Within the last few weeks, I’ve started to see this man named Matt a whole lot more regularly at the Mitten.
He comes in almost every night, and chats with whoever is around. It doesn’t matter who; women, men, servers, it doesn’t matter he lights up a conversation.
The first reason anyone at the brewery took notice of him was he’s an extraordinary tipper. He takes care of us. He knew from the minute he walked into the brewery, he would be a regular and wanted to make sure we were aware of his intentions.
And now whenever we see his bespectacled face, with receding hairline and casual outfits, we know to get right to him.
Although he’s a white collar guy, you’d never know it by his outfits. He comes in, mostly with a T-shirt and, now, shorts and sandals. He recently wore a white shirt with all the heads of Marvel superheroes.
He’s renting a house nearby, and works a lot on it; painting, yard work, cleaning. The visit to the brewery is his hard-earned reward for day’s work.
Recently, he said he walked outside, his neighbors partying with Miller Lites, “You want one?” they asked. “No.” He walked inside, pulled out a cigar and a Founders beer, walked out and said, “This is the way to do it.”
He then proceeded to talk them into coming to the Mitten. Granted, he hasn’t actually brought them in yet, but I believe him.
The other day he was telling me about his career. He works out of one of the largest marketing firms in the United States, nearly 50,000 people strong. He’s the only person on the Meijer account and does most of the company’s sporting marketing.
For awhile, he worked from the firm’s headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida, but it took its toll. He would fly to the Meijer headquarters and spend nearly four weeks at a time here, fly back, stay in Florida for a few weeks, and fly back. Travel expenses ended up nearly $20,000 year.
And he said in four years, he never went to the beach that was a short drive away. “I don’t like oceans.”
So he moved back to Michigan; he’s from Flint, but had never been to Grand Rapids before the job, aside from a collegiate track meet at Grand Valley State University. Now he works more than 40 hours a week, mostly in four days so he can have Fridays free.
But he said the city has everything you could want, and is only getting better. The city improved with the absence of automotive factories, he said, something the East side of the state couldn’t manage because it didn’t appropriately plan for it.
That makes me happy. I plan to be in Grand Rapids a long time, and I plan on being active in the community. So to know someone who’s been around and somewhat knows what it takes to be a cool city thinks Grand Rapids is here to stay, I’ll take it.