My Friend Edmund is a Legend!
McGinley’s Irish Pub was surprisingly empty that nice June night. Surprising because it was a Friday, a night when you would expect Anchorage’s only downtown Irish Pub to be filled with students wanting to perpetuate the Irish stereotype. Also surprising because it was the summer solstice, and if anything was a night to be out on the town it was then. It was my first summer in town, and if I was going anywhere on the weekend it was McGinley’s. I bellied up to the bar, and I broke into a conversation with a couple of gents sitting there as well. One turned out to be a guy up temporarily to help work on a local hostel; but the other worked for the Alaskan Railroad that I learned was Edmund. Edmund was as regular at McGinleys as you can get. He was treated there not like a ‘good customer’ but one of those that are a fixture to the place as important as anyone to keep the bar alive. After a bit, he made me the offer that he clearly had made many times over — to help get a good rate for anyone taking the railroad. We exchanged phone numbers, e-mails, etc.
Then – mostly due to me living on the other side of town – I didn’t get back to McGinley for nearly 6 months. While I talked to him a little a month later by e-mail to get a good price for my family’s vacation, by not going into McGinleys I basically didn’t talk to Edmund for that whole time. Every so often, though, I would get a text checking in on me. When I did start stopping in again just before my departure from Alaska, there he was – not treating me like someone who never shows up to see him, but someone who he considered a friend.
Mind you there are people like that that can make you feel uneasy, but for anyone who met Edmund you would find him to be a very genuine guy. I say all the time that the best part about Alaska is the people — well, to be honest, the worst part was people too but not really. Alaska, especially Anchorage and especially tied to my line of work, had a whole demographic of people who were focused on perception, image, and ego – where it was more important to make others think you are something you aren’t. What was great about Alaska was those who didn’t fit that demographic were genuine in a way that was so easy to love. Edmund was like that – whether it was when he talked about work or talked about faith he seemed to tell me what he felt, truly felt, and that I’ll take any day. But of course genuine people in a society of those who aren’t are destine to run into frustration. I was inspired in part to write this today because he is facing those kind of frustrations today – and I am sure there are loads of people out there that would rather there be more Edmunds in the world. It’s like the old Dr. Seuss quote goes:
“Be who you are and say what you feel; because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
Of course, there are a lot of people who are genuine in the world. So what makes Edmund a legend? Well .. it’s because he is Edmund.
Let me start with a funny little conversation I had with my friend Laura sometime last summer. We were talking about things to do and we played with the idea of taking the Alaskan Railroad somewhere. That’s when I spouted up:
“We can get a good price on the railroad too — I know this great guy who works for the Railroad always loves to help people out get a friends and family deal.”
She came replied: “I know this guy who will do it. He’s really easy to find too.”
“Did you find him at McGinley’s?”
“Was it Edmund?”
Then there was some random guy I was chatting with. I mentioned I liked McGinley’s and he said “Yeah, that’s fun place. There’s folk down there that are great to talk to. One of them works for the railroad.”
The Anchorage bar scene seemed like an extended family, but you check with some of the bartenders Edmund was part of that family too – even if he didn’t stray too far from McGinleys.
The thing about certain people … they leave an impression. These are the people who aren’t just genuine, but genuinely good hearted and genuinely friendly. My guess if any of you who never been to Alaska visits Anchorage, visits McGinleys – you may run across Edmund and find that he is all and a bag of chips. My hope if you ever visit Alaska you either meet Edmund or meet someone as good – because that’s the kind of impression I hope you leave with of the people of Alaska. But that’s going to be hard … I mean … there are a lot of great people in Alaska …
But Edmund is a Legend.