I've waited on people who've been fired, and I've waited on people who've been dumped, but up until recently I'd never waited on someone who'd experienced both in the same day.
Enter Greg, a likable enough fellow who thought he was going to enjoy a quick lunch then skidaddle. But alcohol had greater plans for him. Through one simple, unintentional sentence from yours truly, Greg and I became pals. Friends. Drinking buddies.
"How are you?" I began.
"Oh, okay," he said.
Now normally I'd never, ever utter this follow-up question. I don't even think my own mother has elicited a subsequent inquiry of this nature. But I found something so sullen and pitiable about Greg that I offered...
"Yeah," he said while studying the shape of the tortilla chip before him. "I just got fired."
"Fucking lucky bastard," I said. And then, "Sorry. Need a drink?"
"Well," he contemplated. "...Sure. What would you drink if you just got fired?"
Water. Because the latter will inevitably be caused by the former.
"I blackmail the bartender," I said, "So I can get you the strongest margarita you've ever had."
"Perfect," Greg replied.
I returned to the table to discover Greg on the tail end of a phone call that did not sound consoling or uplifting.
"My girlfriend just dumped me," he said.
"That BITCH," I replied. I figured it would have been an inopportune time to warn him that the chapstick mark on his glass was from my requisite sip.
"Ever been dumped?" he asked me.
"Please," I responded. "More often than I've been asked out."
"Ever been fired?" he asked me.
"Fewer times than I should have," I said, "but enough to know the sting."
"You drink at work?" he asked me.
"Should Armenians be chained to a swing set for eternity?"
He gave me a puzzled look.
"The answer to both is 'Yes,'" I said. "And I'd be proud to drink with you."
So Greg and I went mano-a-mano. We discussed various break-ups, firings and the silver lining beneath them all. I learned that his now-ex was named Sarah, that she was from Texas, and that she was evil.
When I informed Greg of my endeavors as a writer, more specifically this little corner of Heaven, I made him a drunken promise that, in the sober light of morning, I am no less pleased to fulfill:
That's for you, Greg. Stay strong. And Sarah? Please, please come visit me.