A few years back I worked as a bartender.
I've recently ran across a couple of my regulars. It was good to see them happy.
Back then, that wasn't the story.
John was going through a bitter divorce where the wife was using their son as a pawn. Then he had an accident at work. Despite the doctor's attempts, he ended up losing his right eye. One afternoon, he was in the bar telling me he should just go kill himself because he was worth more dead than alive. We talked most of the afternoon. He left. I worried, but he showed up a couple days later in better spirits.
A few days ago, I saw him in town with a beautiful woman at his side, a teenager who looked just like him (his son), and an energetic 6 year old. He acknowledged me with a nod and a smile.
Jamie was a young man. Always happy and polite. One day, he came in angry. He was hitting those pool balls like he was killing someone. I asked him if he wanted to talk, he said no. Then he ordered Crown and Coke (his usual was beer). A couple drinks later, I snagged his keys off his table. A couple more drinks later, he told me he and his siblings had made the decision to take their mom off life support the next day. I told him this wasn't the way to deal,but if it was what he needed to go ahead. Eventually, I had another regular take him home with another following in his truck. They took him into his apartment and tucked him in. The next weeks were rough on him, but he got through them. Recently, I saw him. He hugged me, showed me pictures of his kids. Then he looked down at the ground and said he needed to thank me for getting him through that time when he didn't have anyone to talk to.
I guess my gift in this life is a beer and an ear.