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Archive for the ‘Alcohol’ Category

Are you unemployed and want something inspiring to do for the next seven days?  Well, I have a solution for you!  Become a Kindness Investor and give $10 away every day to a new stranger for a week and then share your experiences here on the Year of Giving. I need someone to start tomorrow!!! So please email me today if you or someone you know are up for this amazing experience.

1417 22nd Street Northwest Washington D.C., DC 20037 - (202) 835-2665

On Day 353 I went over to Books for America, a great nonprofit bookstore that I have frequented for several years.  As I was purchasing the book I decided to give my money $10 to someone working there.  Two of the clerks that I mentioned it to both pointed toward a guy slouched down behind a computer off to the side of the register.  “He could certainly use the cash,” one of the clerks said pointing toward Adam who had by now stood up and made his way over to the counter.

I gave him the $10 and he thanked me and said, “I can definitely use it.”  I asked if I could jot down a couple of notes and he invited me outside to talk to him while he smoked a cigarette.

Adam grew up in Maine and attended St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD.  “I studied Liberal Arts – what do you do with that?” he rhetorically asked.  Well, he ended up working at Books for America and told me, “This is the best job ever.”  Adam picks up donations of books around the city and brings them to the store where they are resold at lower than market prices.

“I one time went to pick up some books from this lady’s house and when I got there she was so upset about parting with her books that in the end I recommend that she hold on to them and think about,” Adam told me.  “I mean, books can mean a lot to people and I want the person to be comfortable with the donation, otherwise it’s not good for them or us.”  I don’t recall if the woman ever called back for Adam to get the books or not.

Adam, who is very thankful to be employed now told me, “The thing that really sucks about being unemployed is having to tell your friends and people from high school that you are ‘in between jobs’ when they ask what you are doing.”  This never really bothered me when I was out of work, but I know a lot of people have shared this same comment with me.

Adam shared an amazing personal story of giving with me.  When he was in high school he and some buddies decided to buy some strangers breakfast.  Their simple altruistic act of kindness lived on for years without them knowing it; until recently when he happened to be visiting one of the same friends that was with him that morning and they received a very unexpected phone call.  Check out the entire story…

My favorite part of his story is, “Her gratitude was so much greater than our generosity in the moment.”  That is beautiful.  It just goes to show you that sometimes the little things you do mean a lot more to others around you.

By the way, the 28-year-old’s ten dollars are going to be handed to a bartender at the Big Hunt in exchange for a few “Bad Ass Amber beers.”

Adam and his ten dollars

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Day 328 – Elizabeth F.

Are you still stuffed?  Did you eat too much turkey and stuffing yesterday?  Well prop yourself up on your sofa and check out what happened with my $10 on Day 326.  I will keep it short to help you ward away the sleep inducing effects of all the tryptophan that is now in your body.

Elizabeth followed up via email, "You ended up being a great end to a day that didn't start off so well. Thank you."

Hockey season is once again upon us and I have gotten to go to a few games.  My brother Ryan has season tickets to the Capitals and is very generous in inviting me to go with him.  It was a Sunday and we met up at my apartment in Dupont.  We hopped on the 42 bus and headed down toward the arena.  I thought I would try to find someone on the bus that would accept my $10 and found Elizabeth sitting in front of us.

A Bilingual Benefits Coordinator at a local health clinic, Elizabeth was on her way to see The Girl who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, the third in the Millennium Series by Stieg Larsson.  I haven’t read any of the books or seen any of the movies.  In fact I didn’t even know that this one was part of the whole Girl with the Dragon Tattoo thing.  

Anyway I gave her the $10 and got my notebook out to ask her some questions.  “I’m not very interesting,” she told me.  I hear that a lot, but just like with Elizabeth I usually uncover plenty of interesting sides of their lives. 

It turns out Elizabeth’s “uninteresting” life includes a two-year stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in southern Ecuador.  That sounds like a pretty amazing experience.  My sister-in-law was a Peace Corps volunteer in Kiribati, an island nation located along the equator in the Pacific Ocean.  I’ve heard mixed reviews about the Peace Corps program however almost everyone raves about the people they meet and overall life experience gained.  

photo: Reed

The bus groaned a little as we motored down Connecticut Avenue.  We had an easy conversation during the 25 blocks it took to get to our stop.  Elizabeth had a lot of questions for me too.  She said she was going to put the money in her wallet and see what happened to it.  I later found out in an email from her that she was going to use it to go to get some drinks at the Bottom Line on Friday when they feature $1 Miller Lites from 4-7pm.  That’s pretty cheap…especially for DC!  But it must have been burning a hole in her pocket because it only made it to Tuesday where it went toward happy hour.

As for the hockey game, the Caps edged out the Flyers in overtime.  The Capitals have a pretty awesome record when I am in attendance!

