Yesterday evening I went to the Brickskeller which is just a short walk away from my home. The snow was falling and the scene was almost postcard worthy. I took a picture with my blackberry phone, but it didn’t do it justice and its not even worth posting here.
The Brickskeller is somewhat of an institution in DC. For more than 50 years it has been providing one of the most comprehensive selections of beers ever assembled under one roof. If you are a beer connoisseur, it is a must visit.
They have this awkward bar seating in the cellar. The bar stools are connected and set quite close together and there is no standing allowed in the bar area, so you usually end up sitting next to someone there and due to the close proximity that I mentioned, you are pretty much guaranteed to meet those sitting next to you.
I hadn’t a bit more sat down when the man sitting to my right asked, “Is it still coming down out there?” I acknowledged that it was still snowing and settled my bag at my feet and took my coat off. After browsing through their catalogue of beers, I settled on a Murphy’s Irish Stout.
Since John had already made a little small talk with me, I decided to talk to him and see if he would accept my $10. At first, the former military serviceman told me that “it sounds too good to be true.” I assured him that there was no gimmick. He smiled and replied back, “Just when you thought that you had seen everything, something like this comes along.” He took the $10 and sat it on the bar in front of him and placed my business card on top of it.
I explained that I wanted to ask him a few questions for the blog and he shrugged as if to say, ok. I found out that he was originally from New Jersey, but now lives in Kansas City, MO. He is in town presumably for some government or military related meetings. I find out two interesting things through the course of the conversation. First, he is a fellow Pittsburgh Steeler fan! We chatted a little bit about our disappointing season and the future opportunities of the former coach, Bill Cowher. John ventures a guess that Cowher is waiting to see if a job opens up at Carolina – close to where he lives. I bet he is right.
The second interesting tidbit about John is that he said he once ejected from an F18 aircraft. I didn’t get a lot of details or circumstances related to the incident except that he was off the west coast of the US and the plane was going to crash so he ejected and landed in the Pacific and withstood a few frigid hours until he was picked up. I can only imagine what it feels like to have crashed a $42 million plane. I used to work at a bar in Central Pennsylvania called Pagliaro’s Trattoria. If you broke some of the bar glasses, they would reduce your paycheck by the amount of the glasses. I asked him if they took the $42 million out of his paycheck, and he just sorta laughed and said that those are considered part of doing business. Heck, one plane isn’t too bad, didn’t John McCain crash four or five planes?
My glass is now half full and our conversation comes and goes like a dog falling in and out of a slumber on a lazy summer afternoon. I ask him what he is going to do with the $10 and he says, “Probably buy you a beer!” Well that would certainly be ok, but I told him he could do anything he wanted with it. He did end up buying me a beer, a nice beer from the Pennsylvania brewery called Stoudts. The left over money he said would go toward some coffee.
John takes off and I finish my beer that he bought me. I ended up talking to a nice guy named Doug from South Carolina who works for NOAA. I got a quick education in some meteorological and geological related issues. He was in town for some meetings that were part of a fellowship he was doing. Today he was to visit the Holocaust Memorial Museum…if you haven’t visited this museum, I recommend it. It is terribly depressing but well done in my opinion.
Tomorrow I will make my third trip to the DC Unemployment Offices again to try to straighten out my unemployment benefits. Let’s hope this time I can finally get everything resolved.