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. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    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.

    Well, yes, but I think it’s important to not accuse ordinary folks of engaging in the open Alinskyite warfare.  These ladies didn’t barge in and start shouting at paying cutomers.  They paid their fare and enjoyed themselves a little too loud — which I have done myself.

    The lawsuit etc, that’s a different matter.  I don’t think these ladies had any malicious designs on anything other than the next bottle of gallon-o-red.

    • #31
  2. Freesmith Inactive
    Freesmith
    @Freesmith

    Why does anyone in this present day expect American blacks to, as they say, “act white?”

    To quote the oft-cited words of a well-known religious leader, “Who am I to judge?”

    • #32
  3. Freesmith Inactive
    Freesmith
    @Freesmith

    And to those who hasten, red-faced, to point out that these behavioral differences have nothing to do with race, but are instead a function of “culture,”

    Does “culture” descend from the sky onto a group of people who just happen to be born and raised in one or another, or does a culture arise organically from the talents, weaknesses, predelictions and foibles of a particular related group?

    Just wondering.

    • #33
  4. Roadrunner Inactive
    Roadrunner
    @Roadrunner

    Ball Diamond Ball:

    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.

    Well, yes, but I think it’s important to not accuse ordinary folks of engaging in the open Alinskyite warfare. These ladies didn’t barge in and start shouting at paying cutomers. They paid their fare and enjoyed themselves a little too loud — which I have done myself.

    The lawsuit etc, that’s a different matter. I don’t think these ladies had any malicious designs on anything other than the next bottle of gallon-o-red.

    I really don’t think they were being Alinskyite.  That is an adjective for the white progressives that encourage our poisonous culture for political gain.  It is more likely that some of the other passengers and business owners fit that profile.  Sure, we have all been rude.  What happens when you are confronted with your rudeness?  To get thrown off the train required excessive bad behavior.  In our culture I suspect that white women would have reached the threshold for being thrown off the train a lot earlier.  Race is used as an excuse for all kinds of bad behavior.  It is an antidote for personal responsibility which is seen as a disease to be avoided.  In its own way it is a kindness to thrown out of a place because you are behaving in a boorish fashion.  Middle aged women acting like 20 year old old boys is an indication of a very low state of affairs.  After all the twenty year olds wouldn’t try to turn a quaint train full of yuppies and old people into a party bus.

    • #34
  5. Eustace C. Scrubb Member
    Eustace C. Scrubb
    @EustaceCScrubb

    My friends and I were regularly kicked out of Denny’s back in the day. It’s only been a few decades. The pain of such moments was so hurtful.  The statute of limitaions couldn’t have run out yet, could it? Eleven million sounds like an amount I could retire on.

    • #35
  6. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll
    @DavidCarroll

    A table of cackling women, depending on their voice qualities, can get really loud and annoying to everyone else in a public place.  It is great when folks have a good time, but unless told, they will naturally be oblivious to the din they create.  I have also heard a similar din from one or more men, but it is rarer, because men typically have deeper voices.  It is not about race, it is about sex.

    Call me sexist.

    • #36
  7. Man With the Axe Inactive
    Man With the Axe
    @ManWiththeAxe

    This is a golden rule problem. These people, the women on the train (and some of the confessing commenters on this thread) and too many who could be characterized as behaving according to the tenets of “black culture” seem to care more about their own pleasures and wants and hardly at all about others, and would be the first to complain if someone were causing them the same grief.

    I’ll mention just one of the many, many examples of the ways these cultural norms violate the golden rule. A black professor at my university was engaged in a one-on-one debate with a white male student in front of a large audience. She kept interrupting him, and when he finally asked her to stop doing so, she remarked, “This is what we do in black culture.” But she would never allow herself to be interrupted.

    Too many black people, like the Black Lives Matter girls who took over Bernie Sanders’ rally and who protest at white brunches, act as if no one matters but them, and then they wonder why others are reluctant to hire them or otherwise associate with them. Meanwhile, those blacks who behave according to normal rules of societal behavior have at least as much success in all facets of life as anyone else.

