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Monday, March 28, 2005

St. Jimmy

"That's $5.20 please," RA said.

"Are you serious?" the hick said.

"Yes."

"For one beer?"

"Yes."

He shook his head and scrounged up the right amount in change.

"You're a robber, mate." I could tell he was a hick by the way he spoke, his greasy slicked-back hair, and his ratty farmer's clothes. But it was mainly the fact that he was complaining about the price of beer that I took him for a rube.

RA walked off, and my sister and I were left behind the bar, drying dishes. The hick drank his beer quickly, and when he was nearly finished, he called me over.

"You gonna shout the next one?" he asked me.

"I hadn't planned on it," I said, and walked back to the other end of the bar to continue drying dishes.

"What?"

"I said 'no.' "

"Why not?"

"Why would I?"

"Because it cost me $5.20. That's for two, right?"

"Nope, that's for one."

"You're going to be closed down by next year if you keep that up," he said.

"It's a pretty standard price for a beer," I told him. At that point my mind was sending me several messages:

1. This guy is an idiot. Just ignore him. Arguing with him would be like replying to some jackass' internet post about how High Noon is a thinly-veiled pro-communist film.
2. Just indulge him, it doesn't matter. Just laugh and hope he goes away soon.
3. Fuck this asshole. I'm not in the mood to deal with this shit, and if he insists on behaving like an idiot, that's how I'm going to treat him. Just play it cool, but don't take any shit.

Guess what? Number three won.

"Five bucks for a beer? That's ridiculous." he shook his head.

"If you don't like it, you don't have to come in here."

He looked at me. I looked at him. We sat there staring at each other for a good eight seconds, and I could see my sister out of the corner of my eye observing us nervously.

"Yeah, I guess you're right," he said.

"If you want a cheap beer, go buy one from the store and drink it in your living room. When you go out, you pay for more than just the beer, you pay for the staff, the environment, the music, everything."

"You a Yank?"

"Yes I am."

"So I have to pay you higher wages because you're a Yank? What are you getting, like twenty bucks an hour?"

"I'm saying that when you go to a bar, the cost of the beer goes towards the cost of running a business." I walked away again.

He called over to me from his corner. "You're a Yank, right? How much does a beer cost over there, one or two dollars?"

"I doubt you'd find a beer that cheap anywhere in the States. Most beers cost at least three dollars, and more like four, which is much more than what you just paid."

"No they don't. They don't cost that much."

"OK . . ."

"Yeah, I guess you're right. Let's just change the subject. You're a Yank, right?"

I sighed audibly. "Yes."

"What do you think of George Bush?"

I couldn't help laughing as I walked over to him. "Wow. The only topic worse than the price of beer: politics." I walked away again.

"I think he's a good guy--taking care of those towel heads, eh? Somebody's got to take care of those bastards."

I ignored him.

"What about the blacks? You keep them in their place over there at home?"

I laughed. "Get a load of this guy!" I said to my sister so he could hear. "Jesus!"

A moment or two passed, and I was now putting away coffee cups.

"What's your name?" he asked.

"Chris," I said.

"I'm Jimmy."

"Of course you are," I said to myself.

"Do you like V-8 engines?" he asked.

I gave him a knowing look. "It's a pretty fast engine, I guess. But the V-12 is much faster."

"You know a lot about cars?"

"Not really."

"You a bit of a gearhead? Know how to get in there and fix cars, eh?"

"No."

"Yeah . . ." he watched TV for a minute. Some rugby game was on. "I traveled around Asia."

"Oh? Good for you."

"Yep. Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, all that."

"How'd you find it?"

"Pretty good. Sometimes the beer was expensive though. The women were pretty friendly, if you know what I mean." He took a sip of his beer. There was only a sip or two left.

"Hm."

"Met some Yanks over there. Military guys. They thought they were hot shit."

"Part of the mentality, I guess."

"Yeah, they have a lot of technology."

"What, the guys did?"

"No, the military, the Yanks."

"Yep."

He finished the rest of his beer.

"Can I get another one?"

"Sure."

"For two dollars?"

"For full price, $5.20."

"Five twenty!" he said. "Come on!"

"I don't make the rules, I just play by them."

"Then I'm leaving."

"See ya."

"See you tomorrow," he said.

Tomorrow?

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5:33 AM  

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