So I think it was last Sunday when I decided to expand my horizons and pay a little visit to another local watering hole to wet my whistle and maybe join in a conversation or two with some different folks. After all, it’s always good to view things from another perspective every now and then. You know, take another look at life through somebody else’s eyes for a change and view the scenery. Who knows, you might actually like what you see.
Yeah, I know, some of you that know my history are probably shaking your heads and saying to yourself that I’m being an asshole. After all, I’m not supposed to be doing that kind of stuff to start with but since old habits die hard and I had played golf in the morning and gotten a little bit of exercise I felt like I was entitled to a few cold ones. Besides, it was hotter than Hades and my lack of air conditioning made the evening feel even more oppressive than it already was. Plus, you can rationalize just about any behavior that you choose to indulge yourself with.
(He said with a smile…)
So anyways, the place was pretty empty and the pickings were pretty slim. It’s not like I’d barge in on somebody else’s conversation and the regulars down at the end of the bar had their spots picked out and they looked like they didn’t want to be bothered. I guess there’s some kind of code of conduct or unwritten rule that goes something along the lines of that if you’re in somebody else’s house, you play by their rules. No use making waves or making an ass out of yourself and risk being tossed.
So I sat and nursed maybe three or four beers and was getting ready to fold up my tents and head for home and maybe cook myself up some beans and weenies and either put on some music or watch television. The door opened and another customer wandered in. He looked like he could be Joe Anybody but apparently he’d been to this place before. He pulled up a stool maybe three or four seats away and began counting out pennies on the bar. By the way he was dressed, you could tell he wasn’t homeless or dangerous or anything like that. I figured he was just some dude who was a little down on his luck. It wasn’t long before the bartender wandered over
I’m sorta watching these little scene play out of from the corner of my eye and I’m thinking that beers are maybe two bucks each, two fifty tops and he’s gonna come up short.
His mountain of pennies tops out at $1.87
He gives the bartender one of those plaintive, helpless child kind of looks and I swear he looked like was going to cry and she tells him she can give him a Coke or a Sprite or some iced tea but we all knew that’s not what he needed. By now, I’m trying to avoid eye contact because once you do that you’re somehow magically drawn into the proceedings and you become more of a participant than a spectator.
By now, I’m expecting the guy to start begging the bartender to let him slide for the difference or to start begging quarters from some of the other patrons in order to quench his thirst.
Instead, what does he do?
He says he’s sorry for causing any trouble and he slowly starts putting the stacks of pennies in his pocket. I couldn’t freakin’ believe it. Here’s this guy, who either shit on the world or the world shit on him and he’s down to what seems like his last $1.87 and all he wants is a cold one and maybe a little company and an ear to tell his story to and he’s the one who’s sorry?
I called the bartender over and asked for one more and told her to put another one on my tab and give it to the guy with my compliments. At first, he tried to give me the $1.87 but I politely refused. Then he said he felt guilty about taking the drink but I figured maybe that was just a line and he’d get over his guilt pretty soon. He started bending my ear a bit about this and that and it wasn’t long before we struck somewhat of a common bond about one my favorite bands and about the day's gone by. After a bit, it was time for me to go.
I stepped out into the sunlight and the glare of coming from a darkened bar into the bright evening sun made my eyes just a bit watery.
Anyway, that’s what I keep telling myself, that it was the early evening sun. After all, like I said earlier, we can rationalize just about anything to ourselves.