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Victory Brewery, Downingtown, PA

Some high school friends of mine decided to get together in metropolis of Spring City, Pennsylvania.  I carpooled up with my friend Kimon, who lives close by in DC.  It’s about a three-hour drive but we hit some traffic getting out of DC and made slight detour to visit Victory Brewing in Downingtown, PA.  All in all it took us about five hours.

This place was packed.  The parking lot was completely full.  We left my car in a questionably legal parking spot and went in just to say we were there, have one beer, and pick up some beer to take to Maureen and Josh, our hosts for the weekend.  When we got inside, you could barely walk.  I was sure that there was some special event going on, but we were later told that it was just “another Friday night.”

I first approached a woman named Kathy.  She was a little bit interested, much more so than her husband who showed up a shortly thereafter.  The couple was waiting on a table and it conveniently became available giving them a polite excuse to exit the situation.

I scanned the area while sipping on my malty Storm King Stout.

Kathy and Jim (photo: Reed)

Nearby I found another woman named Kathy and her husband Jim.  I noticed that Kathy was drinking wine. What?!  Wine in a great brewery.  “I’m allergic to wheat,” she told me.  Not Jim…nope.  He was happily enjoying some of their cold refreshing brews. 

Kathy tells me that her real name was Myra, but as a young girl she attended Catholic School and all the nuns thought she was Jewish…so she went by Kathy.  Jim I think was really named Jim…or James…at least no confessions were made to the contrary. 

Speaking of Jim, I learned that he has a bit of daredevil inside him.  While in the Poconos he went bungee jumping.  “This sketchy guy tethered me to this rope,” Jim explained adding that he wouldn’t do it again.

It turns out this couple was having a little time out before they picked their daughter up from her high school where she was decorating for Homecoming which was the following evening.  And Jim is going to drive one of the cars in the parade too!  “It’s a red BMW 328 convertible.”  Grinning he added, “Everyone should own a convertible once in their life.”

The $10 went toward a glass of wine and tip for the bartender. (photo: Reed)

It was right about then that I got to see my $10 passed along.  Kathy made her way up to the crowded bar and ordered another glass of wine.  Seven for the wine and three for a tip.

Later I received an email from Kathy with an update…here is an excerpt.

“It was fun talking to you and even more fun connecting to your web site and reading all the stories of the people we are ‘one degree of separation’ from. I loved your 10-10-10 story!  We should have told you about our 8-8-08 night at the Triple 8 vodka distillery in Nantucket!  Anyway – I wanted to tell you that even though $7 of the money you gave us went to the alcohol – $3 of it went to the bartender..not sure if that is ‘donation’ or not but either way good luck in your final leg of your interviews and GOD BLESS YOUR MAMA!”

And as for homecoming…

Jim driving his son and fellow homecoming court nominee. (photo: Reed)

“Everyone had a blast. I think Jim enjoyed the parade more than my son Kevin. It was a beautiful fall day. The home team won.  Life is good.  Keep up the good work – you are on the home stretch!

-Kathy”

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"There's a lot of practice that goes into it. There's a lot of prep work." - Kyle (photo: Reed)

Do you think that you are funny?  A lot of us do.  But what would you do if you had to go up on stage and actually make people laugh for a few minutes?  Would you do it?  Could you do it?  Do you really think you could make a group of 50 people laugh hysterically?  Well Kyle found out the answer to that question.

After a dinner with coworkers at the iconic Tabard Inn in DC, we shuffled next door to the Topaz Hotel where on Thursday nights they have open mic comedy.

The place was full and the only seats were in the very front.  You know what that means!  Yep.  I was seated with a coworker from California and the comedian starts with the, “So, are you guys on a date?” type questions to me.  After dodging any severely awkward moments, he found a new person to pick on. 

Near the end of the show the host welcomed back a young guy who had performed his first stand up routine last week…and was brave enough to come back for more!  That was Kyle.  After the show I saw him and figured I would ask him to accept my $10, I mean after all anyone who has that type of courage to get up in front of a crowd and try to make them laugh deserves a few bucks. 

Originally from New Hampshire, Kyle is in DC for an internship.  He’s a journalism major working for a talk radio station here in Washington.  With graduation next month, he has mixed feelings about going back home.  It seemed like he really liked the possibility of staying in DC.

“I’m going to take your $10 to Lucky’s…they have $3 well drinks.  This will buy three drinks and still have a dollar left for a tip!” he told me.

I put him on the spot and asked him to do some of his comedy material.  This is not easy to do at the drop of a hat, but he was a good sport and obliged.  Kyle took a second and pulled out a folded up piece of paper that he had notes written on.  Even if he had been ready, it is a lot easier when you have an audience and can feed off of the crowd’s laughter.  Here goes…

Comedy at the Topaz Hotel (1733 N Street NW) happens every Thursday night at 8pm. No cover.

