Every day we trudge, stumble or walk through life and we are amazed and appalled by man’s inhumanity to man. Whether it’s a senseless shooting, a car bomb in some place we’d never like think about otherwise, or the person with the fish or “coexist” bumper sticker flipping off the car they just cut off, we are reminded daily that people suck.
We question ourselves, we question each other, we ask rhetorically “What the f**k is wrong with people?”
Every so often we see something or get to participate in something that reminds us that there is indeed hope for this world, and there are good people fighting the fight. Last night was one such occasion.
As many of you know, I tend bar in a busy brewery/restaurant in San Diego. In the course of a normal shift I get to interact with a myriad of personality types; the quiet couple, the brazen drunk, the cheap folks that wouldn’t tip if their hair was on fire, as well as the kind and caring and generous. Last night, (a busy Friday) I saw kindness, generosity, and most importantly respect, paid in a way that brought unbridled joy to my jaded heart.
A group of current and former Navy Seals came to the bar. They caught the attention of one of our bartenders and asked a favor. It seems that one of their brethren, Travis, was a huge craft beer fan who was killed in the act of defending his country, and they wanted to honor him. They told of how he loved to introduce people to craft beer, often buying total strangers a round of beer so they could taste the wonder that is a well crafted pint. On this, the anniversary of his passing, they wanted to carry on the tradition of buying beers for strangers, as they knew it’s what he would be doing had he lived. They had a round of drinks, toasted their lost friend Travis and then made an unusual request.
They asked if they could open a tab for a specific amount and have us, the bar staff, choose people at random to buy a beer in honor of their comrade until the tab was full. All they asked is that we mention their friend Travis and explain why they were getting a beer. While it’s not something that we would usually do, we felt that it was important to honor their request. I cannot convey the emotions that were on display as random people were told that they were getting a beer in honor of a fallen Navy Seal. Some were shocked, some were emotional, and all were genuinely touched by the gesture. One guest asked how much was left on the tab, and when he was told there was only a few dollars left, he pulled out his credit card and asked to have the amount transferred to his card, so he could reset the tab at zero and start it over again.
After getting one of the ‘honor beers’ another guest asked if he could open a tab and do the same to honor his friend Greg who was killed in Benghazi on 9/11 of 2012. I’ll be honest, when I told patrons the story of why they were getting a ‘free’ beer, it got a little dusty in the bar. People were honored to have a beer in the name of a fallen US soldier, and just about all of them did a toast to our military heroes that gave their lives for our country. Every member of our bar staff took pride, honor and joy in fulfilling the requests. All told, there was close to $200 between all of the tabs.
Sometimes with all the insensitivity, callousness, and sometimes downright cruelty that we impose on our fellow man, we forget that at the end of the day, most people have good hearts. I was deeply touched by the gestures and kind words from my fellow man. And I was truly honored to be a part of it.
Maybe there’s hope for us after all…
Andy the Beerman