A Bartender With Experience
She sat at the bar and managed to smile despite her tears. She had been staring at the bottle daily and was overcome with several emotions – some good and some sad.
The bartender from Washington State, Greg Hammond, had experienced many bar brawls and trying customers throughout his career. He thought he had been prepared for everything, but that changed as soon as she stepped through the door.
Against The Law
Hammond had encountered many ‘strange’ customers before but nothing like this. One day a woman entered and ordered two different beers. Wearing fatigues and a pained expression, the other customers gave her a wide berth.
Although Washington State law only allowed patrons to order one drink at a time, it was soon apparent that she was not going to follow this law.
He Was Curious But Said Nothing
Hammond’s calm explanation that she was not allowed two drinks at the same time was initially enough. After the same routine for days, the mysterious woman grew visibly dissatisfied.
Offered one drink, she still begged for the second beer. When Hammond politely refused again, she stormed off—the defiant look on her face telling him he hadn’t seen the last of her.
She Came Back With Someone
The next day she returned with a friend. A bullish-looking man dressed in army regalia and a crew cut, he was even more intimidating than the woman had been.
Hammond was obliged to serve her two drinks now. He was beginning to develop a foreboding feeling about what the mysterious woman’s true motivations were.
Her Colleague Leaves
Slightly annoyed at the fact that she had found a way to circumvent the bar’s one-drink policy, Hammond stole glances at the soldiers whenever he could.
Shortly after serving the pair, Hammond was surprised to discover that the woman’s companion had left. She sat alone now, just staring at the second drink, tears starting to brim in her eyes.
Her Behavior Got Stranger
Hammond’s mind was doing cartwheels. Every scenario he ran through in his head seemed worse than the one before.
His experience had taught him that troubled people often sought solace at bars. This woman was content to just stare at the second bottle though. Her strange behavior was becoming very unnerving.
Something Was Amiss
After what seemed like hours, Hammond noticed the woman finally wake up to go. Before leaving, she turned and stared at the bottle again.
The expression on her face was worrisome. To Hammond, she seemed mournful and even bitter. He had seen that kind of look in other patrons’ eyes before. It usually never meant anything good.
The Bartender’s instincts
Like clockwork, to Hammond’s dismay, the woman returned with her friend the next day. After he ordered the second drink for her, he left again. She stared at the opened beer at first.
This time she had a bag with her though. Something about the way she kept opening it and looking at something inside only heightened Hammond’s worries.
He Needed To Protect Them
The bar itself was located inside a Buffalo Wild Wings. Despite being a restaurant and a sports bar, it was well-known for being a family-friendly establishment.
A family man himself, Hammond stared around at all the families inside with their kids as he stole glances at the enigmatic woman. He could not help but wonder if she was dangerous.
She Brought A Bag
The woman just sat there as usual. Tears in her eyes, she kept switching between staring at the bottle and whatever she kept inside her bag.
Hammond found himself stuck between wanting to respect a paying customer and needing to ensure that she wasn’t a threat of any kind. The tension was beginning to eat at him.
It Got Worse
After a while, her colleague returned and escorted her out. Hammond watched as they stood in the parking lot arguing. She looked furious. Brushing off her colleague, she got into her car and sped off.
Hammond was relieved but vowed that if she ever came back, he had to do something. Sure enough, the next day, she returned.
The Truth At Last
She was alone this time but ordered two beers as usual. Staying calm, for the first time, Hammond cautiously asked why she needed two.
Opening her bag, she showed Hammond a picture inside. It was her “brother” who had been killed in Iraq. The second drink was for him. It was his favorite beer and a toast to his memory.
He Helped Her
Finally realizing that she was just a soldier paying tribute to a fallen friend, Hammond faced a new dilemma.
He now felt compelled to reciprocate her actions; a family man himself, he wanted a simple gesture to show how much the sacrifices of service personnel were truly appreciated. As he got her bill ready, an idea occurred.
Honoring The Fallen
Speaking to USA Today, Hammond explained that he approached his manager and asked, “Is it okay if we take care of that beer?”.
Upon hearing the woman’s story, the management of Buffalo Wild Wings did not hesitate to fulfill this request. The woman was so touched by the gesture, she left a note on the receipt before leaving.
An Everlasting Tribute
Checking the receipt, Hammond was touched by her message, which read, “Thank you. An act of kindness goes a long way.”
Hammond could not bring himself to toss the beer. Instead, he displayed it on a counter. Placed beside an American flag, it is now a perpetual toast—a tribute to the bravery of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
A Similar Occurrence
But Hammond’s story isn’t the only one in the country. A little way down the road, a similar event took place.
