Saturday, April 17, 2010

Goodbye, El Presidente

The best thing about Tin Can, String and Whistle Ltd is the beer club.

Actually, it's not actually called the beer club. It's real name is the Brok Piwo Club. Brok is a brand of Polish beer. Piwo is the Polish word for beer. A club is a club.

When I first started work at Tin Can, String and Whistle, I had  a desk stationed away from my team, which suited me as I didn't really fit in with the gang, who were quite insular and all hung out together and had all worked together before and being honest, though we worked okay together, we weren't each other's type of people. Putting it simply, I'm straight and Anglo, not gay or Greek - not that it matters, but I was in a bit of a minority.

So after a few weeks of floundering about, I began to make friends around me. My current manager, Popeye, and I became firm coffee buddies in those early days (he was having team issues at the start as well - we had to poke his boss with a stick every so often to see if he was still alive). I began hanging out with the Integration Engineers - which was cool as I found I soon had twenty five brother substitutes from all corners of the globe. And for entertainment value, I was stationed next to this rather strange fellow called Geoff.

Geoff is one of those blokes that you know is probably trouble, but it's the sort of trouble you want to get into. A reprobate in his mid forties, Geoff has lived all over the world. He speaks fluent German and a bit of French. You know he's never up to much good, ever, though he'll go out to fight for you. He's not particularly politically correct. He likes cats and fishing. He's great for a bad joke or twenty. Geoff introduced me to snapper fishing and Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby.

And best of all, Geoff ran the beer club - oops, sorry, Brok Piwo Club. Which after a few months of sitting near Geoff, everybody on the fifth floor was enlisted.

The rules of the Brok Piwo Club are simple. Five bucks for lifetime membership. This gets you a membership badge, a membership certificate and fifty cents off for each bottle of Piwo you buy at beer club for the rest of your natural life. Normal beer club prices are 500 mls of Brok for $3.50. The only beer sold at beer club is that which fits into the German beer rules, or the brewing law known as the Reinheitsgebot, or Purity Law. So if the beer has anything other than barley, hops, malt  and water in it, the club don't sell it. The standard beers at beer club are Brok and Okocim. Sometimes you might find a guest beer to two - Hoogaarden sometimes make an appearance (I can't drink that though, sends me silly) Once or twice we've had Coopers. But thems the rules. Life is too short to drink crap beer.

Beer Club occurs most Fridays, in the tea room overlooking the Albert Street Gardens and Parliament House between the hours of five and seven. The real rules are we don't bring in food, we don't get blathered or noisy, we clean up everything and we don't make a big deal about it. Members receive an email with a flyer each week detailing the club is on (there is now a beer club in the Sydney office too), they front up for a beer or two, then go home. Yes, it's probably breaking every OHS rule ever, but it is a tolerated part of Tin Can, String and Whistle - so much so that half the senior leadership team are members.

If you're lucky, you get a beer club nickname. Normally you get one for just being a bit different - so we have Cowboy, The Doctor, Captain Smiley and Teneille, The Deformed Bar, The Dutch Mafia, Helmut the Walking Toilet Brush, El Presidente - and I am H&K. Don't ask. It's a beer club thing. There are people in the building who think my name is H&K. I only know them from beer club.

The great thing about beer club is that it's company wide - it's the place where everybody mixes. It doesn't matter what team you're in, we all sit there on a Friday evening with a beer, putting things to rights. There is no exclusivity, no drama - it's the unofficial social club of the company - it's certainly more active than the social club. It's also the place that you meet people, then in the following week, see them in a meeting and you know that you have an inroad to some dilemma or other. You are fellow beer drinkers - beer drinkers help beer drinkers.

Oh, and there is the odd 200 ml bottle of wine for the non beer drinkers sold too. There is water and softies in the machine for those who don't want to drink.

Beer is the greatest leveller ever. Men won't tell you this - but it is. Beer can fix a lot. It makes things better. Maybe men have beer and women have chocolate.

Yesterday, after a few months of rumour,Geoff announced that he's leaving. Geoff has single-handedly kept the beer club running for the last few years.

Thing is, for the last few months, he has been grooming somebody to take over the club. Somebody who knows where the kitty is kept, somebody who knows the combination to the beer fridges that are hidden about the place. Somebody who knows where to get the beer from. Somebody who can sweet talk management. Somebody who can stay on Fridays and make sure things can be run properly. Somebody who is innocuous enough to skip under the radar, but known enough to be able to get a mob together. Somebody who is known as mad and responsible in equal measure.

I now have a beer club to run.

First duty of care - ensure the current President gets a good send off in a few weeks time.

I just hope I can make El Presidente proud. I have big shoes to fill.

Pand (H&K, Elle Presidenta Incumbent)

Kilometres walked since 29 January: 237 km
Kilometres run since 29 January: 157 km
Currently reading: The Remains of the Day bu Kazuo Ishiguro, Marathon Running for Mortals
Weight lost since 29 Jan: 1.7 kg
April Kms: 94/220


Kath Lockett said...

Awesome! It sounds like you've been handed the crown; be honoured!

I *love* the way you've described Beer Club and I don't even drink the stuff!

The Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Pandora,

Beer is brilliant. We don't have a beer club as such but we do occasionally go on a decent pub crawl where, as you suggest, we put the world to rights etc. etc. In fact, I have organised more than my fair share of these pub crawls.

Anyway, good luck in your new role.