One More Round

I’m behind the bar, long, busy night, sorority party, two wedding parties, lots of people drunk off their asses.  I look at my watch, it’s 1:57am.  Lord have Mercy, it’s almost over.

Mexican guy comes up to the bar, with his pals.  He was in earlier on.  Looks like he’s had a night of drinking since then.

He says, I’d like to order a round of drinks.

I look at my watch.  It’s 1:58am.

Thing is, in 2 minutes, it’s going to turn back to 1am.  I could stay open another hour, but I don’t have it in me.  And obviously to me, this guy and his pals don’t need another round.

I say, with as much energy and composure as I can muster,

I’m sorry, sir.  It’s 1:58.  I called last call 40 minutes ago.  We’re done serving for the night.

He takes a pause, says,

I’ll give you $100 tip if you get me another round of drinks.

I take a pause, look around the room.  There’s a few people milling about.

I look at my watch, take one more pause, then say,

What’ll it be?

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God Gets Me A Deal On Brake Pads

I’m driving around my fairly new/used car last week, I hear a beep, look down, and I see a dreaded red light go on, with a dreaded new red icon glowing.  When you hear that kind of beep, and see that glowing red icon beaming out for the first time, if you’re me, the first thought that hits your brain is, there goes a $1,000.  I know next to nothing about cars, but I know when that light goes on, it means, get out the wallet.

BRAKE LIGHT.  NEED NEW BRAKE PADS.

Oh Holy Hell, here we go.

I drive around for a couple days, trying to ignore it, but you know how that works.  Every time you turn on the car…BEEEEEEP.  Lights go on, and stay on.  You can avert your eyes, but you know it’s still there.  Hey guy, you know that savings account you have?  Well…it’s about to get a lot smaller.

On Monday of this week, I call up my guy at the car dealership to get a quote.  His name is Brad, and is a super cool guy.  I would almost consider him a friend.  He’s come into the bar a couple times to see me, and seems like a really good guy.  I call him when I have a question, and he’s always very professional, and gets me the info I need.  A good guy to have in your corner when you know next to nothing about cars.

He gets back to me after checking with billing, and gives me a quote of…

$900 for brakes and rotors.

Oy Vey.

There’s a lot of things I’d rather spend 900 bucks on right now instead of brake pads, let me assure you.

On Tuesday, I call up another place, shop around.  Why the heck not?  He gives me a quote of $550.  A helluva lot less painful than 900 bucks, for sure.  After I get off the phone, an idea strikes.  I met this guy Tommy about 3-4 years ago at the bar, who’s a mechanic.  We hit it off, and he told me, if I ever needed a mechanic, to hit him up.  Hmmm.  The problem is, when I met him, he wasn’t living in Des Moines.  Another problem is, I don’t know his last name.  Let me Google Tommy Iowa Mechanic, maybe something will come up.  Not bloody likely.  Wait…maybe by some miracle I had put his name/number in my phone.  Who knows how many numbers I have in there?  I search Tommy, and nope.  Only my cigar buddy Tommy comes up.

C’est la Vie.

I call up the second place, make a reservation to come in on Thursday.

Last night I’m hanging with buddies, watching the Cubbies play.  I get on my phone, go on Facebook, oh I’ve got a Friend Request.  Who could that be?

So many miracles happen in our life.  They can be life-changing, huge, monumental, or they can be small, like thinking about a person one day, some random dude that you met at a bar 4 years before, and then the next day, miraculously, he reaches out to you.

You can do two things.  You can shrug it off, say, that’s cool, whatever.  Or you can FREAK OUT AT THE PROBABILITY OF IT ALL!!!!

I’ll be seeing Tommy on Sunday at 11.  And he’s saving me 150 bucks!!!

