My favorite barman

It’s exactly 12 o’clock in the afternoon and, once again, I’m homeless and stranded. Stuck in a small town in the east of Spain. The train I was about to board turned out to be full. Apparently this isn’t South America anymore and you actually have to plan ahead here. Damn.

The sun is high in the sky, silently prodding me in the direction of the nearest pub. The voice inside my head—often my best friend—gently reminds me, You’re stuck in this town because there’s somebody amazing that you need to meet. Go find that person.

So I walk. Since I know all good people can be found within earshot of free wifi, I step inside the first place boasting such a service. Locals are found standing at the bartop, smoking, drinking coffee, and reading the paper. The video lottery machines sing in the corner, beckoning people over to exchange a few minutes of their lives for the chance to dream big.

And that’s where I meet my favorite barman.

He’s a balding man, looking to be in his mid fifties. Eager to please, he makes his patrons feel right at home with croissants, chocolate breads, and classic charcuterie being presented with every drink, all on the house.

He looks like an Elliot to me.

But he doesn’t like me at first. And he has good reason to feel that way. I sat on my laptop for 6 hours and ordered only a Coke. This man is trying to make a living here, and my 6-hour soda isn’t furthering that mission. What kind of grateful patron acts like that?

Fuck that guy, he thinks. Just another irresponsible kid who missed the train.

Fast-forward. It’s the morning after, and I find myself sitting back at the same table. In the same pub. Waiting for the same train.

I notice the outlet that provided my laptop with precious electricity the day before has been taped over. My friend, Elliot, or at least Maybe-Elliot, doesn’t want me here. But he has standards, so he brings me a free croissant with my coffee all the same.

It’s 10 o’clock in the morning and I don’t want to be the first person in the pub to start drinking. Locals filter in slowly. A coffee here. A biscuit with the morning paper there.

Finally, my icebreaker struts inside and orders a cold one.

“I’ll have one of those as well, please,” I say across the bartop.

My favorite barman smiles. He presents a local brew, perfectly poured. And then he removes the tape from the electrical outlet.

Silently, he welcomes me back.

I leave him with a good handshake and a tip twice the size of my bill when I finally depart.

I’ve spent 12 hours with Elliot over the past 2 days and he’s never said a word to me. But his warm smile says more than enough.

God bless. My favorite barman.