For those that don’t know what CHIditarod is, go back and read the editorial. I can’t be slowed down with explanations.
I have to focus all my energy on remembering the crazy characters I encountered.
The day started with breakfast at the start line. My wife had volunteer fever and signed us up to help. The lot was full of colorful people with charity…err, I mean beer, on their minds.
I put some flags on poles and moved a table. With too many cooks in the kitchen, that was the extent of my volunteer efforts for the breakfast portion of the day.
When an organization has too many volunteers, I think that means they’re doing something right.
After drinking a quick morning beer and saying hello to some familiar faces, we moved onto our checkpoint at Cobra Lounge and promptly started consuming more alcohol.
I talked to my checkpoint lead about my job; I was a cart wrangler. This meant I would stand in the parking lot, direct traffic, and make sure 4 of the 5 team members were present before giving them the green light to go inside.
My fellow cart wrangler was ex-military, and thus very good at yelling at people. As the first wave poured in, I let him tell everyone where to go while I mostly hit people up for booze.
What I thought was a group of nuns turned out to be a team of female Supreme Court Justices from Indianapolis. This was their fourth year, and they gave me some beer. I liked them.
I heard some funk music and scuttled over to a twelve piece funk band jamming in the corner of the lot. It was the ‘Chubby Funkadelics.’ Their M.C. asked me how funky I was, and I told her on a scale from 1-10, I was funkalicious.
This earned me a half pint of Funky Punch, which was like having a Piña Colada in my pocket.
They were too drunk to realize that Cobra Lounge’s competition was air-band. I told them to get their asses in there to win, and they obliged. I don’t think they won, but they did win best art cart.
Next I spoke with Troy from Red Door after seeing that a pig’s head was sticking out of his cart. He had turned his cart into a grill and was roasting a whole hog.
We talked about the importance of local food sources and growing up in the middle of nowhere. I ate some of his meat and it was delicious.
Then the ‘Too Soon’ team rolled in and pissed everyone off. They had pictures of Bill Cosby and some of the women he had supposedly assaulted taped to their cart.
The guy I talked to was wearing a Mork costume in remembrance of Robin Williams. We talked about laughing at our pain and how comedians like Louis C.K. are genius because they help us deal with the darkness and fear that lie dormant in all of us.
These guys received a lot of heat for painting their faces “blackface.” Maybe tasteless humor does have its boundaries, but I had bigger problems to worry about.
The ‘Whoregon Trail’ team gave me a card that said I had died of dysentery. If I had to choose a way to die on the Oregon Trail, I would rather drown while trying to cross the river, but this was the Whoregon Trail, and it was merciless.
I turned to a team dressed as the Avengers and asked if they could fight my dysentery. Unfortunately, none of them were Ant Man, so I was fucked.
I stumbled over to my good friend Willie, who made me a fresh batch of popcorn from his cart he had fashioned into a movie style popcorn machine.
I think that popcorn saved my life. Thanks, Willie.
All day, hundreds of drunken people came in and out of the parking lot and almost all of them were courteous.
The only disorderly drunk I encountered came at the end of the event. A girl was yelling because someone kicked over her cart, and she was unaware that sabotaging was a part of the competition.
She continued to yell until my wife pointed out what we were actually doing here: raising money and food for those in need. The yelling stopped as everyone reflected on how awesome it was to be a part of such a strange event.
This year, CHIditarod raised $30,000 and 27,000 pounds of food for The Greater Chicago Food Depository.
I think it’s proof that you don’t need to appeal to the altruistic and charitable qualities in people to make good things happen. Organize an event that is fun and brings people together, and the charity aspect will follow suit.
If a thousand drunken people can do this much good in one day, just imagine what a million drunken people could do.