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Hey, so yesterday I totally screwed up on my twitter account.  I thought I was sending a private message and apparently I broadcasted my mobile number!  Ooops.  Thankfully LilaScot noticed it and sent me a message to let me know.  Thanks!  I got it taken care of now.

One of my favorite pubs, Ireland's Four Courts in Arlington, VA. (photo: Reed)

So today you are going to meet five amazing, intelligent, beautiful people.  With a description like that they could only be one thing…that’s right Steeler fans!

Dave, Julie, Cathy, Scott and Brandon were all watching the Steelers game at one of my favorite pubs: Ireland’s Four Courts in Arlington.  All of them but Brandon were clad in their Steeler jerseys and shirts.  If any of you are wondering what to get Brandon for the holidays, I’m guessing that a Steelers jersey would be much appreciated!

Some of them live here in the DC area, others live in Pittsburgh and Cathy came all the way from Panama City. 

From L-R, Cathy, Scott, Brandon, Dave and Julie. (photo: Reed)

I tried to figure out how everyone knew each other.  So Dave and Scott went to middle school together at Eden Christian Academy.  Julie and Scott are dating and I think Cathy and Dave are too….they actually met playing World of Warcraft online.  Hey, maybe Ashanti will meet someone there too….he used to be a big fan of the online game. 

I commented on Brandon’s hat and learned that he actually bought it in Germany.  “So I was there for Oktoberfest with Julie and Scott,” Brandon told me.  “I have a big head and it’s not easy to find a hat that fits…so when I found this one I got it!” 

All five of my new Steeler friends agreed to put their $2 share of the $10 toward their bar tab. 

I offered to put something on the Lend a Hand section for any of them and got some interesting requests.  Cathy would like to meet the Steelers’ all-pro safety Troy Polamalu.  In fact she said that she bought Head & Shoulders 2 in 1 shampoo just because his commercials for it!  Advertising works.

Brandon would like some help finding a job as a research analyst in the criminal justice field.  The 25-year-old lives in Northern Virginia and has a degree in public policy specializing in criminal justice. 

My new football friends hanging out at the Four Courts. (photo: Reed)

Dave joined in and said he would like some Steeler tickets!  And if you donate some tickets to Dave, add an extra ticket for me!!!  I’ve never been to a game in Pittsburgh.

Well the Steelers went on to trounce the Browns 28-10.  Hey, catch the Steelers this Monday night take on the Bengals!  I’m thinking about going to the Pour House to watch the game if you are in the DC area and want to join.  Who knows, you might even get ten bucks!

UPDATE: 11/20/2010

I just got an email from Cathy…I was right, they are dating, in fact they are engaged.  And guess what, she told me that Julie and Scott have just got engaged as well!  Congrats guys!

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Rain drops on the metallic chairs on Love Cafe's patio. (photo: Reed)

I don’t know why I carried my umbrella over to U Street with me; I didn’t use it to ward off the drizzle that fell as I dodged puddles along the uneven sidewalk.  I ducked in to Cake Love’s Café on the corner of 15th and U Streets.  I think its actual name is Love Café…according to the young Latina behind the counter it opened seven years ago…a year after the original bakery opened in 2002.  It’s a cozy little place with a spectacular corner view perfect for people watching.

Gerald with the original Cake Love in the background. (photo: Reed)

I met Gerald there. When he came in he said, “That’s where I usually sit…it’s got a great view.”  Gerald tells me that he lives across the street which turns out to be the same building that Almena from Day 21 lived in.

This is one of those encounters that I don’t even know where to begin.  We spoke for hours.  Gerald is a character too.  Some of the stories sound too sensational to be true but he swears by them; from being born in Freedmen Hospital (forerunner to Howard University Hospital) in 1943 to looting liquor stores during the riots of 1968 to inheriting a million dollars from his step-father. 

Gerald grew up living on Columbia Road around 12th Street.  “There was only one white person on my entire block back then,” he said. 

7th Street post MLK Assassination riots in DC in 1968.

During the riots Gerald said he was working at the Post Office.  On the day the riots started he was taking a test at the Watergate building.  He got home and painted “Black Power” on the side of his 1961 Dodge Polaris and headed out into the city.  “I didn’t have any prior riot experience, so I didn’t exactly know what to do,” he said.  He decided to go over to the People’s Drug Store and crossed the line of National Guard soldiers and stepped through the broken glass of the front door.  The store had already been heavily looted but he remembers thinking about taking a watch he saw inside, but didn’t. 

Gerald displays his $10 purchase. (photo: Reed)

Armed with a .357 Magnum he went down to Central Liquors at 9th and F Streets and then headed over to another liquor store on U Street.  All in all he says he took more than 22 ½ gallon bottles of top shelf liquor.  “I had two years worth of liquor!” 

