Brought to you by Steel Reserve 211: “If there were a cheaper way to get you fucked-up, we would have figured it out by now”
The ride home was mundane at best. With my Nite Rider light currently dead, I recommissioned my headlamp to serve as my helmet beacon. I can’t see shit. It sucks, but at least cars can see me before they cut me off anyway. That’s my piece of mind nowadays. My iPod shuffle also died several weeks ago. After 5 seasons it finally moved on to wherever the souls of dead mp3 players go if you believe in that sort of thing. Maybe they just decay in some heap somewhere. The light and I-pod did tend to add some sort of sanity to my rides. Now I ride in silence and in the dark, save for those interruptions of horns blaring and vehicles getting cozy with my left shoulder. Sensory deprivation isn’t for everyone.
I got to within a 1/4 mile of my house. My liquor supply at home had been completely depleted. I knew that it didn’t have to be that way. I set a new course for Gallagher’s on Broad St. I pulled into the lot and from the darkness a man came out and started doing a monologue about the year he’d had. I looked around just to make sure his words for me, though I truly knew no one else was there. After getting to the point, he told me that he had just recently lost his job. He followed by giving me the lamens US job report. Just in case I wasn’t staying abreast of market trends he wanted me to know that he also empathized with his jobless brethren. While closing his opening, he asked me if I could buy him a beer. It wasn’t change, so I gladly asked him his poison. He requested a “211”. I had no idea what he was asking for, but I was already wearing Lycra and didn’t care to ostracize myself further from the black community. I walked into the store and picked up the Woodford Bourbon that I was pining for from the start. I then walked over to the cheap cooler with the broken door as I felt that I would find this “211” sitting right next to the Ballentine and Country Club. Bulls-eye! My hands were frigid from the ride, so I had to ask the clerk to help me pick a cold one. I almost wanted to explain that I was getting the beer for a guy down on his luck outside because I shop there often and usually have pretty decent taste, but I let my snootiness go. I brought my choices to the counter and then added a Dewar’s airplane bottle, because I didn’t want the guy to drink alone.
I left the store and handed the guy his bagged beer. I took out my Dewar’s and we toasted. He returns to his seat next to the dumpster and we begin to talk. I’m in Lycra so I continue standing. Snags in the rear material tend to look unsightly. Apparently I took out the couch, because his life story began to come out. 2 kids in Texas, his family in Delaware, his mother who works for the casino’s in Atlantic City and his grandmother who more than anyone else was the rock in his life. Not a bad conversation at all. The guy needed a beer and an ear. I get that, that’s why I hung around for an hour. I may see him again hopefully at another location. A turn of bad luck never rights itself drinking “Steel Reserve 211”.