You leave a place you worked at for 5 years and, nine years later, you realize that despite all your bitching at the time, you learned a thing or two.
And you assume against all things rational that the really special people you met there, the people who made the whole stint worth it, are still there, day in and day out, doing the things that made them special and passing on the wisdom you still quote to anyone who will listen. Wisdom like “We don’t write about them because they died, we write about them because they lived” and “It’s always a good day for soup.” He dreamed of being a reporter and fulfilled that dream the old fashioned way: paying his dues, honing his craft and being the very best at what he did.
After a particularly tough day, when he got slammed with a flood of “must-write” obituaries of important people, or when he chronicled the life of someone who died too young and before they could become someone important, or when he had to interview a surviving family member who was in no state to be interviewed no matter how much genuine compassion and interest Jerry displayed, he smiled (he was ALWAYS smiling no matter how tough the day) and he would tell us “It’s a two-beer night,” breaking his usual habit of having a single Yuengling at the bar in the basement of our building before heading home.
I no longer drink — my inability to smile through a tough day always trumped my ability to have “just” a two-beer night — but, at least symbolically, tonight is a two-beer night for me.