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Unfiltered Story #260455

, , | Unfiltered | June 18, 2022

(I’m a bartender and the bar I work at has one of those punching bag games, the kind where you punch it as hard as possible and it gives you a score. On this night, a man, an amateur boxer from his stories, and a woman are playing the game)

Man: *obviously trying to impress the woman* HA! Look at that! New high score! No one here can beat that! Hundred dollars to anyone who can! *pulls out a $100 bill*

(A regular and I look at the score. I admit that it was high and would take a skilled person to beat. Note: This regular is normally the life of the party, making sure everyone has a good time. Lately, he hasn’t been showing up at all and tonight, he’s been quiet and sulking, and despite my efforts, hasn’t been talking at all.)

Regular: Why not? I could do with punching something today…

(The regular puts in his dollar, takes a stance that looks like something out of a Bruce Lee movie, all while the man is laughing at him, and punches the bag so hard I thought it was going to break. His score is about one and a half times what the man was, so he walks over, plucks the bill from the man’s hand and goes back to his seat. The regular is NOTICEABLY more chipper than I’ve seen him in weeks.)

Man: THAT DOESN’T COUNT! YOU’LL NEVER HIT SOMEONE WITH A PUNCH LIKE THAT IN A REAL FIGHT! DOUBLE OR NOTHING THAT YOU CAN’T HIT ME WITH THAT!

Regular: I get to punch two things in one night? Awesome! [My Name] Do you care if we do this in the field just outside? Or should we clear out further?

Me: Oh, please do it in the parking lot right over there! *points* I want to be able to see from this window.

Regular: Sounds good!

(Both patrons leave and the entire bar and I watch from the window. Regular dodges a few punches and doesn’t look like he’s trying to fight at all. Then catches one of the man’s hooks and, with what is now obvious to the rest of us is a practiced motion, delivers the exact same punch to the man’s face. After a short little while, he picks the man up by his arm, and carries him back into the bar and deposits him on one of the benches by the door. He digs out the man’s wallet and takes another $100 bill and walks back to his seat. The woman has moved from the game closer to where he was sitting.)

Regular: Man! You’d think a boxer would know what a counter-punch is! *noticing the woman* Hello miss! Can I help you?

Me: Um… I think this was the woman who was with that man you just placed on the bench.

Woman: Er… Yes. He was my date tonight… I was just wondering… is he going to be okay?

Regular: OH! I’m so sorry miss. I was stuck in my own head. I didn’t realize he was with someone. Yes, he should be fine once he wakes up. Um… Was he your ride? Are you stuck here? (This was before Uber/Lyft). Can I give you a ride home? *pulling out one of the notes he won* or please, take this and call yourself a cab.

Woman: Oh no! Please keep that for yourself. I can manage to get home myself. I just wanted to thank you. He was a nightmare, wouldn’t stop talking about himself and wouldn’t listen to me at all. I was dreading having to ride home with him!

Regular: Well then how about I buy you a drink with that guy’s money? Good things should come in threes! You don’t have to ride with him, I got to punch something, and I think the bartender deserves a big tip for what he’s dealt with today!

Woman: *laughing* Well I won’t say no to the guy who saved me from that! Do you mind if I ask why punching something is so good?

(The regular grew somber and slowly related to us that his long time girlfriend had died a couple of weeks ago in a car accident. The accident was due to a freak nature incident and he had no one to blame, so he had been drowning in frustrations ever since. The invitation to punch something as hard as he could was just what he needed to break out of it a little bit. I was so touched, I poured him a second beer on the house, which he drains immediately. He then reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out a small box and places it in front of us. The woman opens it to see what’s inside, and as you probably guessed, finds a beautiful engagement ring.)

Regular: Today is our anniversary. I was going to give that to her today. She lives nearby but works late. I used to stop in here to kill time before going to her place, that’s why I haven’t been around [My Name].

Woman: Is she buried at [Cemetery near by]?

Regular: Yeah… That’s why I’m here now. It just right to keep up the tradition, you know? Sorry, [My Name]. You might not be seeing much of me, anymore.

Me: Mate… You go and take care of yourself. A seat will always be open for you here if you need to talk. Though I will admit, I’ll miss the extra tips people mistakenly give me for your antics. *this gets a smile out of him*

Woman: *tearing up at this point* Do you need some company while you visit her?

Regular: *Thinks about it for a while* Sure, that sounds good. Would you like a ride home after? It’s the least I could do for you.

(She agrees and he pays out the tab and they leave. A couple of years later, which I wondered several times how he was doing, they come back in on the same date. The woman had a very familiar ring on her finger)

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