What Would You Do?


Original Oil Painting by:  Dion Archibald 

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?


15 Responses to What Would You Do?

  1. skinbad says:

    I’m woefully ignorant in dealing with drunks–unless they’re just posting poetry on a blog. What would you have done if he would have gotten in a car? I would guess the RIGHT thing to do would have been to try to talk him into waiting for a cab or giving him a lift so he gets home safely. Yea, he’s probably going to take a swing at you and throw up on you or in your car. I wouldn’t have done any better than you. Probably worse.

    How many people leave bars/restaurants in that condition each day? We probably don’t really want to know.

  2. Pupster says:

    If he had headed for a car, I would have got the license plate to the 911 operator…that was the plan. No way was there any talking to or reasoning with him.

    Getting on a bike just kinda blew my mind, I suspect he had already lost his car and or license by the way he has shit-faced at 2:00 on a Wednesday afternoon.

  3. Pupster says:

    In my experience, most drunks either want to cry on your shoulder or fight you. Sometimes both. This guy was a crier, but he was talking about his own death, so he was in the very dangerous “nothing left to lose” mind-set. ON a bicycle. *sigh*

  4. BrewFan says:

    I wouldn’t have had the Makers Mark. I’d go with a nice scotch; 12 year old Cutty, maybe.

  5. geoff says:

    You could have at least helped me get on the bike.

    That’s a toughie – I’m afraid I would have been a pair of those 100 eyes: reluctant to get involved, and surprised/relieved that you did.

  6. kevlarchick says:

    Poor guy. You did what you could. He could have decked you or collapsed into your arms. I’m sure you can handle either.


    Please call us the next time you have a late lunch. We’ll join you.

  7. Pupster says:

    Virtual drinking buddies. Cool idea…

    Do you think Michael would go for an open thread where all us internet friends got our favorite bottles out and chatted amongst ourselves while we drank in the relative safety of our own homes?

    Wait. That’s every Friday. Never mind.

  8. HayZeus says:

    Wait. That’s every Friday. Never mind.

    Well that explains a few things, then. I had already figured that WP was well into his cups half the time but I wasn’t so sure about the rest of you. Now I know.

  9. skinbad says:

    What would you do?
    What. Would. You. Do?

    I’m playing hearts with three hearts maniacs for my Friday night entertainment. I’m the fourth because our wives all get along. The ladies talk and the men go off to the barn/workshop with their caffeinated beverages. We’re maniacs I tell ya. I usually get slaughtered. Oh well.

  10. Elzbth says:

    You did good, Pupster. Most of us wouldn’t have done that much.

  11. BrewFan says:

    Please call us the next time you have a late liquid lunch

  12. I mighta grabbed his wallet.

    Just to, uhm, identify him. Yeah.

  13. HayZeus says:

    You did good, Pupster. Most of us wouldn’t have done that much.

    It’s true. I probably would have gotten annoyed at the phone calls and just found another watering hole. 😕

  14. Pupster says:

    I’m a bit of a worrier, I was sitting there while this was going on thinking this guy was going to plow into a school bus…some of the elementary schools in the area let the kids out around 2:30.

    It was for the children. Besides, I had already ordered my steak.

  15. Lipstick says:

    Yes, for the children.


    hehe, no, you did a good thing. He could have gotten into a car and killed somebody.

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