I mentioned in my last post that I got kicked out of school because I forgot to study for a few classes. You see, just like Rick in Casablanca, I was misinformed. Turns out that the College of Engineering had nothing to do with driving trains. Neither did the College of Commerce and Business Administration, but I didn’t have to pass Theoretical and Applied Mechanics to graduate. Besides, you can’t imagine the babes in my Econ classes. So armed with an amusing GPA and an Econ degree I hit the job market. I found out that qualified me for assistant manager positions at either Radio Shack or Payless Shoes. I decided to hold out for a position in investment banking, but was running out of beer money so took one of those “in-between” jobs. Yep, my first job out of college was at the prestigious multi-national corporation called Red Lobster. I folded up my diploma, stuck it in my back pocket, carefully positioned my “Lobsterfest is Lobsterbest!” button over my left breast pocket and took my place behind the bar. I learned the nuances of making Lobster Punch and how to slice 20 limes without drawing blood. This experience proved even more valuable than my degree as I was soon being recruited by competitors at the nearby mall, and after intense negotiations that included a free basket of chips and salsa I accepted a position at Carlos Sweeney’s. There I learned not only how to make a killer margarita, but also some deceptively powerful sangria, and how to swear in Spanish.
Sure it was fun, but after six months my liver started to hurt and the girl I was dating convinced me that a suburban mall bartender position might not be the best place to reach my potential. So I quit and moved to the city. No more suburban mall bars for me. Instead I scored a position working the door at Pippin’s Tavern on Rush Street. My responsibility was to card everyone that showed up and keep minors and bums out while an imposing, yet likely illiterate, goon stood behind me and enforced my decisions. Those gaining entry were treated to the Cheers-like hospitiality, cold beer, killer jukebox, and free popcorn. I believe closing time was around 2 a.m. back then, but a sister bar named Streeter’s around the corner stayed open until 5 a.m. where my girlfriend was busy realizing her full potential. By sister bar, I mean it had the same ownership, not that the clientele was exclusively black women. Which is a good thing since another responsibility of the Pippin’s doorman was to walk one of the old, white regulars who was blind over to Streeter’s after last call. I’m not sure how he got home from Streeter’s but he couldn’t have been much worse off than the other customers still in the bar at 5 a.m. But I digress.
Our favorite bartender in those days was a guy named Jose who used his tip money to pay his tuition. Good to know my drinking provided some benefit to this world. About a year after I quit I was in the area and saw Jose walking down the street with his standard backpack. He was approached by one of the bums I had been tasked with keeping out of the bar in the old days. But instead of ignoring him like most of the passing crowd, he stopped. And instead of just giving him some pocket change or a dollar like one might expect, he took the man into the neighboring Dunkin’ Donuts and bought him a cup of coffee. He even went a step further and sat down with the man at a table and talked with him. I have no idea what they discussed that day. Maybe it was the stock market, maybe it was time travel. I don’t even know if the man fully appreciated the gesture. Nonetheless, Jose’s actions that day made an impression on me, although I can’t claim to be nearly as compassionate. But I am taller than he is.
What sparked this memory was when another reader recently asked me about a novel called Magnificent Obsession that I apparently referred to a while back in this blog. It was written back in 1929 (the book, not the blog), and I was reminded that it’s rather dated (still talking about the book). It’s not a classic in the literary sense, but known more for the content which promotes philanthropy not just for the good of others but also as a means to achieving personal success and achievement. The only catch, according to the book, is that no one else is to know of your good deed if you wish to capture the full reward of your act. To some it may bring up the question of what motivates altruistic behavior. To others it may bring up the question of what’s for dinner. There’s more to the book, but it’s been years since I’ve read it. It’s been years since I’ve read anything since discovering online porn. The book has its own cadre of fanatics that I’m sure I’ve offended with my half-assed description, but with a little research you can track them down if interested.
If the concept has you at all intrigued, try it. Do a good deed for somebody, but don’t tell anyone else about it. Nobody. Keep it to yourself. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but I have a feeling that Jose could do it.