 

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Change Up Your Grip

Let’s say you want to pick up the game of tennis.  You find a racquet, you get some tennis balls, you grab a partner, you start playing.  You go out three times a week, play with friends, and after awhile, a year, maybe three, you start getting good.  You win most of your games against your friends.  You don’t take it too seriously.  Then maybe you join a team, and start playing better players than you.  A coach comes along one day, watches you play, and says, you need to change up your grip, it’s all wrong.  What?  I can’t play like that!  That’s impossible.  You try the new grip for a brief time, and you start losing games.  Games you should win, if you only played with your old grip.  Then you start to question.  Hey, what’s this guy talking about, change up my grip?  I was doing just fine with my old grip.  I was winning most of my games.  Ok, maybe it wasn’t pretty, but it did the job.  After awhile, you just give up the new grip, and go back to the old, because you just can’t see it.  It’s too hard.  And furthermore, maybe that new grip is just not right for me.  It doesn’t feel NATURAL.  It feels AWKWARD.  So you go back to the old grip, start winning those games again against your friends, and

You never get better.

Then one day, you play against a real tennis player, and get SLAUGHTERED.

You think, maybe when I switched up my grip, I should’ve just stuck with it.  And practiced MORE.  Maybe if I would have played with the new grip, every day, non-stop, at some point, it would’ve clicked.  But I just didn’t BELIEVE.  I couldn’t see the end result.  All I could see is losing those games I would normally win.  Maybe if I would’ve just STUCK WITH IT, and BELIEVED that my game would’ve gotten exponentially better by changing my grip, in the end, I would’ve become a better player.

This is a problem with most things in our life.  We have a difficult time with CHANGE.  Probably because of our inherent fear of failure.  And what does that mean?  What are we so scared of?  We’d rather keep on doing something the wrong way if it kind of works, instead of relearning how to do something the right way.  It’s that old saying we cling to, if it aint broken, don’t fix it.  But I think this is a bad way of thinking.  As we evolve as human beings, the way we do things should evolve.  If there’s a better way to do something, clearly, no matter if it makes us “worse” for a time being, we should do it.  But there is a road block, and a stubbornness we all have.  I know I do.  We throw up our hands, and give up all too soon out of laziness and fear, usually.  Instead of swallowing our pride, and trying the new way.  And sticking with it, come hell or high water.

This is probably one of the main reasons why we keep on doing the same things over and over, and never get better.  In relationships we have.  Perhaps a lot of times, we do it the wrong way, because no one has ever taught us how to do it the right way.  We just “wing it” instead of trying to learn how to do the thing right.   Maybe because the right way takes too much effort.  And opens us up to the possibility of failing.  But I guarantee you will never succeed at anything by doing it in a way that’s not the best way.  And if you can find the better way of doing a thing, you should try it, and do it, no matter how many steps back you have to take during the process.

Blond Comes Up To The Bar

Blond comes up to the bar. Hi, what can I get you? She says, what do you have for wine?  I say, we have one wine. A Chardonnay. She says, that’s it?  I say, yes, unfortunately. They don’t allow red wine in the building. …Expensive rugs. She says, a bit put off, fine. I’ll have the Chardonnay. 

I pour the Chardonnay, she takes it, and leaves, I help another customer. 

Two minutes later, blond comes back up, sets the wine glass down on the bar, says, this wine glass is dirty. I say, oh. I’m sorry about that. I grab another glass, make sure it’s clean, then pour her another glass of wine. She says, thanks. And leaves. 

Five minutes later, blond comes back up, sets the wine down, says, ew. I don’t like that. I say, ok. She says, do you have like a Michelob Ultra?  I say, yes. We do. I grab the Ultra, crack it open, set it down, then say, I want to apologize in advance that it’s flat. 

She says, what?

I say, repeating, I want to apologize in advance when you have to bring it back because it’s flat. 

She’s speechless for a moment, then smiles. 

Sometimes you have to say SOMETHING, you know?  

To keep your wits about you. 

Don’t Make Things Worse

I have a new philosophy on life.  Oh here we go.  I almost want to roll my eyes at my own words.  I feel like I’m constantly getting a new philosophy on life.  Honing in on what truly matters.  Something, one concept, one idea, that will sum everything up.  THIS is how you should live your life.  Something SO simple that cuts through ALL the bullshit.  It’s so refined, so clear, so concise.  If you follow this, well, life will be good guaranteed.

