The other day an old man told me, “Kid, I never give in to the rah-rah of St. Patrick’s day.”
Said, “It’s amateur night,” and then he went on to explain, “Real drunks don’t need a holiday to drink, fight, and destroy their lives.”
Said, “We do that on a daily basis.”
Said, “March 17th doesn’t mean anything to me.”
When I mentioned about him being Irish, he laughed.
Told me, “I’m Irish everyday….I don’t need to put on a green shirt to remind me of that!”
He said, “That comes from this side of the pond not the other side. And the same thing goes for your corned beef and cabbage….that’s American /Irish not Irish/American.”
Tommy came over in his late teenage years. He never spoke about his youth in Ireland. He only told me of his father.
“He had the gene,” Tommy said, and by gene, he meant alcoholism.
“My old man was the worst kind of drunk around. And when his eyebrows folded down on ya, it meant he was coming in, and the only way to stop him was to beat him or kill him…and you had to, otherwise he would beat or kill you.”
Tommy never mixed words. He is always blunt. He’s quick to the point and quick to defend himself. He’s no bruiser, but he’s not a push-over. His nose was bent from the brawls of his youth, and when asked about his crooked nose, Tommy joked, “This was from going to too many family get-togethers.”
He has dark black hair, with patches of gray and light blue eyes. Occasionally, his eyes are bloodshot, but that comes from lack of sleep, not drinking.
“I never touch the stuff,” he explains.
Then he smiles.
“You know…it’s an amazing thing this sobriety. Ever since I walked away from the bottle, I have never woken up with a bloody nose, a black eye, or scraped knuckles. I never lose my car and I never wake up on a park bench and wonder how I got there?”
Tommy brought his grandchild to work with him not long ago. His eyes gleamed with pride and when Tommy introduced me to his grandson, he made sure the boy opened his sweat jacket to reveal his football jersey.
“See that, me boy? The New York Giants…if you’re gonna root for a New York team, then make sure it’s the right one.”
Then he told me, “So you can go take your New York Jets and shove’em up your ass!”
Tommy’s wife never saw him drunk. Neither did is kids, and nor will his grandchildren.
(I like that)
You never hear about people like Tommy because he’s not newsworthy.
We only hear about tragedies. We never hear about the people that wake up each morning, go to work, put food on the table, and pay their bills.
They don’t break laws and they don’t cheat. They contribute to the lives of others and it seems to go unnoticed
There are good people in this world—but for some reason—we spend more time talking about the bad ones; we spend more time slowing down in traffic and watching the accidents on the side of the road.
You would never hear about my friend Tommy and you would never know about the three boys he put through college and the daughter he put through nursing school.
He never hit or cheated on his wife. Since his sobriety date, he has never been arrested—he never takes cash under the table—cuts corners—or breaks his word…
You would never know about the pain in his joints after so many years on a construction site, or how after he worked a full shift, he rushed to sit by his wife’s bedside when she was in the hospital last year.
When we talked about this, Tommy said something, which made me think.
He told me, “You don’t get extra points for doing what you’re supposed to do.”
Strange though….most people think they should.
But then again, most people aren’t like my friend Tommy.