Strangers

Tony’s Pub is pretty small; there were about seven people when he arrived, but he still grabbed a seat at the bar so he could watch the T.V., which was playing the college basketball game. I came over to him and asked what he would wanted to drink. 

“Just a beer, please. Also, can I just get a cheeseburger with some fries, please?” 

“Absolutely.” I brought him his beer, and he thanked me as I told him his food would be ready in about ten minutes. As a bartender, I get to interact with people daily and I can usually tell how people are feeling, and because of this, I got to hear about this guy’s whole day because I asked if he was doing all right. 

He’d been sitting in the airport going on two and a half hours now, because his original flight to Washington D.C. had been delayed, due to inclement weather. He arrived at the Raleigh Durham Airport at two and got through Customs within in an hour, just to find out about his delay. He began killing his time by wandering aimlessly throughout the airport, walking into any store that piqued his interest. He went into the PGA Tour Shop, then found his way into the Sunglass Hut, while buying a smoothie, in the meantime, from one of the little snack stations. He managed to kill some more time until dinner, when he decided to sit and eat at this pub near his gate, Gate 9. 

After I brought him his food, I watched him eat, and his body language said a lot about his emotional state. He ate very slowly and kept his head down, for the most part. Occasionally, he would lean his head against his hand and rub his face almost as if he was tired or fed up with something. He finished his food and I removed his plates. When I came back from the kitchen, I asked him if he wanted anything else

“I’ll take another beer, please.” 

“Of course, sir.” I filled another glass from the tap and started walking over to him. Then I paused, because I noticed him watching something. It was a young girl and her mother.

 The child looked like she was almost in tears, while the mother was talking on the phone. The mother put the phone to her shoulder and bending toward her, started getting angry. It looked as if she was yelling at the little girl, because she was practically talking with her hands as people do when they get angry. The daughter was just taking it, looking very sad and ready to cry. The mother put the phone back to her ear for maybe five seconds, and then put it back in her pocket as if she had just told the person on the other end that she needed to go. She then grabbed her daughter’s arm with one hand, and started pointing at her with the other, as if she was scolding her. Then she started walking away, gripping her daughter’s arm. 

The man at the bar had been watching intently. I brought his drink over, and he just looked at me, almost with disbelief or like he just remembered something, and then he said, “I think I’m all set, actually.” He threw down twenty-five dollars and told me to keep the change, then got up and left.  I watched him as he walked out the pub and headed the opposite direction of his gate, almost as if he was in a rush or too late for his flight. But he still had close to another hour until his flight departed. 

Whether that guy just couldn’t bear seeing that little girl getting yelled at—it just pushed him over the edge after his long day – or if that scene sparked a bad memory; or maybe he just read the time wrong and panicked, I’ll never know, because that was the last time I saw that guy. 

  Jake Bosse ‘14