If you work downtown in Athens long enough, you get to know your regulars. If you work downtown even longer than that, then you begin to watch them die off. Literally.
I've been working dowtown for close to half a decade. Tonight I was informed of a regular that died last night while driving home drunk from the Flaming Lips concert, who played at the Classic Center. Apparently, his friends urged him not to drive home. While they weren't paying attention, he slipped away and attempted to make it home safely. That didn't happen. He flipped his automobile 6 times and was killed.
This is the third regular that I've known of in the several bars I've worked at that has been killed. All were alcohol related. This fact disturbs me, however, I'm always deeply affected when I hear about a person who I've known through the bar scene who has died. The fact is, each of the people who have been killed over the years, all drunken vehicle related deaths, I haven't been a huge fan of while they've been alive. However, I still feel a deep sense of mourning in their deaths. I don't regret the way I've treated them over the years, always with respect, but I feel like they didn't live up to their full potential, instead spending their nights in a hole-in-the-wall bar night after night, getting drunk and investing their time in drunken shallow relationships.
It might not be right for me to judge them this way. But I still feel horrible that their lives were ended so quickly while they were so young, and for that I feel a terrible sense of loss.