Several years ago I was assigned to a seaworn old vessel and had a trip from hell. Things broke down, the amounts we were supposed to load changed while we were loading causing shut-downs and frustration, there were communication errors and in general I didn't get a whole lot of sleep.
To add to things the tour was at the end of July and it had been hot and miserable on deck. The Air conditioners were also balky. To add to that, the loads and discharges were on-deck intensive, meaning the entire watch was spent on a hot steel deck.
I started thinking about an ice cold beer when I got off.
Not a routine Joe's Bar beer out of a refrigerator, but one that had been chilled for a couple of hours in a bucket of ice or stored in the freezer for a while.
My relief was due in at noon and there was a two hour drive to my car and I knew the number of a local sports bar near where my car was parked.
I called and the bartender answered. His name was Kevin and I told him that I'd give him ten bucks if he would put a Heineken in the ice and get it good and cold for me. He agreed.
A few hours later I showed up and mentioned that I wanted to the beer I had ordered over the phone and the bartender reached into the cooler, grabbed one and popped it open.
When he put it in front of me I told him that it wasn't what I had ordered, got up, turned around and started to walk out while he protested. I turned and said, "I offered you ten bucks for an ice cold beer you didn't come through. The beer is $2.50. You just blew a $7.50 tip because you were too lazy and stupid to give the customer what he wanted."
I left and decided that the only way to get something done right is to do it yourself. I went straight to a liquor store I have done business with for years, bought a six-pack, a cheap cooler, two bags of ice, loaded the cooler up and drove off.
I wanted that ice cold beer.
I knew it would take a while for the beer to get ice cold and had about six hours to drive. I started rolling. It was the alternate old US route I sometimes take when I have extra time and feel like driving through farm land.
After about an hour and a half I realized that the only place I was going to be able to sit on my ass in air conditioning was probably going to he when I got home. I kept on moving for another hour or two and enjoyed the view through farm country and the beginnings of mountain country.
Then I saw it on the side of the road. It was an afternoon kid's baseball game, it looked like a Little League game of some sort so I pulled in to check it out.
Pony League, the kids were a bit older.
There was a baseball strike of some sort going on if I remember. I have never liked watching professional sports, yet here were teenagers playing their hearts out for the love of the game.
A seat on the stands was free and hot dogs were a buck apiece so I grabbed a couple and fished a beer out of the ice chest.
It was in the afternoon so the sun wasn't quite as high but I put on my flop hat and grabbed a seat in the stands and popped the beer open. Being in the hills made it cooler, too.
It was a gloriously icy cold beer and went incredibly well with the heat of the day and the hot dogs. It was heaven. After a couple innings I got back in my pickup and continued home feeling refreshed.
When I got home a few hours later I opened another but it was far from being even remotely as good as the first.
What has reminded me of this little incident is that I am getting close to the end of a tour that has had ups and downs and think that I want me a nice, ice cold beer when the tour is over.
Seeing it's Sunday go here for your weekly sermon from Father Piccolo the Gospel According to Piccolo
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