Friday, May 1

Drunken Army Vet With a Bad Attitude Tests My Patience

Sometimes, you can't really win, so it's best just to play along. I got a Lyft ride call recently for a guy, we'll call him G.I. Joe, who called almost as soon as I accepted the ride. He started complaining about how he'd been dropped off and was waiting at a bus stop. I told him I just got the call, so it wasn't really my fault. When I got to the bus stop, he was smoking a cigarette and drinking booze out of a tumbler. Luckily, he threw out the cigarette and got in, but he didn't have to tell me (though he did) that he was blind drunk at noon. 

He decided he wanted me to change his ride to the beach, even though he was set to go home. In hindsight, I suppose I should have just taken him home, especially when he started out with a negative comment about my physical appearance. "You know what? You're really f'n hairy." I am, actually, but we're not best buds, so he shouldn't have gone there. I let him get away with it once, but like most drunks, he wanted to say it again, at which point I told him we was really f'n rude. When he laughed at that, I figured I could just go ahead and say whatever I wanted to the guy, not that it would help too much. 

"The last driver was a real b----," he told me. Guessing at the truth, I asked, "Why, because she kicked you out for being belligerent?" Mostly, there wasn't a lot of banter. It was him telling his story. 37 years in the army. Green Beret. And rich; richer than I could imagine. Plus he'd even been a preacher and was now teaching at some school. College, I hoped, since I'm not sure he should be teaching high school kids. 

But his main story, and the on he kept coming back to, was his wife of 45 years. She's the reason I didn't kick him out. Apparently, she'd been killed a couple weeks before we met. He said it was some kind of meth addict or something, maybe in a car accident. I don't know and could not later corroborate the story, but that's what he told me. And that he had not had a drink in over 30 years, but since his wife died, he had done nothing but drink, thinking every day about dying. 

I get it, and I did say I was sorry for his loss. However, we're all judged by how we behave in the here and now, and his crude, drunken behavior was such that it was hard for me to feel sorry for him. That's saying a lot, since I've had to deal with drunk friends before. I suppose it's a testament to why Joe should not drink. 

But he seemed smart enough, possessing a decent vocabulary beyond swear words and put-downs. In fact, he seemed to want to test whether or not I understood the words he used, like "surmise." I told him that I surmised from his behavior that he was drunk. At one point, he tried to offer me some kind of bracelet for strength. I set it on the seat next to me, and he then swore at me and made me give it back. Realistically, I would not have worn it, and beyond that, I didn't want to be the person to whom a potentially suicidal man gave items away. 

Luckily, it seems that the Publix where he made me stop would not sell him any more alcohol. He left his backpack in the car while inside in order to make sure I didn't escape. But he'd also told me several times how rich he was, and that he wanted to hire me for the day. He seemed worried that bars at Neptune Beach would be closed because of Covid-19, though, which is probably why we stopped for a bottle. Right before we stopped, he doubled down on his intelligence, asking me to guess his IQ. I told him it was probably a positive integer, and he seemed to imply it was at or above that of Albert Einstein. 

Really, I don't doubt that he was fairly smart. I am also sure he loved his wife. He might even have been an interesting person to talk to when sober. Heck, he was even good at being a drunk jackass. After he was denied more booze at Publix, he must have decided against bar crawling where the bars were closed, so I was told to once again change the ride to head back to Joe's condo. Luckily, he slept most of the way home after telling me I needed to play music from the 60s or 70s. He fell asleep to BTO's "You Ain't Seen Nothin Yet." I listened to those and some other lyrics on the ride to his condo and felt a little sorry for the drunk bastard, assuming he rocked out to that song with his deceased wife back in the day. 

But then I got to the "$500,000" condo he said he'd bought for his dearly beloved wife (which I later valued at $110,000 to $150,000 on Zillow). And right after I tell GI Joe to call his kids or the VA to get some help, he tells me he's going to call AA. "Alcoholics Always," he says. And then he tells me there's a Vietnamese lady who does his cleaning who he can talk to. And that she gives good head. 

I really tried with this guy. I don't know if he was really bereaved or not. I really do hope he gets better. Like one fan of BTO said on the Youtube channel that had the song that was playing as GI Joe fell asleep: "Let's not lament how music is different. Let's just celebrate that it was once like this." I hope Joe can remember the good times in his life rather than believe it's all over now because his wife is gone. I told him that people do care about him, hoping it was probably true.

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