Last night while I tended the bar at the OSOGD party suite at Pantheacon two party crashers came in from an electricians convention which is also happening in the same hotel – or so I gather. I duly carded them and noted their Ohio driver’s licenses. They held out their hands to get the Anubis hand stamps like everyone did. Come a long way, I thought, just to be here. It took a few moments to realize they didn’t know what they had walked into and that they weren’t just baby pagans first time at the convention.
The first hint something was off was when they were having a hard time deciding what they wanted to drink and I offered them shots they asked if we would do shots with them. They were trying to be friendly but there was a culture misfit here.
Behind their backs, my friends madly mimed holding up their badges and saying these guys don’t have ‘em.
So my fellow bartender (our volunteer shifts were 2 folks at a time) asked them what groups they were affiliated with and what brought them here. They tried to play it cool. After a time of this charade I said, I’m so sorry guys, but you don’t have your badges and this is a convention party so you gotta have them. One said, Oh we left it in the room. The other said, Oh don’t you know, we aren’t wearing them this year, it’s the new thing.
I apologized again and said they’d be welcome to come back once they got their badges. They didn’t come back. I heard later one of them kicked the elevator.
In retrospect, I wish I had been more generous with them. I got a good vibe from both these men. They had come a long way and saw a bunch of weirdos having fun, and decided to see what it was about. That shows a certain open-mindedness which I like and like to encourage.
Unfortunately they decided to play it cool and lie, and pretend to fit in as best they could. By asking them about their affiliation and asking them to come back with their badges, we played along with that farce. It let them leave while saving face. It was an OK way to handle it, and no one was hurt except I suppose the fellow who kicked the elevator a bit.
Thing is, if they had said, hey, we’re here for something else and we saw you folks having fun and heard there was free booze, I would have said, hey welcome to Pantheacon, here’s what we are, and what would you like to drink (it’s free)? The problem was never that I didn’t want to serve them. It was just that I wanted to make sure they didn’t get into a bad situation with somebody due to a severe cultural misunderstanding.
If I had the presence of mind to act on my generosity, I would have cut through their lies and let them know what they walked into. And I wish I had done that. I wish I had said, hey guys, you seem like you’re not here for Pantheacon. I bet you saw a bunch of weird people in costumes partying and wanted to see what’s up. Let me give you a brief explanation of what’s up and what the general rules of politeness around here are. That’s what I wish I had said.
And maybe they would have thought that’s all too much and left anyway. Maybe I they would have accepted a shot each and wandered off. Maybe they would have stuck around and ate some of the cheese. There really was plenty of drink and food and hospitality, but they didn’t know how to ask for them, and I didn’t know how to be generous the right way in that moment.