This one involved a war veteran as well. The only difference was that he was a sixty-year-old man only looking to have a peaceful evening with his wife before four men cut everything short.
Working At The Bar
Our story takes place in a small town just outside Washington State. Billy had been working as a bartender for six years at a local bar and grill when the incident took place.
The protagonist of this story is war vet Jeffreys, a man who knows his way around every possible scenario life could throw at him. Yet nothing could’ve prepared him for what happened that evening.
Jeffreys Durant, or Jeff to the locals, had served in special forces for decades, going on tours in Vietnam, Iraq, and various classified locations.
Although he was in his late sixties, he was still a strong man with a sturdy back and a powerful spine. He did not only command respect and admiration but sometimes fear from those who knew what he was capable of when provoked.
Jeff lived a quiet life with his wife of forty years, Ana. All their kids had left the nest, starting their own lives and blessing the two proud parents with many grandkids.
Jeff stayed at home enjoying cable tv documentaries and the occasional brew while Ana ran an antique shop in town. As far as they were concerned, life was perfect.
Jeff and Ana’s days were quiet ones. They would spend time at home in the mornings before Jeff went to hang out with an army buddy for the afternoon and Ana went to the shop.
Afterward, they’d convene at the bar and grill for dinner. They had done this for nearly forty years, given that they’d met at the same restaurant before going on their first date.
How About Some Lessons
In the years that Ana spent with Jeff, she’d known him to have a fiery temper. This was augmented by Jeff’s ability to handle any confrontation, physical or mental, although he always chose a peaceful resolution.
But when backed up against a corner, he usually left the opposing party with a lifetime of hospital bills and lessons on manners. Ana always prayed that it never got to that point.
His Favorite Place
Among all the places that Jeff liked visiting in town was the bar and grill. As such, he’d made friends with everyone there, from the cooks, customers, and servers to the bartender, Billy, who had only started working there six years ago.
But despite Jeff’s reputation as a special forces vet, he was also known for his easygoing nature-something that the three men who approached his table might have mistaken for weakness.
A Good Day
Jeff had spent the day as he usually did on the day that the incident occurred. After breakfast with his better half, he drove her to her shop before spending the day with his best friend.
As was his habit, he hopped back into his truck and hurried to pick Ana up so they could have dinner at their favorite restaurant. He had no clue what was waiting for them there.
His Favorite Cap
Jeff had worn his favorite army cap that day, an accessory he rarely left the house without. Ushering Ana to their favorite table near a window that overlooked the evening-eaten town, he sat across from her and waited for their server to come.
She did, and Ana ordered their Thursday special, a steak with asparagus and mashed potatoes. But the two wouldn’t taste their food before the three men showed up.
The server was walking away with Jeff and Ana’s order when the three men walked in. They were tall and burly, easily overshadowing everyone in the restaurant.
They wore leather jackets with biker gang insignia on their backs and carried motorcycle helmets. From the moment Jeff saw them, he knew the night would end differently for him and his wife.
At The Bar
The three men sat at the bar, their tattooed arms rippling with muscles as they supported them against the wooden counter. They asked for their drinks in loud growling voices, slapping each other’s backs as they joked and laughed.
Billy served their drinks and proceeded to open a tab for them. He had no clue what the three men were about to do.
Jeff and Ana’s server brought in their food, but on her way past the bar, she snared the attention of one of the men. He stared at her wildly, his burning gaze following as she placed her food on Jeff and Ana’s table.
His friends seemed to notice him staring because they joked about it and asked him to behave. But as they laughed, their eyes landed on Jeff. And that’s when it happened.
They Lock Eyes
One of the men stood up. His eyes stuck on Jeff’s cap before he lowered it to his face. He tapped his friends’ shoulders and jutted his chin at Jeff, and in unison, the three started approaching.
Seeing everything unfold before him, Billy was already lunging for his phone to call the police and possibly the emergency room. And he wasn’t doing it for Jeff’s sake but the three men’s.
The men started conversing with Jeff in hushed tones. They pointed at his cap as they continued talking. But out of nowhere, one of them pulled up his shirt, prompting Billy to come rushing in.
But instead of finding a weapon on the man, Billy found him displaying a military-style tattoo on his chest. The other two men also had similar tattoos, showing that they were servicemen. But things were only getting interesting.
Jeff rolled back his sleeve, and on his inner lower arm was a similar tattoo akin to the ones on the three men. He stood up in a flash, and the men stepped back in practiced unison as if they were in a tactical formation.
They saluted Jeff, thanking him for his service and the legendary status he’d left back at the special forces. They insisted on paying for his and Ana’s dinner, stating that without people like them, the country wouldn’t be as great as it was today!
Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.