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Posted on November 13, 2023 at 11:30 PM by Jennifer Hirsch
Erik is comfortable with being a little bit old-school. He makes his favorite bourbon drink the Wisconsin way – with muddled orange, cherry and bitters. And he still reads the newspaper every day – on the Metro bus ride from downtown Moline to the restaurant where he works.
“That’s my time,” Erik explained. “It’s about a 20-minute ride, and it’s my time to read the newspaper and just drift away for a little bit.”
The quiet time is crucial. Because once he clocks in, it’s non-stop. Behind the bar at Montana Jacks, every day is a bit different – a mix of regulars and new faces, another round of orders and a side of conversation.
I'm actually kind of a shy person,” he explained. “But I'm on a stage when I’m bartending. That's my platform, and I meet people every day.”
Just like the daily paper, there are headlines for each encounter at the bar. Someone’s there celebrating. Another table is talking business. Someone is sitting alone.
“I listen to people, and I hear their highs and lows in this business,” he said. “I’ve had people come in and tell me they buried their mother that day. If you come sit at my bar, I’ll take care of you. I like to give people a safe place to come sit, where they’ve got a friend in me.”
Erik makes friends wherever he goes. Over the years he’s found several favorites in the crew of Metro drivers. Even when he wasn’t riding as often during the pandemic, he’d meet up with them to bring water, a snack and catch up. It’s a simple thanks to Metro for making his commute easier and connecting him to everywhere he needs to go.
The bus is warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and he never has to worry about having car trouble. If only his favorite sports teams were as reliable as Metro.
“I'm a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan and a diehard Chicago Cubs fan,” he said with a laugh. “And I’m not having good years on both.”
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