Part of a series on my participation in the Putnam County Leadership Academy.
The PCLA 2020 group did not have a class this week. Instead, we participated in an etiquette dinner hosted by Bridges Craft Pizza & Wine Bar in downtown Greencastle.
Oh Lord, what could go wrong with our "rowdy" bunch? Nothing; and that's the thing.
This experience was more people-oriented than topical. I think this is meant to reflect how close we've all become as acquaintances and professionals in such a short time. It's pretty crazy that we have only two classes left before we graduate on Dec. 6. We have learned a lot about each other, both as individuals and as community members.
The "etiquette" part began a week ago when we were urged to RSVP with our choice of either a steak or fish dinner. It was then a wait of anticipation for me. I enjoy going to these kinds of events, and there is a satisfaction I find from getting dressed up for one.
I arrived at Bridges a little before our "happy hour" began at 5:30 p.m., obviously the more casually dressed sans a sport coat. The point, though, was to dress respectfully. A nice shirt, khakis, my slip-on leather shoes and "pandemic tie," and I was good to go.
I am somewhat ashamed that this was the first time I've ever sat at their bar. I will say, though, that the two Manhattans I would drink through the dinner did not disappoint.
The happy hour phase was akin to the "detentions" we've had after classes. In their essence, they have been opportunities to have a drink and connect with one another. In the end, this dinner -- while focusing on the do's and don'ts -- went the same way.
Some of those do's and don'ts include things like dabbing your mouth instead of rubbing it, folding your napkin in your lap and cutting your steak with your right hand (which I will never get totally used to). These are still points of courtesy; and they are all practical in this scenario just as much as they are going out to a Waffle House.
The one thing that went over my head, though, was the wine portion. This bourbon drinker couldn't get over the earthiness and tannins. I just wanted another Manhattan.
The three courses we had -- especially my ribeye -- were delicious. However, I don't think our meal would have been as fun as it was without the people. Good company will always beget great interaction. That's what I had with Jake Widner talking about bourbon, or with Jared Grable making hilarious remarks and being our class clown.
More than anything, the night was filled with a lot of laughter. I think this embodies what those who will come into this program after us may find. You have to be open to opening up. I want to emphasize again that this is connecting with people around you.
Though the dinner was officially over, we made our way back to the bar. I was made fun of for wondering what kind of "digestif" (i.e. after-dinner drink) I wanted, and we continued to laugh. More importantly, we made sure we were okay with getting home.
Honestly, Wednesday evening brought home to me more what I think I (and others) continue to overlook in my hometown -- or at least not look close enough at. These are opportunities, and they don't have to only be about business or "schmoozing" the boss. This is what you do with friends and co-workers alike; it's #Small-Town PR in a way.
If we love your community, we need to maintain these forums, and try to reach out to others. We can then break down our assumptions and empower others' potentials.
This dinner was about more than just etiquette. There is a reason why Lynn says we're a fun group to be around. We're passionate about why we are all here to begin with.