Joe's Oasis and Grille

Have a seat at the bar, enjoy a tall cool one and listen to Joe the Bartender kibitz with our cast of regulars. Joe discusses everything from behind the bar, from favorite drink recipes, new gadgets, raising rugrats (or is that rugrat raising?), home-improvement, sports, and, of course, politics. So, welcome! The bar's open!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Keep Your Head In the Game Till the Whistle Blows

It was going to be a busy night. The bar was full, not a barstool available at Joe's Oasis and Grille. On busy nights like this, I don't usually have much time to kibitz with the regulars, but when I slid a draft Dos XX in front of Harv O'Connor, I couldn't help but notice that he had that expression on his face like his favorite pet had just croaked. And since his favorite pet is not a frog, I figured it must be something serious.

"What's on your mind, Harv?" I asked.

He took a healthy gulp of Dos and licked the amber-tinged foam from his frowning lips. "Lost that Wheeler deal," he said.

Harv is in sales. Quite a lucky guy, if you ask me. He seems to do fairly well in his phone sales gig, and he gets to work from his home. Two kids, gorgeous, sweatheart of a wife. I know it can be tough on him at times; straight commission, so the guy eats his kill. His wife is a stay-at-home mom. I remember one time he threatened to knock Booney Davis's teeth out when he said, in his Rumple-slurred cockney way, "Oi, Harv. I'd be a bugger if I'd let my wife stay at home all day with 'er rump on the couch." Knocking Booney's teeth out presents a challenge, since Booney has no teeth. Harv tells everyone here that his wife has the hardest job in the world, staying home with the kids all day.

I tend to agree with him, because kids are basically brain damaged.

"Gee, sorry to hear that, Harv. I know you've been working hard on that for the last, what, three months?"

"Four. Gi'me another, will ya, Joe?"

I drew Harv another beer, this one on the house. It wasn't for charity. Harv bounces back pretty quick. But I know losing deals like this can put a strain on him, his business being the sole source of income for his family. But I know he'd have it no other way, his wife staying home with the kids. Princess time is a non-negotiable item.

"So, what are you gonna do, Harv?" I asked, sliding the fresh draft in front of him.

"I don't know, Joe. Start over, I guess. You know I was brokering this deal with one of my largest clients. Man, what if I just lost all credibility with them?"

"Sounds to me like this is actually more of an opportunity to show your client the value of your tenacity in bouncing back."

"Yeah, but the market has gotten so much more competitive over the last couple years. Wheeler-type opportunities get snatched away like so darn fast now-a-days, we can't keep up."

"My point exactly. Your client wants to be on the winning side, the one doin' the snatching way, this is your opportunity to show your client that you're the guy with the tenacity to make it happen for them."

"I just feel like I just dump-corded all my credibility with them, that's all."

"Oh, you think your client has never tasted defeat once in a while? What makes them so unique? I think they'll understand tenacity."

I saw Booney Davis's decrepit, wiry frame slither through the crowd and approach the bar. He nudged his way to a seat that had just become empty next to Harv.

"Oi, g'day, Joe. Oi, Harv. How 'bout them Steelers, aye? Oi, Joe, dram of Guinness and a snort a Rumple, there's a good lad, aye."

I left to get Booney his drinks, and when I returned I saw Booney had taken Harv's mind off his sales deal. They were engrossed in the big flat panel behind the bar, watching ESPN highlights of the NFL championship games.

"Oi, those Steelers are goin'a be tough to stop, aye?" Booney was saying. His toothless mouth nearly inhaled the shot glass as he dumped the shot of Rumple down, then nuresed his dram of Guinness.

"I don't know Booney. You know I'm a big Steeler fan, but anything can happen in a football game. I mean, I thought the Steelers had it wrapped up in that Colts game, but look what happened in the last seconds. All Bettis had to do was take a couple steps into the endzone, and the ball gets popped out from under his arm. Then Nick Harper picks it up, and, man, he was gone. TD, and the Colts would have won. I gotta admire Roethlisberger, back-peddling the way he did, catching Harper by the ankle and stopping him at the last second. That's the way you do it ... play it out ... play keep your head in the game till you hear the whistle blow."

"Steelers 'll still be tough. Tag 'm SuperBowl champs."

"I hope so, Boon," Harv said, looking back up at the TV. "But remember, every game starts off at zero-zero. Anything can happen."

I eased up to Harv and leaned over the bar and whispered in his ear, "Not bad advice, aye, Harv? Tomorrow, when you go back and start digging back in for your client, the game re-starts at zero-zero. Anything can happen."

Harv got a smile on his face and that gleam of tenacity in his eye again. "Keep my head in the game -- and play it out till the whistle blows."


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