First of the month… dispatch comes… dive bar central in the early evening… Here we go, this will be fun.
Tim, a man about my age, clean clothes but ill-fitting, is still in Knuckleheads, leaning on the wall at the end of the bar. He can barely stand or speak but has several Styrofoam containers wrapped in plastic bags (so I know he had money).
The very hot, surfer looking, augmented and deeply tanned bartender tells me has money. He’s been paying cash all day. I feel a bit better about this fare. Tim manages to explain in a language I can only describe as “Pidgin Whiskey” how he would like me to wait for him for a little while and he gives me a $5 while we stand in the bar. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” is sounding great through their sound system. A tall, heavy-set black guy playing pool is singing proudly and off-key. It has to be his Karaoke song. Everyone has one.
Tim joins me and Surfer girl, who’s taking a quick break, outside, as we finish our smokes. She doesn’t take him for a puker. I’m feeling even better about Tim. The seasoned bar tender doesn’t think he will puke and says he has money;) He can barely get in the car without falling. I help him with the food bags and the door. I have no idea if other drivers do this for the Tim’s of the town.
Bad news. We are going to the Lido. A weekly. Two blocks away.
Good news. When we get there. he decides he wants to go somewhere else. He informs me of how he is a man of his word and only if you keep your word can you call yourself a man. His word required him to pay the liquor store guy for the past few week’s booze. Who knew you could get credit for booze if you have a monthly check? Did I mention this is the first Friday of the month? May 3rd, there are a lot of Tim’s in town tonight.
In the store, Tim is becoming more steady and focused. He no longer seems like he is going to fall over or asleep. He asks Abu, the brother of the word taker, if it is OK to give him the money. Abu opens a ragged looking spiral notebook. So much writing. So much credit. So many Tim’s. He finds the correct column and the total is $103. Tim gives him $105 then another $20 as a “tip.” I don’t know if Abu and his brother charge points, but if they do, the tip is overkill in my book. Tim doesn’t care. He’s been drinking all day and has food in bags, 4 fresh Steel Reserves, a smile on his face and his word is still good. He is still a man… and that is important to him.
During the drive back to the Lido he tells me of how he found god back in ’81… and how he will be judged on how he treats people. Oh, and how he is an alcoholic but the friends he is taking care of (he got them a room for two weeks) are druggies. He wants to help them but they won’t help themselves. I didn’t mention anything about the Pot and the Kettle.
He paid me the $17 and gave me an $8 tip. I got back in queue while I listened to him tell me for the 4th or 5th times about his age, his alcoholism, his ungrateful druggy friends and God.
I liked Tim, he could be any nice middle-aged man with an addiction and a good heart. I thought of the Lannisters from the Game of Thrones… and how a Lannister always pays his debts. Definitions are funny sometimes. Tim’s definition might be a bit narrow, but he is a good man.
Good luck, to all the Tims of the world.