America in your hand, saving the beer, Final Chapterby Rebecca Mance on 09/03/16
As promised, I am going to start telling life stories. I think people who are artists and writers live rich lives because of their deep passion. In my case, it gets me into lots of trouble at times, but at others I think it brings miracles and amazing things are accomplished. I always say that our hearts, believing so much in something that you throw yourself into it passionately, drives the most amazing things to happen. I am going to tell this story through a book eventually and it is started, so I hope I am not giving away ideas to other unscrupulous writers.
However, I decided that this was the time to tell the story because of the event. Book with details to follow…someday when I have time to write. Right now I am a pretty good paralegal and our small but mighty firm has won in trial (making my two 24 hour days pay off in my heart) and to continue on this winning streak requires me to focus on work and less on writing. I am still working on next book but only in pieces and parts. I will get there. So the story of saving the beer.
This story starts in the summer of 2008. I had gone to a West Point football game and Budweiser had sponsored it. They had brought those magnificent horses there in the most beautiful horse coaches imaginable. They were huge, like rolling barns only, they were red, white and blue. Those horses, by the way, are huge and utterly breathtaking. They actually took them out at the game and just like in commercials, they drove with beer boxes and a spotted dog. It moved me to tears. But of course, being there with hundreds of West Point Cadets was pretty amazing too.
(So many of my stories revolve around horses, yet I do not ride. Anyway…..)
Being the Patriot I am (I am not just a daughter of the American Revolution… meaning not in the club but meaning that my ancestor Thomas Hale, who has a Revolutionary War number, served in the pre-war militia and the Revolutionary War. Also, my birthday, ironically, December 16 falls on the anniversary date of the Boston Tea Party), I was so moved by their support of the military schools and generally support of soldiers.
I decided to drink Budweiser then and there.
I did drink it, religiously, from that day on. I often ordered it at upscale bars in San Francisco and drank it right from bottle to be funny and scandalous! It was fun. Sometimes I would do this and others would order it too when you just know in sophisticated bars in San Francisco, no one but no one is ordering a Bud.
Then, one day Budweiser, in what appeared to be a hostile take over, was about to be sold to InBev. A Brazilian Company. They make a notable beer called Stella Artois.
I was very upset. So, I started my campaign in a fight to save the beer. I wrote faxes not just to Mr. Brito (the then CEO of InBev, maybe still is, not sure, haven’t checked) and the board of Anheuser and August Busch IV.
Being gifted in law, I laid out a number of things, mainly dealing with anti-trust issues. August Busch and the board then did pull up and tried to fight back.
InBev made an offer for more per share and it was a lot more. That rather sealed the deal as they say.
Still, I continued the fight. I threatened to write the Justice Department, which I did. I started researching it and was convinced it was an anti-trust issue.
I wrote my comprehensive letter to the Justice Department and mailed it on August 27, 2008. The very next day, as I left for lunch at work, I was hit by a car going 30 miles an hour, bounced off of the hood, cracked the windshield of the car, took out a headlight, dented the hood all before flying what witnesses said was 30 feet to land on the pavement.
Thankfully, I was knocked out immediately and have no recollection of this other than initially realizing I was being hit and knowing I was going to die.
It all happened, very ironically, under a very large Stella Artois sign. It really did. I was saved by a backpack my son had pulled from dumpsters in basic training when he entered the Army. It had some defect so it could not be used. It is called a camel back and it has a hard shell. He thought I would like it and I did. It saved my life because it blunted the impact of the car and then I landed on it. I was hurt very badly, but alive and walking because of that backpack.
For reasons, known only to him, Joseph Alioto, an attorney in San Francisco that I have never met, filed a preliminary injunction brief in St. Lewis Court to stop the sale. I wrote a “friend of the court” brief on my own behalf and others similarly situated. Many of the things I had raised in the Justice Department letter were in Mr. Alioto’s brief and he had thought of a lot of other neat stuff I had not considered.
We did win that injunction. There was, in fact, an injunction and the sale put on hold. However, there was a major problem in this victory. To keep the injunction, there had to be a million dollar bond posted. I certainly didn’t have that kind of money. Therefore, we could not prevail in the injunction because we could not keep it without the million dollar bond.
The Justice Department did write me back. They investigated the anti-trust issues and determined that there was one anti-trust issue. InBev had to sell one brewery somewhere in the northeast.
