By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Mar 06, 2014 at 5:01 AM Photography: Bobby Tanzilo

Sometimes things sneak up on you and provide a surprise when you are least expecting it.

That’s what happened to me a week ago when I attended the Bartender Games at Turner Hall. The OnMilwaukee staff was out in force and I wanted to drop in and show the colors.

As I parked illegally right in front of Turner Hall and headed inside I was positive I knew what was coming.

It was going to be a bunch of 20 and 30-somethings, doing shot after shot until they got stinking drunk and started to behave badly. I’ve been part of events like this for a long time and when I was their age, the festivities often ran until dawn with nary a stop for food or breath or common sense.

The surprise I got at Turner Hall was that so many of these young people were, in three words, "very, very nice."

Now, let’s understand that I was probably at least double the age of most of the people there. The event was being fueled by a wide array of cocktails and liquors for guests to sample. The thump from a DJ pounded. Jon Adler, the morning host at WLUM, continually fired up the crowd.

It was a night made for hell-raising, which is what made me so very surprised.

First of all, many of the people nodded or said hello as I walked through the crowd. Not a cursory nod, but a friendly nod. Trust me, I can tell the difference.

And there were little moments.

I was sitting in a chair just off stage (I’m too old to stand all night long). Three young women, dressed to kill, were standing in front of me. One of them, wearing tight, bright red pants that matched her lipstick, turned around and saw they were blocking my view. She took the arms of her friends and moved them out of my way. I nodded my thanks and red pants smiled a "you’re welcome."

I got a Diet Coke from the bar and the bartender leaned across the bar and said, "just come back here if you need more. On me."

Watching two girls bop to the music, I saw a young guy walk past them. He bumped one of them and her beer spilled on the gym floor. The guy stood up, ran to a bar, came back with a beer for her and a rag and got on his knees to wipe up the spilled beer.

There were several young ladies trying to get people to try e-cigarettes. She was exceedingly patient and answered every stupid question I had.

I met Adler, a guy for whose middle name is probably flamboyance. He was very nice. Smart. Courteous.  Funny. A good talker, but a good listener too.

There was a girl with a walking cast on, trying to make her way through the crowd. Two guys each took an arm and pushed the people out of her way and escorted her to wherever she was going. They weren’t trying to hit on her. They were helping. Trust me, I can tell the difference.

I saw a guy buying a drink at a bar. He had his wallet out and was opening it, looking for money to pay for the drink. A woman next to him tapped him on the hand and threw down the cash for his drink. He looked embarrassed and she just turned and walked away. Paying it forward.

You know what else I noticed. Hardly any profanity. I’m not above a little colorful language now and then and was taught how to swear well by an old boatswain’s mate named Aresco. But I was surprised, I guess, by how civilized these young people seemed to be.

Oh, these were not an "Up With People" crowd. There were, I’m sure, saints and sinners among them. There were moments of hijinks.

But I guess I was expecting a crowd of people who were self-absorbed and trying to impress and not particularly concerned about anyone else.

What I found was exactly the opposite. It made me feel like the future of this city is in pretty good hands.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.