Years later he got a job with IBM.  Now to appreciate this you got to understand that he was making about $6,100 a year at the post office and then was offered a $15,000 salary plus bonus at IBM.  The next couple years he made a lot of money and bought lots of material goods…namely cars. 

At some point the good times ended.  He divorced.  He lost his job.  He lost several houses that he owned and said he was even homeless at one point.  Now he lives in a very modest low-income housing complex.

I wish there was some way to bottle the loquacious couple of hours we spoke and serve it up here, but you just had to be there.  Before I left I asked him one last time if he knew what he would do with the $10.  He decided to go next door to the picturesque Best DC Supermarket and purchase a bottle of Dogfish Head Brewery’s Miles Davis Bitches Brew.  I walked over with him and even spotted him an extra buck to pay for it.

We exchanged numbers and he walked back to his apartment and I went the opposite way toward my place.

So something funny is that he put my number in his phone but never added my name.  Over the next week he called me about six times thinking I was somebody else or maybe he was just hoping that I would be giving another $10 away!

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Last night I stayed up to watch the first few miners get rescued from the Chilean mine where they have been trapped 629 meters below ground for almost 70 days!

That is such a long time!  I try to keep that in mind when I remember that there are only about 70 days, less actually, to go until the end of my year-long journey.  Time has gone by so fast!  I am still interviewing potential venue locations for the year-end celebration.  It is exciting…there are so many creative possibilities for the culmination of this amazing year.  I will keep you posted!

Team Rockstar Lifestyle trying to get out of a tough inning. That's Johnny from WAKA in the bottom left hand corner of the photo. (photo: Reed)

It was beautiful the other night and I decided to go for a long walk and find someone to give my $10 to.  I came across a sports field called Marie Reed Park.  Good name!  There were people gathering and I knew something was going to happen.  It seemed that I was the only one not wearing a uniform of some sort.  I grabbed a little real estate on the bleachers and waited to see what unfolded.

It turns out I was at a kickball game.  I was literally the only one who was not playing…except for two guys with some red jerseys who were talking with a woman in a white blouse.  More about those guys later.

"Your not going to believe this, but I was just thinking about you two days ago!" Eric told me when I introduced myself. (photo: Reed)

I finally got the courage to go over to a guy who was sitting an inning out.  I didn’t want to bother someone while they were trying to win a game, but I forced myself to go meet someone.  His name was Eric.  As soon as I explained what I was doing he told me that he had heard about the Year of Giving!  “You’re not going to believe this but I was just thinking about you two days ago!” he told me.   That’s pretty cool….the word is spreading thanks to all of you!

This is Eric’s second season playing kickball in Washington’s chapter of the World Adult Kickball League (WAKA).  In fact, he plays on two teams.  The night I met him he was playing for a team called the Rockstar Lifestyle who was playing against the Ball Busters.  The cool thing about kickball is that just about everyone can play.  Having said that, it was clear that many of the players meant business.

Eric used his $10 to buy a pitcher of beer for him and his team to celebrate their victory. (photo: Reed)

Eric tells me that although he likes kickball, his true passion is in running marathons.  The 28-year-old has run nine marathons already!  He’s preparing for his next one right now which will be the New York City Marathon in just 25 days.  He says that he has seen some crazy things while running.  “One time I was running a marathon with my sister in LA and we saw people selling drugs along the side of the road.”

Eric took care of things in left field to help his team win. (photo: Reed)

The game was close and the coach tapped Eric to hit the field.  Before heading out to left field, Eric told me that if I wanted to know more about the entire WAKA league that one of the founders of the organization was standing to my right wearing a red jersey.  While Eric tried to help the Rockstars edge out the Ballbusters I went over to introduce myself to Johnny LeHane.  He helped found the kickball league back in 1998 in hopes to create a social activity that everyone could participate in.  “We wanted something that would have an almost fraternity feel,” Johnny told me.  I actually think I met Johnny back in 1998 at Kelly’s Irish Times, an Irish pub that was the first sponsor of WAKA.  I say that because Johnny worked at AOL and so did my brother and a bunch of friends back then and I recall that I went to a kickball happy hour in 1998 or 1999.  I keep forgetting to ask my brother who he knew from WAKA back then, maybe he remembers.  Anyway, in case you are shrugging your shoulders at the idea of organized kickball, be advised that they currently over 3,000 teams in over 300 leagues nation wide and employ a staff of 30.  It was cool to meet Johnny, who was in town from NYC where he lives and continues to work as part of the management team for WAKA.

Rockstar Lifestyle won 5-4! (photo: Reed)

Eric trotted back in to join his team as they had one last opportunity to win the game.  It was close, but he and his team managed to pull out a 5-4 win over the Ball Busters!  I was great to watch him and his team celebrate the victory.  He said they were going to a bar called Town where he would buy a pitcher of beer for the team with the $10.  Cheers!

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