I feel like a creeper just telling this story. But I want to be honesty, even when it’s ugly.
I was always a lonely drunk.
Eating lunch alone was my routine. I’d leave work before noon and head to my favorite restaurant. I actually had 4 different places so I didn’t appear too creepy.
The pattern was simple. Start with several beers, watch the bar TV, return some emails on my phone, eat lunch, then drink some more. The alcohol made me an outgoing kind of guy, especially when one of my favorite girls was behind the bar.
That was the part I really enjoyed – the attention of those women.
It’s so cliche that I’m embarrassed. I’d flirt, laugh at their jokes, and turn on all the charm a 30-something drunk guy can muster. It was mostly innocent fun, they all knew I was married. Most knew that I worked for a church.
My tips kept getting bigger. I always wanted to be their favorite customer, actually feeling jealous if other people took their attention. It got out of hand. If the waitress was nice, I’d calculate a 400% tip. If I was too drunk I’d default to $100.
That’s one way to make friends.
A few would kiss me on the cheek. Others would ask me if I meant to write $10. Occasionally the manager would personally verify that I had chosen the amount. One of my favorites was on work release from prison, so I started tipping her in cash because she didn’t get to keep her paycheck.
To be fair, I tipped the one guy waiter the same. He made me feel cool, even if I prefered the ladies.
It wasn’t long before little rivalries broke out whenever I walked into the restaurant. That always made me smile. Then girls started passing me their schedule, “Hey if you’re downtown Friday come see me. I’m working the bar for lunch.”
What was I thinking?
I’m not sure why I remembered this story today. I ended that pattern when I quit my office job to work from home. Even before that, my girls kept leaving for other jobs. Small town waitress is not a long-term career. I never like the replacements.
For me it was just innocent fun. I never said nasty things. Only one of these girls ever saw me outside of work (that’s another story).
Being a big tipper made me feel powerful, important, and a little less lonely.
In reality, my relationships were a mess. You can guess my marriage wasn’t right. Nothing dramatic, just two people who stopped making time together — and I was an alcoholic. Beyond that, all my close friendships were mostly gone. I had neglected everyone in favor of drinking alone.
I don’t have a moral to this story, just another footnote on my drinking days. Now that I’m in recovery, I’d like to learn how to build healthy relationships.
Looking back I don’t feel guilty, just a little sad for that guy.