My bar is a home away from home for a lot of truckers. I can understand why, after being on the road five days a week I can sympathize with the need for companionship. Truckers are usually some of the most well behaved guys we have in the bar; however, it always makes me a little uneasy to see the eighteen-wheelers in the parking lot. I just hope that most of them don't get trashed in our bar and then head out on the road.
All of our bar staff appeal to a different crowd of customers. The frat boys tend to like Ellen, both Queenie and I have our share of regulars, but Savannah has the market cornered on truckers. They love
her. At some point during the night, her side of the bar tends to resemble a truck-stop diner, with six or seven truckers sitting in a row, drinking, hanging out, and talking amongst themselves about life on the road.
Carl was no exception. His M.O. usually went something like this: he would park his rig, come inside and drink for a while, then go sleep in his rig for a few hours, then come back
inside and drink some more until we closed, then sleep it off in his rig before hitting the road again. This usually happens three or four times a week. Sometimes he would show up at the local pancake house for breakfast after we closed.
Carl is quite the character. He always has some story about a truck-stop hooker that tried to take him for a whirl, he's always willing to have a shot with anyone, and is usually (as long as he's not drinking tequila) easy enough to get along with. Unfortunately for Savannah, he's just the slightest bit obsessed with her, which she usually just takes in stride.
"Savannah," he will usually grumble, years of smoking and hard living taking a toll on his vocal chords, "when you gonna run away with me?"
Savannah, true to form, will just laugh it off and continue on with her job, slinging drinks and trying to keep up pace with the madness.
A few months ago, Savannah brought her Dad into the club for his birthday. Carl just happened to be visiting as well, and from what she told me (I wasn't there) Carl kept her Dad cornered most of the night, recounting his wish to drive off into the sunset with his daughter. Savannah later told me although she was mortified, her Dad did his best to just laugh it off.
Things started getting a little strange when Carl began referring to Savannah as "Grandma" (no I'm not joking, either). Apparently, his kids had started to question where he spent all his time, and Carl would respond "I'm going to visit your grandma."
The lyrics to Steven Lynch's song "Lullaby" are flashing through my head right now:
Right after Daddy gets home from the bar
Visits his bookie, and steals a new car,
He'll drive to the street light and if Daddy plays his cards right
He'll bring home your new mommy tonight.
See what I mean?
Anyway, one night, about two weeks ago, Carl was visiting the club before he had to leave on another job. As usual, he came in shortly after we opened, drank for a while, then headed out to his rig to sleep it off before coming back inside. While he was out taking a nap, the phone rang at the front door.
"Hey, Savannah," Champ said, standing at the bar, "you have a phone call."
Savannah's head jerked up from fixing a drink. When you have a husband and two small children, phone calls at work usually aren't a good thing.
"Who is it?" She asked, face creased with worry.
"It's Carl's daughter," Champ responding, doing his best not to laugh.
"Oh you're fucking kidding me!" The mixture of emotions on Savannah's face was priceless, part irritation, part anxiety, mostly just irritation, though.
"Go answer the phone, Savannah," I said, always in the mood to observe some drama.
no," she responded, shaking her head. "I don't know what she wants, but I'm not going to deal with it right now. You know his kids refer to me as Grandma?"
"Yeah," I said, "you've told me that before. Just answer the phone!"
Savannah shook her head, defiantly.
"Well," I offered, "do you want someone to answer it, pretending to be you? That way at least you'll know what she wants?"
Savannah's face lit up. "Yeah," she said, almost instantly, "that would work."
I pulled Ellen away from the bar and we headed to the front door to practice our acting skills. Unfortunate, by the time we got there, Carl's daughter had already hung up the phone.
"Hey," Savannah said when I got back into the bar, "do me a favor and go outside and wake Carl up," she requested. "I want to know what's going on."
I walked out to the front and headed to the rig parked around the side of our building.
"Don't go over there," a voice said, seemingly out of nowhere.
Duke, you scared the hell out of me." I had forgotten that Duke was working the parking lot that night, and was sitting in his truck parked in front of the entrance. I headed up to his driver's side window.
"Savannah wanted me to come get Carl for her," I explained.
"Well," Duke responded, "he said not to be bothered until after one. Besides, his daughter is in the cab with him.""Oh, this is priceless,"
I thought to myself, heading back into the bar. I went back inside and filled Savannah in.
," Savannah exclaimed, her voice rising enough octaves to shatter glass. "What the hell is she doing here?"
"I don't really know, but Duke won't let me wake him up yet."
Carl came back inside a short time later, sans daughter, but I was so busy by that point that I never found out why she was up there in the first place.
The next weekend, after the Christmas holiday, as I was sitting at the bar, enjoying a pre-shift Red Bull, Savannah came over to where I was sitting.
"Oh my God, Waitress," she started, "did I tell you what happened last weekend?"
"No, I responded, taking a drag of my cigarette and flicking it into the ashtray.
"Well," Savannah began, recounting her evening, "Carl came back inside and wanted me to go get a cup of coffee with him after work..."
Apparently, when Savannah told him she couldn't go (she had to leave for Texas in the morning to visit family) he became quite upset, and started throwing the fact that he tips her well in her face. Savannah finally agreed to have breakfast with him, never actually intending to, mind you, but she figured by the time she got done with cleaning the bar and counting her tips he would be long gone.
She was wrong.
When she left the bar that night, she informed me, Carl was waiting for her in his rig. She said that when she told him she had to go home, he became even more upset, and decided to follow her. She told me that she had to floor it on the interstate, taking an exit that didn't lead her home and backtracking just to lose him.
"Holy crap, Savannah," I exclaimed, "what are you going to do the next time you see him?"
"I don't know," she responded. "Maybe he'll calm down a bit after he gets back from this run."
"Either that," I said, "or he'll find another Grandma for his kids."
"Don't I wish," Savannah said, laughing.