The woman sat at the bar, her tears streaming down her face as she tried to smile. She always feels a plethora of emotions at the bar everyday.
Greg Hammond dealt with everything from brawls to rowdy clientele during his time as a bartender in Washington state. He assumed he’d seen everything. But then she walked in.
Hammond had encountered many unusual customers before, but none as bizarre as this one. The woman stepped into the bar, looking exhausted and sad. She ordered two beers from Hammond and looked for a place to sit.
There is a law in Washington State explaining that customers are only permitted one drink per order, but it became clear to him that she had no intentions of abiding by the law.
Hammond calmly laid down the law to the woman, and that seemed to keep her at bay, in the beginning. The woman came to the bar daily, and it was clear that the ‘one drink per order’ started to annoy her as the days went by.
Whenever she received one drink, she insisted that she wanted another one. Hammond refused every time, and that upset her so much she walked away. He, however, knew that she would be back.
The following day she came back, but this time with a friend. He had army regalia and a crew cut, making him much more menacing than the women.
She finally received her two drinks from Hammond. He was starting to have a nagging suspicion about the enigmatic woman’s true objectives.
It frustrated Hammond that the woman figured a way around the one drink rule. He looked at the soldiers with annoyance every second he could.
Hammond was taken aback when the woman’s companion left quickly after serving the two. As she sat alone and glanced at the second drink, tears began to well up in her eyes.
Hammond’s mind was racing a mile a minute. Each of the scenarios he imagined in his mind appeared to be worse than the last.
Working in the bar industry for years had taught him that when people experience troubling times they seek comfort at bars. In spite of this, the woman simply stared at the second bottle. Her odd behavior was becoming increasingly unsettling.
The woman eventually got up to leave. She turned around and glanced at the bottle once more, her eyes still filled with tears.
Hammond could see that she had endured something painful which is why she seemed so bitter. He’d seen that look before in the eyes of other customers. It almost never had a positive meaning. Hammond started to feel concerned about the woman.
The woman and her friend returned to the bar the following day and Hammond was stunned. Every time the woman gets the second beer, her companion leaves and then she just stares at the beer.
Something was different though, she had a satchel with her this time. Something about the manner she kept opening it and peering inside only added to Hammond’s concerns.
The bar was famous for being a family establishment, and it can be found inside a Buffalo Wild Wings.
Hammond, who had a family of his own, looked around at all the families inside with their children while stealing glimpses at the strange woman. He couldn’t help but think she was a threat.
The woman sat in her regular spot. She kept flipping between glancing at the bottle and the mysterious item she kept inside her purse with tears in her eyes.
Hammond was torn between wanting to treat a customer with respect and ensuring she wasn’t a threat in any way. He was starting to feel the strain.
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.
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.
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.
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, management of the 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.
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.