For the past three days I was in AmeriCorps training in Helena. Training itself was long but fascinating, and I feel like I met a million people. After the first day of training, four new VISTAs went to the local Brewers game (a minor league baseball team). Seats run for $6 usually, but it was “Government Tuesdays” where government employees get a discount, so we told the lady we work for the state… “sort of… and we have no way to prove it… but we really do!” So, cheap tickets for us!
The baseball game was eventful. There were two mascots. One was a tiger, and the other one was supposed to be… something?... but we all decided it was a giant house cat wearing red lipstick. The Brewers won the game – at one point scoring 9 runs in one inning, but more entertaining than the game were the on-field promotions. My favorite promotion included an elderly man named Bob, who crouched low and shuffled his feet with a giant fishing net, while the tiger and lipstick cat mascots threw large rubber fish at him. Bob was a runner and a diver, but didn’t win. The crowd loved him!
After the game we decided to go across the highway from the hotel to a bar. With the promise of alcohol (with permission, of course), our group of four became a group of twelve. The five scruffy local men at the bar seemed shocked at the group of girls in their mid-twenties who barged in, and didn’t even complain about the noise level. We decided to get our second drinks to go… did you know you can do that in Montana? I am not talking about a closed beer. I am talking vodka and grapefruit juice in a plastic cup with ice and two straws. The bartender had also poured the wrong wine and decided we deserved 16 oz. glasses of Riesling to go…. Trust me. Montana is CRAZY!
We all surged out of the bar, drinks in both hands, and began the trek back across the highway, saluting an officer driving by with the vodka hand. One woman was brave enough to get an entire bottle of wine to go - the bartender at the hotel was nice enough to pour it into a plastic pitcher so she could drink it in the hot tub.
The next day was a music festival in downtown Helena, so we all went after training to mingle with the locals. Shortly after arriving it began pouring rain. One Helena VISTA suggested a bar across the street, so we all began sprinting - with him leading the way. He didn’t mention what the bar was “across the street” from, so six blocks later forty of us poured into the bar soaking wet and out of breath. Lesson learned. Distance is not a concept in Montana. This time the (younger and more inebriated) locals were more excited to see us… maybe too excited as they leaned close to one girl and shouted a very inappropriate chant that had her near tears. Apparently it was her first time at a bar and she officially “doesn’t like bars.”
We had our final day of training and were all sworn in. I am officially a government employee now, so it will be legit to get discounts on Govt. Tuesdays! I am back in Bozeman now. I started work on Friday, and I will have more details soon!