Anyway, TODAY, my new philosophy on life is to not make things worse.  That’s it.  You go through your day, something bad happens, fine, GOOD, it does, it happens, guess what?  DON’T MAKE THINGS WORSE.  Swallow your medicine.  No it doesn’t taste good.  No it hurts.  It’s embarrassing, whatever it is.  STOP.  It happened.  Move on, don’t make things worse.

Because let’s face it.  Bad things happen in our life, right?  Things don’t go our way most of the time.  I don’t know, maybe they do?  Maybe we just notice it when things go wrong?  Maybe 98% of the time, things go good, but we don’t notice that.  We just sure as hell notice it when things go wrong.

This year has been a huge transitional year for me.  Let me wrap it up in a nut shell.  When I was young, since I was 12 years old, I wanted to be an actor.  I worked towards that goal until I was about 27-28 years old, and then realized, at the time, that having a career as an actor, was not in the cards for me.  So, what do I do?  Time for career idea number 2.  I kind of stumbled into bartending, and did that for 13 years, and just last year, I got my real estate license, and figured, hey, I’m 44.  I can’t be a bartender for the rest of my life.  Why don’t I try doing real estate?  And that’s now what I’m doing.  But it’s not easy.  In some ways, it’s a lot like an acting career.  You wake up unemployed, every day, and you gotta get out there, and hustle your ass off, to book the gig.  And the competition can be fierce.

About a month ago, a friend of mine invited me to an AA meeting, and I went, and I’ve subsequently gone to three AA meetings, and, let me tell you, it’s an eye opener.  For one, I’m seeing guys in there I’ve served drinks to, which is kind of hilarious, I’m sure, from their perspective.  Think about it:  Finally you get the courage to put down the drink, to walk into an AA meeting, and you gotta see some bartender that got you wasted one time.  The irony is not lost on me.  But what I will say about the experience is I respect every last one of those people in the room, that had the courage to admit that they have a problem.  To get up, and tell a story about their life.  Things that maybe they’re not completely proud of.  It’s a completely inspirational place to be in, and I highly recommend it to someone that has a problem, and needs help.  But that’s the thing.  You could take the most normal, put together person, clean, sober, and invite them to an AA meeting, and I guarantee they will get something out of it, if they have an open mind.

And that’s why I thought, hey, this might not be a bad idea for me.  To go to an AA meeting.  I’m over 4 years sober right now, and this would be THE PERFECT TIME for me to start drinking, because I’m not bartending full-time now.  So I’m going to go in and do what is known as preventative maintenance.  I’m going to go in for a tune-up.  Let’s remember clearly why you got sober, Clint, and all the good things that have come out of it.  Let’s be on solid ground, so we can move on.  And, as I talked about in the beginning, LET’S NOT MAKE THINGS WORSE.  Because trust me I know things can get worse.  Oh yes.  They can ALWAYS GET WORSE.  You’re crazy if you think they can’t, my friend.  Because they can, and they will.

So what I do know to reiterate things is I give good focus when things go wrong.  Ok, this happened.  Now.  If I did this, would it make things worse?  It would?  Great.  Don’t do it then.  Ride out the storm, tomorrow will come, and things will probably blow over, because you stopped things before they could get worse.  Because, see, bad things are going to happen.  That’s inevitable.  That’s IN THE CARDS FOR ALL OF US.

So just swallow the medicine, man up, and move on.

And don’t do ANYTHING that might make it worse.

 

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Car Charger

I’m behind the bar, older woman sitting at it, wearing a white shirt, black vest.  I’m going to guess she’s in the service industry, just got off work.  Maybe she’s working later, perhaps?  I’m going to guess she’s done for the day.  She’s had a few.

She says to me, can you plug in my phone for me?  I look, she’s got her iPhone out, plugged into the charger already.  Unfortunately, the kind of charger she has is FOR A CAR.  You know, the ones that go into your ashtray lighter?