I was very sad but still determined. I am such a deeply passionate person and once I believe in something, I never give up. My last chance to save the beer was at the shareholder meeting.
There I arrived still dragging my leg around from the accident but nevertheless wearing red, white and blue (looking like an airline stewardess). One person who worked for Anheuser-Busch and who undoubtedly was an insider who sold out on the company, came up to me and said, “You need to let this go.” Like really?
Well, I had my passionate speech prepared. I saw August Busch, I could not imagine his heartbreak of losing everything his family had built. He looked pretty brave for a man in that situation and was almost flamboyant really in some subtle sarcasm. I gave my impassioned speech and it was very good. I reminded all about the things the company had done for the country and soldiers. People clapped.
But the beer was sold anyway.
Several shareholders approached me. They told me my speech was so beautiful and that they were sorry, but it was too much money to pass up. I thought that they were nice but they cared more about money than America. I’d not have sold at any price.
The most beautiful thing that happened was that the employees came to me after the meeting. A group of them attended the meeting. They came to me post-meeting thanked me, very emotionally, so much for standing up for them. They were older and figured their days were numbered anyway and they were going to retire in the aftermath.
However, they presented me with a beautiful coin. It was a numbered coin dedicated to the troops serving in the middle-east and it had a number and everything. The company gave them to soldiers. They gave one to me. I have it now in a safe deposit box in the Crocker-Wells bank on Montgomery Street in San Francisco. It sits with medals of my son who served in Afghanistan (yes he is alive and well) and medals of my husband from his service in Vietnam.
Needless to say, I never drank Budweiser again. I went to other beers, including my favorite Kentucky Bourbon Barrel which I cannot get in California for some absurd reason. My husband brings it to me in his suitcase and last trip one was missing. Pretty funny.
I saw in Walmart once a few months ago that Anheuser-Busch had cases in red, white and blue and it said for every case bought, money was given to the soldiers. So, I bought one. I started softening a little on my stance against Mr. Brito and his InBev.
I heard the horses were sold. I have not investigated. I hope I am wrong.
However, I was sitting in the Palace Bar in San Francisco this past week, sipping on bubbles and talking to my husband after a very difficult day at work when I saw the commercial about America in Your Hand.
There is no way I can ever confirm this in any fashion, but I know in my heart that it was inspired by that fight long ago now and an impassioned speech in the final meeting when America’s beer was sold. The heart of a Patriot, millions of soldiers, a group of employees and a lawyer I have never met, Joseph Alioto, who for reasons of his own helped me, at least for a time, stop the sale of the beer, were all inspirations for this beer name change and commercial....I just know it.
When I saw the commercial and just knew it was inspired by the passion of me and undoubtedly others, I reflected on many things. One is, what power one person has if they truly believe in something with passion and act upon it, never giving up.
I also reflected on something else. I always say that Freedom’s Front Door is for everyone. In that commercial and in the change of the name, it is obvious that InBev and possibly Mr. Brito and others found Freedom’s Front Door and embrace it AND more importantly, have reminded all of us what America is really about. Now all of us can hold its name, its power, its meaning in our hands and be Patriots. America, after all, belongs to all of us because it is a beautiful idea where all people live free, with liberty and equalality and are able to chase any dream they wish.
You can bet, if it is available, the next time I am out and order beer, I will certainly hold America in my hand. I think a lot of other people will too. Here is the link to the amazing commercial and the final chapter in the story of saving the beer.
I did not lose the war after all did I? Perhaps it shows that in life winning is not always the battle you think you need to win. Yet, had the war not ensued would you arrive at this? Undoubtedly not.
I never surrendered, Patriots never do. We didn’t lose the beer after all either, we just made America bigger. I and others, undoubtedly convinced Mr. Brito and his company to come to our side. Allies are Americans too.
Now we can all hold the dream in hour hands, literally by holding its name, and by doing so, advance the dream of America and its ideas. Cheers Mr. Brito and InBev, you finally won over the last Patriot standing in the room fighting in the final meeting when the beer was sold...happy ending, amazing ending....so cheers again.... this America is for you.....
PS. I wonder if I could talk Pierce Lyons into changing Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale to "Patriot Ale".....hey...anything could happen to a girl who saved the beer.
This went unedited.