Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Some of Bend's old time doctors meet at Jake's twice a week for coffee and talk. They are quite a group of guys. As a matter of fact, two of them operated on me when I was 11 yrs old. One as the surgeon and the other as the anastegeologist. Judy sets them up and then pretty much lets them go on their own so they can just enjoy each others company. They know where the coffee pot is and get their own refills.

I usually stop and say Hi when I see them and when I stepped into the room last week, I noticed a younger man sitting off to the side just by the back door. At first I thought it was just the ride for one of the guys who lives in a near by retirement home. As I checked out the buffet and salad bar, I noticed the docs talking to the man and realized that they did not know him.

I stepped back into the room and walked up to the fellow and asked him if I could help him. "I dont think anyone can.", he drunkenly slurred, "I am just getting out of the cold." He went on to explain that he was on his way home. I told him that I would get him some coffee to warm him up and get him back home. He reluctantly came with me up to the chairs by the cashier. He was so drunk that he stumbled most of the way. I offered him some food and he turned me down so I poured him some coffee to go and told him to wait while I brought my van around.

When I came back in he was missing. I asked the cashier and she said that he had gone back in with the docs. This time he was more persistant and so was I. "I am going to stay here.", he declared. "No", I said, "you are coming with me. I am taking you home.". "What if I dont want to go?", he slurred. "You dont have much choice here.", I countered as I lifted him out of the chair and forcibly walked him out to the car. "Are you telling me to get the hell out?", he complained, "I aint hurtin no one.". "I am just trying to help you out.", I explained as I helped him into the van.

I quickly got in and put the car in gear before he could get back out. "I have a bike out back.", he said. I drove around the building and spied his bike against the wall. I wondered how in the world that he could have ridden it in his state. After pulling up beside his bike I reached over and buckled his seat belt. He struggled trying to figure out how to take it off as I quickly threw his bike in the back and got on the way.

"Names George.", he said, "Are you Jake?". "Some people call me that", I stated and left it at that. "You own this place?", He asked surprisingly. "Yes", I explained. "And you are giving me a ride?", he asked somewhat confusingly. "Yes", I returned.

"Well, that explains why you have such a fancy ride. Dual air bags and leather seats and all." As he talked about the various parts of the inside of the van, He flung his coffee cup right and left spilling coffee all over those same seats and I was glad that they were easily cleanable. "It must be great to be this rich!", he explained. "Well, George, I am not rich but yes, I am fortunate to have this vehicle. Now, where can I take you in it?", I asked. 'I dont have any place to go." he said, "Could you take me down to Safeway or something. I want to stand on the street corner with a sign or something. Not that that works. No one ever gives me any money." He then turned and asked me for a job. I told him that I had no openings and didnt forsee any. He said, "No one will hire me.". I couldnt hold it back and said, "If you came to them sober maybe they would consider you better."

He sat back splashing more coffee as he sat back seemingly insulted by the remark. 'What did you say your name was?", he asked. "Actually, my name is Lyle. But so many people call me Jake that I dont argue with that.". "That's Stupid", he said, "Why do they call you Jake.". "Because I own Jake's". "Well, my name is still George and I dont hide behind other names." I didnt argue with him. Besides, the more agitated he seemed to get, the more coffee got spilled.

I knew where he needed to go and began driving towards the Sheppards house where I knew that he would get the best help around especially in the situation that he was in right now. As I turned on to Revere, he began to complain. "Safeway is the other way.", he said. "I know that. I am taking you to the Sheppards House. Have you ever been there before?". "I met the lady who runs it once.", he said. "So, you know Linda. Great, then you already know someone there.". "I dont want to go.", He complained. "Take me down to a bridge or something. Or do you know any tent cities. I will go there.". "Sorry, George, I am taking you where you need to go.", I countered.

He argued and got more agitated the closer we got and I was happy to see a few guys around as I pulled into the parking lot. I quickly got his bike out of the car and leaned it up against the wall by the other bikes. "Hey, someone will steal it.", he complained. I wondered why he didnt worry about that when he put it out behind my place. I escorted him in as he splashed more coffee on the way in. I wondered if he had drank any of it and could not recall one swallow.

I brought him in and introduced him to Gary who was at the computer ready to log him in. "I dont want to go in that computer.", George complained. Gary had been through this before and told him how they had to keep control of who all was there. "I dont have a lock for my bike. Its just a stupid wallmart bike that I got off a guy in Redmond for cleaning his parking lot. I quickly stepped in and said, "George, I will get you a bike chain if you agree to stay." He seemed perplexed and Gary told him that a simple yes or no was all that was needed. George said ok and I told him to stay with Gary and I would take care of everything. "I am going outside with you.", he stated. As I drove off, I saw him take his bike and I was not sure whether to follow through on my part or not but decided that even if he was gone, someone else could probably use the chain.

I searched around a local store and got a chain that had a pretty easy combination thinking that a key lock would not be smart. As I drove back into the lot, I noticed George outside talking with some of the guys.

"You came back.", he seemed surprised. I showed him the lock and he said, "That wont work, I need a key lock. I wont remember anything.". I told him that he would probably lose the key and he fished out a set of keys that looked like bike lock keys out of his pocket. "Where is the lock that goes with those keys?", I asked. "Hell if I know." Came the answer back. "Why dont you take the tag that has the combination and put it with your keys?", I asked. "Cause I might lose them too.", he countered.

I told him that I was taking them inside and giving them to Gary. If he wanted them he would have to get logged in. When I shook his hand and said goodbye, he stated, "My name is still George." And then laughed at his own joke. I left him outside talking with the other guys who were trying to get him to go inside to get help.

A couple of days later, I ran into Linda and asked her about George. "I met him.", she said. "I was getting him signed in and had him sit down and fill out the forms." I was helping someone else out and then noticed that he was gone. I picked up the sign in sheet and he had only filled in one thing. Where we ask what he feels his life is like right now, he wrote...."It is in the toilet"." I never saw him after that." She said.

I havent seen or heard from George since. I guess it just validates the old saying 'you can lead a horse to water, but you cant make him drink'. I am sure that I will bump into him again someday. Next time, I will to put a towel down on the seat first however.

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