Let me go pull my car around, lady.  I’ll plug it in there.

 

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The Maytags Album Release Party

Yesterday, I get a text from an old buddy of mine, Mr. Dustin Smith.  We go way, way back.  For one, I’ve been watching him play music for probably 10 years now.  Super talented guy.  Great voice, talented songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist.  Then we started working together at the bar, and I saw another side of him.  Hard, hard worker.  Meticulous.  Organized.  Easy going.  Guy is a true inspiration, and has taught me a few things over the years.  I care about him a lot.

So he texts me yesterday, and invites me to his album release party at Wooly’s tonight.  You know what?  I feel like I haven’t seen a full on rock show for awhile now, I’d love to see Dustin again, so why not go to the show, hear some great music, and show my support?  I respond, I’m in, see you there.

Today’s been a great day, real productive.  There’s been a PILE of bags in my basement waiting to go to Goodwill, and TODAY’S THE DAY I’m going to take care of it.  We’re talking, I’ve been walking by this eyesore for 5 months now.  It started out small, just a bag or two, but then has grown exponentially since the beginning of the year.  But then of course, you do one thing, that turns into, I’M GONNA ORGANIZE MY ENTIRE FRICKING BASEMENT.  But I’m feeling good and motivated, let’s get it done.

I call up to my son.  Liam!  Can you come down here, please?  He comes down after five minutes.  Yeah?  Yeah, could you help out your dear old dad?  He says, no.  I say, c’mon.  Help me out here.  I want you to carry all of these bags upstairs, out to the car for me.  We’re taking them to Goodwill.  But…but…I’ve got to help Henry with his Leggo’s.  I say, that can wait.

Miraculously, he gets to it, and I keep on organizing on my end.

I pause work half-hour later, go upstairs, load up the car with the Goodwill stuff.  I finish, let’s go, boys, we’re taking a road trip!

The boys get in, we drive cross town to the Goodwill, pull up, everybody jumps out, I open up the trunk.

A nice lady comes out with a cart, we start loading everything in it.  There’s board games, clothes the kids have outgrown, a lamp, stuffed animals.  How do we accumulate all of this STUFF?!?  I look down, my 5 year-old son Henry has his hand in one of the bags, and pulls out a CD.  Oh here we go.  Henry, we’re giving that away.  I don’t think we even have a CD player in the house.  The case says it’s KIDZ BOP.  More of a reason to get rid of it.  He says, no.  I WANNA KEEP IT.  I say, c’mon Henry.  You’re not going to listen to it.  He gives me a frown face, holds the CD close to his heart.  He is not giving that up.  Whatever.  I guess we’ll keep the CD.

On our way back home, Liam my oldest son says, I want to hear this CD!  He’s holding up the KIDZ BOP.  You know the things we do for our kids, am I right?  He says, Look.  It’s got Who Let The Dogs Out on it!!  Not a terrible song, per se, but if I go the rest of my life without hearing that song again, I think I’ll be fine.

I give a begrudgingly, ok.  Give it to me.  He takes out the CD, and just at first glance, it doesn’t look like the KIDZ BOP CD, but a recordable CD.  Someone has scribbled something on the CD in blue Sharpie.  He hands it to me, I don’t really hesitate to look at it thoroughly, I’m driving, trying to be safe, I put it in.

It takes a moment to load in, the music begins to play, and it’s

Dustin Smith.

It was a bootleg copy of a Dustin Smith show a couple years back recorded at the Vaudeville Mews.  I remember the sound guy that had recorded it, was playing it over the PA system a couple days after they recorded it, and I told him, DAMN!  That sounds so good!  I gotta get a copy of it.

And it ends up in my CD player in my car THE DAY OF his album release show.

I love it when things like that happen.

Dustin Smith plays tonight July 29th with his band The Maytags at Wooly’s in the East Village, Downtown Des Moines.  Show starts at 8:30.

See ya there.

 

Kidz