I had a late lunch yesterday at a local steakhouse, and I sat at the bar. It was around 2:00 when I got there, and the lunch crowd was thinning out. I ordered a steak and a salad and watched closed-captioned ESPN and half-listened to the country music playing throughout the restaurant.
There was a guy, dressed business casual, about my (middle) age sitting across the U-shaped bar from me, who was talking on his cell phone in between giant gulps from a long-necked bottle, and was getting pretty upset at whoever was on the other end, or whatever it was he was talking about. He ordered a shot of tequila with the next beer. Made another call. Drank a beer. Made a call. I couldn’t make out his conversation over the music, other than a few f-bombs in every sentence, but it was pretty obvious he was having a bad day.
By the time my salad arrived, he had started singing to himself, not to the music. He made another impassioned call, ordered another shot and beer, and started to cry. I eyeballed the bartender, and when she came over, I told her that the gentlemen across the bar had probably had enough, and it would be a good idea to call him a cab…she agreed and rushed off toward the kitchen. She returned a few minutes later with a disgusted look on her face. When I asked her if she had a plan, she replied that her manager was with the health inspector and could not be disturbed.
The guy asked for another round, was refused, and said something about em-effers going to kill him, he was going to die tonight. I heard that clear enough. He stumbled off his bar stool, threw some money down, and started weaving his way toward the door. I told the bartender to call 911. She froze.
I left my seat and started to follow him out, looking down long enough to dial 911 on my cell. When I looked up, he had made it to the vestibule of the restaurant. The phone rang. The operator asked what was my emergency. I watched the guy pick up a bicycle in the vestibule, and clumsily walk it outside to the sidewalk. I hesitated. Is it illegal to operate a bicycle while intoxicated?
I went ahead with my call, I explained who I was, where I was, and what was going on. I followed the man outside, where he took three tries to throw his leg over his bike. I described him and the bike and gave the operator the direction he was heading in across the parking lot. I felt stupid.
The operator was curt, but not rude. She asked me to remain available at this number, she would send someone to check him out. I said thanks. When I came back into the restaurant, it felt like there were 100 pairs of eyes on me. I walked to my seat. The bartender was still frozen in place. I set my phone down, looked her in the eye, and ordered a Makers Mark, neat.
I told the bartender, in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, that he left on a bicycle. She seemed relieved, and poured me a generous tumbler of bourbon. I called my boss and let him know I was taking the rest of the day off.
No one ever called me back. After my lunch, I drove around the area for 30 minutes, but I never caught sight of the drunk, crying bicycle man. What would you have done?