On my way to work this morning I was reminded of a very valuable lesson: there is no such thing as a free drink. No, I wasn’t drinking at 7 am, but when I ran into a guy who used to work in my building at my previous job, I wished I had been.
Have you ever seen someone you didn’t want to see and then turned your head in the opposite direction from them as though that suddenly made you invisible? Yeah, that’s what I tried to do as I sat on the 3 train thinking of all the cars and people in the world this fool had to be sitting in mine. At least he was sitting in the same car until much to my disappointment he recognized the right side of my face and walked over to me to inquire about me living back in the city, what I’d been doing since I left my old place of employment, and of course, was my number still the same.
Thank God I could say “no,” and then I could say “yes” when he pushed, “so I can delete your old number?” Yes, you absolutely can because you should have never had it, I thought. And then just as I said a quiet prayer thanking the sweet lord above that he hadn’t asked for my new number, yet still wondering why his phone was dangling in his hand, I heard the dreaded question, “so are you going to give me your new number?” Thought I wanted to say hell emm-effin naw, I settled for a “no, I still have yours,” because although I despised this fool I still remembered he was cray cray and I couldn’t trust that the two passengers who were actually awake and alert on the train would have my back in case he flipped out on me like he did the one night I decided to take him up on his drink offer over a year ago.
In my defense, it was a super late work night when Harlem World, as I’ll label him in this post, offered to take me for a drink; and I really was in the mood for a beverage so the thought of one for gratis was appealing even if the company wasn’t my glass of wine. We were the only two people in the building on the Friday night and my thought was “why not?” although I could clearly come up with at least a dozen answers to that question today. My first indication this was a bad idea was when my suitor hit me with a random, “so when are we going to stop playing?” question. Playing? I asked as if English wasn’t my first language. He then proceeded to detail the chemistry he thought existed between us and how he just knew I was playing hard to get, and we really needed to be together. Because it was entirely too late for me to stroke an ego in the name of a free Cosmo, I had to let old boy (literally) know that there was nothing between us but a potential cool association—and thankfully a bar stool.
Pause for Jekyll-Hyde transformation.
This is the point in the night when HW, who was 40 by the way, proceed to pull that tired line about how he doesn’t usually do this for women, except his point wasn’t to make me feel special. It was to make sure I knew I was lucky to be in his presence because he doesn’t have to take women out for drinks to woo them. At this point I was annoyed so I had no choice but to ask him, “then why are you,” as I reminded him I’m in my 20s, and he ought to know how to talk to and approach a woman much better than that by now. Then I was informed of a fact no one but the voices in this man’s head knew. Apparently he runs Harlem, he gets money, and he’s always been his own boss. I could have let him run with the fantasy but I couldn’t resist reminding him that I knew his current boss in our building, as a former delivery man he surely didn’t found the parcel company known as DHL, and though he may run around in Harlem he certainly doesn’t run it. Essentially the only thing he’d ever been was an employee and a fool and I had to make sure he was aware of that. After asking if he needed me to pay for the drinks (because I’m ignorant like that), I thankfully went on my merry little way, repeating never again, you should’ve known better, and it wasn’t worth it in my head.
Unfortunately the “lesson” didn’t stop there. On Monday morning, said fool’s boss came up to me and said I heard you had a date Friday, but before I could even object to the notion, he told me he only knew because Harlem World got jumped by the very people in the neighborhood he thought he ran and was in the hospital getting stitches in the back of his head. Jokingly, the boss asked me why I sent goons for his employee, and though I wished I could take credit for someone knocking his old self off his high-horse, I had to give credit to the universal principle of karma for that one. And when I was hit with the “why didn’t you check to see if I was OK” text, I had to break it down. Um, I knew you were alive and that was the extent of my concern for you as an acquaintance who happens to occupy space on this earth.
Unfortunately, that still didn’t stop a random phone call this past winter to let me know that he still thinks about me, and it didn’t stop him from rolling up on me today like he would ever get another chance to T-Pain me and buy me a drank. If I could take back that night out with him last year, I would gladly deduct the $12 or so he spent on me from my bank account if it meant I never again had to deal with his crazy up close and personal. That night I learned a valuable lesson. Rarely is a free drink ever worth the non-monetary price you pay for it.
Have you ever had free drink drama?
* Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.
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