miami, the boardroom of Merrill Lynch, and the homes of black families whose children I taught. In none of those environments were my manners an impediment. I would suggest that in at least a few of the places I frequented through my life that the man wearing a hat would be asked to remove it or leave, that people using profanity or speaking at a volume that caused others in the room to be uncomfortable would also be asked to leave. Good manners were never, in my experience of seven decades, a problem. Quite the opposite can said for the alternative.

    BTW the “i” comes before the “e”. The name is German and derives from the German for war, krieg.

    • #13
  14. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    Solon JF:And it looks like the Wine Train apologized.

    In a culture such as this, one can understand the popularity of a man like Donald Trump.

    Really unbelievable.  Everyone apologizes for everything.  My only hope is that apologies are not accompanied by anything else, and they become so frequent and knee-jerk that we all see them for what they are; utterly meaningless.  Then I’ll go around apologizing to anyone who wants it.

    • #14
  15. John Penfold Member
    John Penfold
    @IWalton

    This isn’t racism.  The cultural differences are extreme.   Upper class Latin Americans feel the same about loud crass  middle class Americans and both are right, but then I’m really uptight.

    • #15
  16. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    I might add that in many other cultures which I have visited around the world that adherence to etiquette has not diminished. In the village of the man I use as my avatar, Woma above the Pech canyon in the Korengal of Afghanistan, the personal manners of individual was extremely important. Being sensitive to peoples’ cultures and displaying that sensitivity through attempting to adhere to their etiquette is never seen as wrong. In those situations I did not abandon what I had grown up with, I merely took on the additional restrictions of that culture, be it eating only with my right hand or whatever their culture expected. I was taught as child that good manners was simply a way of honoring those with whom you were by being sensitive to them and their culture.

    • #16
  17. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    Eugene Kriegsmann:

     I was taught as child that good manners was simply a way of honoring those with whom you were by being sensitive to them and their culture.

    Agree up to a certain point. Won’t cover my head under any circumstances, but do adapt to the ‘fork etiquette’ in England and would never consider walking into a restaurant in most of Western Europe w/out a reservation.

    • #17
  18. Guruforhire Inactive
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    My overwhelming charm and magnetism caused one drunken young lady to lose herself in poo brown eyes. As a gentleman I could not deny the young lady what she wanted and half a dozen double Jager shots later we were tossed out quite unceremoniously.

    Who hasn’t been tossed out of a bar?

    • #18
  19. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll
    @DavidCarroll

    Eugene Kriegsmann:Carroll, I think, perhaps, we are of a different generation. I grew up in the 50s and 60s in New york City when there still some strong semblances of what was considered to be the behavior of civilized people. Men did not wear hats inside of a building or an elevator ever. Those who did were immediately thought of a boorish, uncouth.

    Different generation, I don’t think so.  And I am a constant wearer of hats.  It is not true that etiquette always required hats to be removed indoors, no matter where.  From Emily Post:

    A: Basically, hat, or when going to a restaurant (a sign of respect toward the other diners at the restaurant). When entering a store or other public area like a train station, the hat or cap may remain on. This applies to baseball caps worn by men or by women. Hats and caps are always removed for the Pledge of Allegiance or the National Anthem. Therefore, caps and hats should be removed when entering a home (which includes while eating at the table), when entering a place of religion

    With hats entirely out of style, expect the rules to change.  I might gratuitously add that since you were in New York, folks there may be a bit strange.

    • #19
  20. Kay of MT Inactive
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    If I had been on that train, I would have asked them to quiet down because I suffer from hyperacusis, If they refused to quiet down, I would have insisted on being moved to a different coach. If the staff had refused me, I would have perhaps contacted management. But I would have lost my temper from pain long before. I might have had a good case if they hadn’t been put out to claim discrimination myself. You know, one white old lady vs 10 black young ladies.

    • #20
  21. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Eugene Kriegsmann:
    “Eugene Kriegsmann
    LilyBart, what you say may well be true. It certainly isn’t a genetic fault. It is cultural, and it is very much a part of black culture to act in that way.”

    Well, yes and no. Black cultures are also split across a line that one side called “decent folk” and the other calls acting white, Uncle Tom, oreo, and so forth. The thug view is prevailing with help from enablers all the way from Farrakhan to Obama. No matter what happened to Cosby, Cliff Huxtable was marked for death.

    • #21
  22. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    If acting like a jerk in public is so wonderful that being deprived of that opportunity for one day is worth $11 million, then I’ve been prioritizing everything wrong my entire life.

    • #22
  23. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Jeffrey Earl Warren: At 67, should the good Lord grant me an additional 18 years on this earth so I can match that gal, and I find myself being escorted out by a group of policemen for being drunk and rowdy, I promise I will go to confession the next day. When my priest asks why I’m telling him, I’ll respond (with the old joke), “Telling you? I’m telling everybody!”

    That is a great joke. Love it. Thanks.

    • #23
  24. lesserson Member
    lesserson
    @LesserSonofBarsham

    It seems to me that any case brought before a court in which some “unfair treatment” is being claimed, but the conduct in question was indistinguishable from a herd of white drunken frat boys, it should be tossed out within the first 15 minutes and the plaintiffs fined for wasting the court’s time.

    • #24
  25. Shelley Nolan Inactive
    Shelley Nolan
    @ShelleyNolan

    This is so sad. How can I put it, next stop “Gravy Train”.

    • #25
  26. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    All aboard the Whine Train!  Next stop: Victim Station!

    • #26
  27. lesserson Member
    lesserson
    @LesserSonofBarsham

    So, can we call the types of lawyers that take these cases “waaambulance chasers”?

    • #27
  28. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    Ball Diamond Ball,

    Where the line splits those who “act white” from the rest is not in the middle. I agree with you that the “thug” culture is becoming very prevalent in the black community, or at least it was three years ago when I retired. You saw it even among the white kids who went to the same school. George Carlin commented on the infectious nature of black argot years ago. I saw it happen in the trend of pacifiers in the mouths of young adult males and sagging, multi-layered pants worn originally by black prisoners, then black youths on the street, and, ultimately by white adolescents.

    Certainly, the breakdown in societal norms is not limited to black people. It is happening to whites as well. However, the difference in this particular incident has to do with people who are integrating themselves into a venue which has traditionally been middle class white. The gauche whites who emulate “black” behavior tend to avoid such venues finding them not to their taste. These women, “Sistahs” , not only announce their refusal to adhere to the dominant culture by their behavior, but telegraph it in advance by their unwillingness to even use standards of grammar and spelling. I suspect to some extent that their behavior was fully intentional.

    • #28
  29. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    EK, I’m not arguing so much as carving out a little space.

    • #29
  30. Roadrunner Inactive
    Roadrunner
    @Roadrunner

    I think white people should get used to this.  This is the “afflict the comfortable” part and it is bound to get worse.  Our racial politics are poisonous and has lead to a permanent sense of grievance.

    • #30
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