Johnny is an old school bartender that I have had the pleasure of working with. Great at his job, he has amassed a great many regular customer over the years, loyalists who cherished the opportunity to sit at his bar and shoot the breeze over a few pops. One of those regulars was an old timer named Fred. Soft spoken and kind Fred was a veteran in his late 70's. Fred looked forward to his Thursday night routine, sitting at the bar during Johnny's shift, talking about the "good ol' days", women and old cars he's loved. Bars can be unpredictable but one thing that Johnny could count on was that every Thursday night Fred would be sitting in the same bar stool, drinking the same Miller Lite and keeping him company during his shift. In return, Fred kept his weekly routine and he knew that he could rely on Johnny to save his favorite bar stool, listen to his stories and keep the cold beers coming.
It's not difficult to imagine the impact of Covid on both Johnny and Fred. John watched as the pandemic unfolded and more and more of his bar business dried up. Fred had to abandon his weekly visits with Johnny and quarantine in his apartment for fear of getting sick. Eventually, the bar would close due to the pandemic leaving both Fred and John sitting home alone on Thursday nights. Johnny had his wife to keep him company though. He was young and healthy and even though he hated wearing a mask, it allowed him to leave the house to get groceries or other necessities. Fred, however, did not. he was older and not as healthy and strong as he used to be. His apartment was small and he was lonely.
As the pandemic pushed on, Johnny was fortunate to have so many of his regulars reach out, texting him with well wishes as restaurants and bars were required to close, forcing many to go out of business permanently and leaving so many individuals unemployed. Some of Johnny's customers even used Venmo to send him a weekly "tip" in lieu of being able to sit at his bar and enjoy his service. It was their way of helping. These random gestures were not lost on Johnny, he was grateful and considered himself very fortunate.
Touched by these acts of kindness, Johnny gathered up his "tips" and set off for the grocery store. With a cart full of bread, milk, eggs and deli meat he raced to the other side of the store in search of one more thing, a six pack of Miller Lite. In the parking lot Johnny searched his phone's contacts for Fred's number. The old man was thrilled to hear from him and Johnny explained that he'd like to come by and visit. Sadly, Fred explained that his apartment building was a senior living facility and that visitors were not allowed during Covid. Johnny explained that if Fred met him in the lobby, he would just drop off something outside and be on his way. Fred agreed and gave Johnny the address. When John arrived he could see Fred through the large glass door waiting in the lobby. Catching sight of the bags full of groceries, Fred's shoulders dropped and even his mask couldn't hide the smile that spread across his face. Johnny set the bags down in front of the door and stepped back so Fred could safely retrieve them. When Fred saw the six pack of beer sitting on top, he looked up, his eyes filling with tears. He hesitated for a moment and then pulled two cans from their rings and passed one to Johnny through the door. The two men stood on opposite sides of the glass and raised their cans to toast each other. Johnny, with his can in the air, shouted so Fred could hear him through the door, "It's Thursday!" and with his eyes still wet with tears, Fred mouthed a simple silent "Thank you".
In the spirit of kindness, table manners would like to donate meals this month to anyone who might be struggling as a result of the covid pandemic. If you or someone you know could benefit from a meal delivered to their home, please email details to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will do the best we can to get as many meals out as possible. No questions asked, just simple acts of kindness inspired by the story above.