“Same again please” he said
It was Thursday morning, the pub had only been open for 30 minutes and he was already ordering his 3rd pint.
The young barman, Scott, with his mop of hair covering his eyebrows responded “Sure. Bit early to start don’t you think? It’s £3.50 either way”
The man disgruntled by the comment give Scott a smug look
“Thanks,” he said as he handed over the coins from his pocket, “how old are you?”
Scott took the exact change and handed the man his pint
“I’m 22” Scott said
“A boy” said the man, taking his pint
“Dare I ask how old you are then?” Scott said, smiling
“35 young man” he replied
“You ain’t much older than me!” Scott said
“Respect your elders lad” said the man
The pub was empty at these times so Scott wasn’t expecting much business. This time was usually spent changing barrels and checking the tills however with this man going through beer faster than a crackhead through rubbish bins today, Scott decided it was worth seeing if he could build some rapport with him.
Smiling in response, Scott said “So tell me 35-year-old sir, what advice would you give to someone who’s still a boy then?”
The man took a large sip of his 3rd pint while staring at Scott after he asked the question
“Shouldn’t you be changing the barrels?” he replied
“I’m supervisor today, got my colleague to do it instead”
“I see. You want advice then? Really want advice?”
“It’s not every morning a 22-year-old gets called a boy is it?”
“Fair enough” said the man “after this pint, if you’re not busy, join me on a table away from the bar. Wisdom is shared sitting down, not across a bar where cunts come in and order”
“Sure, enjoy your drink” Scott said
The man took his pint over to the table closest to the door; he was wearing a long black coat which covered his attire underneath it, black trousers and black shoes. Scott hadn’t noticed his lower half when he came in, but he had now
Scott watched him finish his pint in the next 10 minutes and after informing his two colleagues that he was taking an early break, went over to the table where the man was sitting.
The TV screens in the pub glistened around with the news of the day, but Scott noted that the table where the man was sitting was away and unable to see the screens.
“May I join you or do you want me to get you another drink first?” Scott asked
“Sit down. I’ll be gone soon enough” he replied
Scott sat and waited for a minute or so, the silence wasn’t awkward. The man’s energy wasn’t confrontational and despite him showing no emotion to Scott thus far, there was no malice in his eyes
He looked at Scott and smiled finally, “I remember being 22 like it was yesterday. I got told a lie that it gets better at 30. It’s a lie”
Scott straightened his chair as the man continued
“This morning I went to my third funeral in the last 2 months. All 3, they’re relatives. The men in my family are disappearing.”
Scott put his head down, “I’m sorry for your los…”
“Don’t be polite for politeness sake” the man said, “First was my uncle, then my dad, and now my granddad. Uncle was 55, old man was 60 and granddad outlived both of them at 91. But now he’s gone and everything gets a little more clearer.”
“How do you mean?” Scott asked putting his arms on the table and leaning in
“You miss the little things the most, but that only happens when you’re lost in the bigger picture. All 3 of them never aimed too high, just got on with things and now they’re all gone for different reasons, life stares back at you and asks ‘You’re soon, so what are you going to do now?’ if that makes sense”
“I think so… but you said you’re only 35”
“Most people die inside by 29 young man. And even that’s pushing it. The world breaks them into accepting personal mediocrity. Don’t believe me, look at me and the majority of people who frequent pubs on a regular basis. Think about it”
Scott paused and looked down, he had been working at the pub for a year and thought about all the events that they had ran, private functions and the regular punters and he realised this man might be stating the truth
“Just having a quick think, I hear you”
“I’m tired of being average mate” the man said. Scott noted a tear appearing in his eye.
He spoke again “I don’t want to die average mate, I’m so tired”
Scott attempted to comfort him, “Take it easy man, I’m sure it’ll…”
“… be fine. Again, politeness for polite sake. I mean polite for politeness sake. Thanks mate. Your care really helps. I’ll be on my way”
The man rose from his seat and walked to the door in Usain Bolt like speed. He hadn’t even put his coat on.
Scott sat there for a moment before going back to the bar. On the way back, he noticed how the news headline from earlier had evaporated on the screens and was no longer even being mentioned.
“Time does fly, doesn’t it” he said to himself.