Charlie and I used to meet pretty often at Station 23; we had a couple of beers and tried to fix the world in our own way; nothing wrong with that, it was just our way to escape reality for a while.
It was in 1982, when I was 20 years old and had a job in what could be called “road maintenance” but in reality was a less than minimum legal wage job were I was to walk dirty roads carrying a shovel and filling pot holes with dirt from the sides. These kinds of jobs were created by the government at that time to reduce the statistics about unemployment.
Charlie; hired for simple tasks around the house of an unknown family, felt at his 27 years of age the pass of time, not because of being old but rather the insecurity of seeing years go by without getting anywhere. He always started by complaining about his employers and finished criticizing the country’s economy.
I remember him, thin, not too tall, dark skin and big brown eyes; always dressing a red, running suit, old tennis shoes and sun glasses that he used to hide behind of most of the times.
Beer was always warm, but Station 23 was the only place in that small town where you could have a place to talk in privacy surrounded by screaming kids. Beer was the only drink we had since we didn’t have much money, but still it gave us the satisfaction of feeling big!
Many times I asked myself why poor people drink their little money, and then I could understand something; I, in such low level employment felt like the smallest expression of a human being, while drinking beer I could feel like an executive talking about an important business.
Culture wasn’t a problem, talking with Charlie about politics, economy, history, science, etc. At that moment we had the power: we asked for a beer; we had the culture: we talk and give opinions about everything under the sun; we had unconditional friendship: Charlie and I; and a brilliant future ahead of us: we just needed to be discovered!
We never gain anything, never got any new conclusion to our conversations, we just got out all the frustrations of life. We used to laugh a lot making fun of everything and everyone around; their face, their clothing, or the way they walk, anything was good just to have a brief moment of relaxation. Now I understand how much insecurity we had about ourselves. How far away it seemed to have a decent life from the possibilities that our jobs used to offer.
Station 23, the only pub in that little town was our place of meeting, our reunion area, our escape from reality. Seated at a small table, surrounded by drunk, screaming kids and very loud music, Charlie and I found a place to revive the human spirit and find new forces to keep fighting for a better future. A place where together helped each other to cope with everyday problems and fight against the adversity to start feeling again as human beings instead of low cost cargo beasts.
Station 23 was the place where we met; we hated it, but never skipped a reunion, it would be impossible since at that time we almost didn’t have any other reason to live.