    • #37
  8. Joseph Eagar Member
    Joseph Eagar
    @JosephEagar

    Man With the Axe:I’ll mention just one of the many, many examples of the ways these cultural norms violate the golden rule. A black professor at my university was engaged in a one-on-one debate with a white male student in front of a large audience. She kept interrupting him, and when he finally asked her to stop doing so, she remarked, “This is what we do in black culture.” But she would never allow herself to be interrupted.

    I have a lot of (as in, most of them) working class/poor white relatives.  That’s very much a problem in working-class white culture, too.  I hadn’t known blacks had the same problem.  I’ll add it to my list of “ways poor white and poor black people are like each other” (it’s a long list).

    • #38
  9. CuriousKevmo Member
    CuriousKevmo
    @CuriousKevmo

    Okay, so let’s suppose these ladies were treated unjustly.  How do they arrive at $11 million?  Wouldn’t something more akin to a free train ride or a reimbursement of the original ticket price be more in line?  $11 million?

    • #39
  10. lesserson Member
    lesserson
    @LesserSonofBarsham

    CuriousKevmo:Okay, so let’s suppose these ladies were treated unjustly. How do they arrive at $11 million? Wouldn’t something more akin to a free train ride or a reimbursement of the original ticket price be more in line? $11 million?

    It’s probably 1 million each because, you know, that’s reasonable…

    • #40
  11. Jeffrey Earl Warren Contributor
    Jeffrey Earl Warren
    @JeffreyEarlWarren

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad:

    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.

    This is the part everyone misses.  They “feel sorry” for the elderly woman.  Hell, to be tossed out of a bar, dinning room, restaurant, or train for being over served and loud at age 85 is a great compliment. Second only, I assume, to be accused of impregnating a beauty queen at that age–the man–not the beauty queen.

    • #41
  12. Jeffrey Earl Warren Contributor
    Jeffrey Earl Warren
    @JeffreyEarlWarren

    Joseph Eagar: I have a lot of (as in, most of them) working class/poor white relatives.  That’s very much a problem in working-class white culture, too.  I hadn’t known blacks had the same problem.  I’ll add it to my list of “ways poor white and poor black people are like each other” (it’s a long list).

    You have nailed it!  Of course it doesn’t have to do with skin color or “culture.”  It has to do with expected norms of behavior.  I’m not sure what is considered normal behavior on the Orient Express, or the Baghdad-Fallujah line, but were I to ride it and act in my  normal American loud-mouthed slap you on the back be friendly to everybody, the locals might find it deeply offensive.

    In Baghdad or Helsinki, I am the minority and might want to figure out what the proper norms are–so as not to offend anyone and to fit in.  Minorities are exactly that–not the majority.  And no matter how long I live in New York, Rome or Baghdad, I will always be a St. Helenan from California in that environment.  There is nothing wrong with that.  It is a part of my heritage.  It carries no weight in Rome to say to the other passengers on the train, this is how we act in the Napa Valley–its part of my “culture”–though it may be true.

    The Romans (in this instance) are the majority and it is proper for me to act in accordance with their rules.  Being loud and obnoxious (though clearly meaning no harm) is not a sin–but if one isn’t going to dial it back, they there (in a civilized society) ought to be consequences.  Would these ladies have liked a bunch of frat boys in their church to sing rugby songs?  I don’t think so.  Frat boys in a black church would be a minority, and ought to conduct themselves accordingly–as we all should when we find ourselves outside of our neighborhoods.

    • #42
  13. Joseph Eagar Member
    Joseph Eagar
    @JosephEagar

    Jeffrey Earl Warren:

    Joseph Eagar: I have a lot of (as in, most of them) working class/poor white relatives. That’s very much a problem in working-class white culture, too. I hadn’t known blacks had the same problem. I’ll add it to my list of “ways poor white and poor black people are like each other” (it’s a long list).

    I’m not sure what is considered normal behavior on the Orient Express, or the Baghdad-Fallujah line, but were I to ride it and act in my normal American loud-mouthed slap you on the back be friendly to everybody, the locals might find it deeply offensive.

    Heh, I remember the one summer I worked at an animation studio in Amsterdam, those of us who were American had to be told to not talk quite so much, and especially, not so loudly.  Not all stereotypes are undeserved.

    • #43
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