“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination,” famously said the American psychologist Carl Rogers. Well I am not sure whether these guys have any direction, their boats seem to be floating adrift on the tide, but they are certainly enjoying the ride. I really don’t know how they do it! Hats off to them for I can’t understand their methods, but they seem to work.
“Ah, I recognisee youuuu,” I heard a drunken growl as I neared the small shop. It almost sounded like a bear awakening from winter hibernation. I looked around with some trepidation, not knowing what strange creature would greet me.
“Youuuu areee the Englishman, aren’t youuuu?” said the growling bear. Oh crap! Not only is he talking to me but he also recognises me. Not wanting to upset the bear I replied “yes, that’s me,” as I turned to see the bear was in fact a man sitting on an empty beer crate outside the shop. I wasn’t sure if the beer crate had been full when he first sat down and he had managed to empty it singlehandedly or if his friends had helped him.
“I readddd your columnnnn,” he murmured whilst at the same time slugging down another neck full of beer. I hope that I haven’t upset this bear, I thought to myself. “You areeee smart forrrr an Englishman,” another neck full of beer disappeared. Was that a compliment? Or had he just insulted an entire nation? I wasn’t sure but as it made me feel better I decided that he probably meant the first option. “Thank you,” I throw into the wind as I hustled into the shop door.
“I see that the government is in session today,” I joked with the shop assistant inside. She grinned back. “They get through five or six bottles a day,” she complained. “Don’t complain, these guys are great business, they are loyal customers and they always purchase the same products, beer and cigarettes, so they are easy to please,” I replied. “Yeah, I guess you are right,” she shrugged her shoulders in acceptance.
I jumped back in the car and then started to think. She said five or six a day, well that’s fifty Kunas a day. Add to that a packet of cigarettes and you are up to seventy something Kunas a day. At that’s before they have had something to eat, although maybe they prefer a liquid lunch, if you know what I mean. Seventy-five Kunas a day is 2,250 Kunas a month or 27,000 Kunas a year! Even if they have some days off, weekends and holidays, so let’s say half that amount, that’s still almost 2,000 Euros annually! That’s before they have paid the bills, the rent, the mortgage, their taxes, the food bills, etc. How on God's sweet and green earth do they afford it!
Forget David Copperfield, these guys are the real magicians. Forget Donald Trump, these guys are the financial wizards! There is no way that I could afford to do this; I would be homeless, hungry and bankrupt in a month. They seem to rarely work, if at all and yet they have money to burn. They are living the hedonist dream. Days filled with social encounters, cold beers, resting in the shade and a seemingly endless supply of money. Sounds like the script of a Hollywood movie where Tom Cruise would be in the leading role. The film could be called “The High Life.”
What is their trick, their scheme? I used the word government to describe them, but it seems they are closer to the government than I first realised. They spend most of the day putting the world to rights, they know everything about everything, a bottle or three of cold beer and they transform into Noble prize winning scientists, golden boot footballers and Winston Churchill trained politicians. There must be magic in those bottles. The bottles of beer are like the telephone box that would spin Clark Kent into Superman. A few sips of the brown liquid and they are world beaters, Einstein is in first grade put side by side with these heroes.
They seem to have no cares in the world, no stress from work (an obvious answer to that one), no pressures from society, no real care about their appearance, they are basically living for pleasure alone. Once again how do they do it? What is the magic formula? And why the hell can’t I find it! I just hope the bear doesn’t read this column as he might not be a gentle bear the next time we cross paths.