A lady walks up to a bar. Note I said walks up to, not into, a bar But I am definitely a lady. I am soft spoken and quiet with an accent and don’t usually sit by myself at a bar. Okay another correction, this it is not a freestanding bar, it is part of the Big Bowl restaurant in a shopping mall in suburban Edina, MN. It serves alcohol, soft drinks and food.
I did not want food but I love their hot ginger tea. I took a seat and placed my order watched CNN whose main story was that a six-year-old girl had been handcuffed at school for throwing a temper tantrum.
I was so horrified that my quiet, don’t talk to strangers attitude deserted me and I commented to the young female server behind the bar, “What is this country coming to when we handcuff our children because of a temper tantrum?” The worst part was that they were discussing this on CNN as if it were actually a debatable point. Should the police handcuff a six-year-old? Our discussion moved to the high jinxs of the secret service in Colombia and the parties that the government watchdog agency held in Vegas.
A woman with long auburn curls who sat to my left and was working while eating her lunch, joined in. I told them about being in a car with a friend in DC who was arrested, handcuffed and thrown into a paddy wagon, because they believed she had not paid a traffic ticket. Apparently this is common because Molly, the server, said the exact same thing happened to her mother, who was stopped and jailed in Minnesota.
I drank my tea and we stopped knocking the world and talked about living in Minnesota and how it is a pretty good place to work and play. We talked about travel in New Zealand, Venice and Rome. We talked about jobs. Molly’s job was to take orders at the take out counter. She told us that one evening a very drunk man sitting where I was sitting, pulled her by the pony tail and wanted more than take out.
Laura shared her job, which is a wine sales representative to restaurants around the Twin Cities. How, I asked, did you get a job like that? She went to college and waited tables for five years. Then she got a real job in an office. On day one she knew it was not for her. On day two she was positive. So she did what we are all told to do, she networked. She called a wine distributor she knew from her waitress days and said I want your job, how do I get it. Within days she was hired. Five years later she still loves it. We talked about the symmetry of life and doing what we love. We laughed a lot and got pretty rowdy.
I realized as I finished my tea and my tongue puckered from the ginger, that as a writing teacher once taught, travel is not to some far off land, it can be right in the neighborhood. One just needs to be open to talking and noticing.
I asked the server how much I owed and he answered, “It comes to 0.00.” I thought I had misheard. “It’s on the house. Have a great afternoon,” he said as he handed me a fortune cookie. I said goodbye to him, Molly and Laura as if we were old friends. Perhaps we were. We had connected the old fashioned way over food and conversation and now really “like” one another.
I opened the fortune cookie in my car and laughed again. “If at first you do succeed, try to hide your astonishment” This lady may make a habit of walking up to or even into a bar……
Books about Venice
A Thousand Days in Venice – by Marlena De Blasi
Vivaldi”s Virgins – by Barbara Quick
Miss Garnet’s Angel – Sally Vickers