From 1982 to 1993, many of us remember the theme song from the highly rated United States television show Cheers. The sitcom theme lent its famous refrain, “Where Everybody Knows Your Name,” as the show’s tagline.
Near to my home is a small restaurant and bar on the corner of Main Street that reminds me of Cheers. I stop by once in a while, but given my travel schedule, I’m hardly a regular. The restaurant has some small tables and a bar with ten seats. The owner is a pleasant person—compassionate as well—for she has put up with regulars for many years, including a local guy named Bill.
I know only a little about Bill. He is a WWII veteran, and I heard he was divorced. He lives with his daughter, and he loves dogs. During his professional life, he did something in the printing business. I don’t know why he has nowhere else to go. I don’t know why, by his admission, he has parked himself at this restaurant bar for the last several years of his life. Moreover, like many other regulars, I don’t even know Bill’s last name.
There is a certain amount of comfort to this local restaurant and bar, I must admit, but make no mistake: it is a business with the concerns of most any business. Bill has made himself a “fixture.” He doesn’t just walk in and grab a fast bite, but each evening may stay for three or four hours or even more, fiddling around with his mobile device. He is not “a bum.” He dresses neatly, buys a beer or five, and loves the soups and cheese fries.
Regulars talk to him and address him by his first name. He calls them his “friends,” but the friends stop in for a beer or a snack on their way to someplace else. He makes corny, occasionally inappropriate jokes, and they roll their eyes but put up with him. Over time, he has come to think of the space as “his space.” He will put his jacket over the end chair at the bar as he walks around talking to people.
Worst Feeling Ever
Just before Christmas, Bill was walking the usual six blocks or so from his daughter’s house to the restaurant. He did not see a raised slab of the sidewalk. He tripped and landed on his face. His hand partially blocked the fall. A stranger called 911; the paramedics quickly came, but Bill angrily refused to go to the hospital.
I saw him as he came into the restaurant. His mouth was bloodied, and there were a few cuts on his face. He was limping. His hand was bruised, and he could not even grasp a glass. As for all of his “friends,” all of those who exchange a comment or two with him every evening, not one asked him what had happened; not one. The look on Bill’s face said it all, “It’s alright, and I am used to being ignored.”
I thought to myself, “This is outrageous.” Just as I went over to talk to him, a young woman wearing scrubs beat me to it. She called an ambulance and convinced him to seek medical attention. The ambulance quickly arrived, and Bill quickly left through the front door without incident.
A week later I saw him at the bar on his usual chair. He had a cast on his hand. I asked about the incident before Christmas. He said they did a CT scan on his head, but they concluded he was not concussed. His hand and fingers were broken.
“I’m sure glad that woman told me to go to the hospital,” he said. I asked him who she was. He said he hadn’t any idea.
Your Inner Circle
Is there someone in your life who sincerely cares about you? Is there someone who accepts you and nurtures you; talks to you and will comfort you if you take a fall? Is there someone who makes you happy?
Are most of your friends on Facebook who represent a digital space on a digital page? Are they friends who say hello to you in the restaurant or the health club or the grocery store but never invite you to do things together? Are they friends for a season or reason?
Who are your friends? Do they treasure you and do you treasure them? Or are they virtual and fleeting; “fly-by” friends who stay at the surface and are never allowed to see what is underneath? A true friend is someone who sees the pain in your eyes while everyone else believes your smile.
Look at the circle of your friends and ask yourself are they positive, empowering and adding goodness to your life? There is no substitute for good friends, but always beware of imitations. As we grow up, we realize it is less important to have lots of friends and more important to have real ones. Sometimes your circle decreases in size but increases in value. Friendship isn’t about whom you’ve known the longest. It’s about who walked into your life and said, “I’m here for you,” and proved it.