It was 8 pm on a cold and rainy Monday evening at The Town Crier Pub. Located a couple of blocks north of the Financial District in Toronto, The Town Crier was a popular haunt for the corporate types, as they dropped in for a pint before heading home.
Derek found himself sitting at the bar at The Town Crier, nursing a pint of Amsterdam Blonde. He had had a long day. He had listened to the long-winding personal stories of 6 of his regular therapy clients that day. He had also diligently ploughed through his backlog of psychotherapy session notes and other administrative paper work. A couple of errands had brought him down to the Financial District and that tired voice in his head had subsequently led him to the shiny, new bar counter at The Town Crier.
“Hey Clara, how have you been? Can I please get my usual?” said a man in a crisp, navy blue, Brooks Brothers, pinstripe suit, as he propped himself on the bar stool next to Derek and carelessly plopped his laptop bag on the floor, next to his feet.
“Whisky Sour, generous with the Canadian Club and easy on the ice – coming over. Good to see you again, Rahul. You look a little down. All good, bro?” replied Clara, the sprightly, redhead bartender, while her hands moved at the speed of light, weaving their magic with liquor bottles and glasses.
“Ahh well, my new boss at the bank is really starting to get to my nerves. Son of a bitch is always on my case and I just don’t feel like going into work anymore,” Rahul added with an air of frustration.
“I hear ya, brotha’. Here’s your drink. Cheers. Shall I start a tab?”
“Do you feel unmotivated at your job too, Clara? Like really down and out? Yeah, start a tab please.”
“I have my bad days, you know. But you learn to get over it. You hang in there bro. I’ll be right back.”
Derek gave a sidelong glance to the man in the pinstripe suit beside him. His clean shaven face looked gaunt, with dark circles under those Gucci glasses. He must be in his early 30s, thought Derek, but his haggard face made him look a decade older.
Lost in his thoughts, Derek was startled by Rahul’s arm bumping into his beer mug, while he was trying to reach for a napkin. A few drops of beer got wasted, apologies were made and introductions exchanged, as the men sized each other up and struck up a conversation.
“Sorry, but I couldn’t help overhearing about the stressful situation at your workplace. Have you spoken to your manager about it?” Derek asked tentatively.
“Which world do you live in, dude? I can’t tell him that. He would think I am such a pussy,” Rahul replied with a look of incredulity.
“Ok… Fair enough. What about talking about your frustration at work with someone who would listen?”
“You mean, like a shrink?”
“Umm… yes, a psychotherapist.”
“Shrinks are such money grabbing, smooth talking bastards, I tell you. How can they tell me anything different that I don’t already know, anyway? And it’s not like I am going crazy, or anything!”
“Have you been to a therapist before?”
“No, I haven’t,” Rahul paused, while swirling his drink. “It’s not like they would understand anyway. Nobody understands what I am going through,” he added with a shrug, staring into his drink.
“I guess you are right,” Derek said, backing off a bit. “I guess it’s difficult to feel motivated at a job when one can’t see the point of it anymore, when it doesn’t add meaning to their lives anymore”. Derek took a long swig of the amber coloured liquid in his mug.
I guess it’s difficult to feel motivated at a job when one can’t see the point of it anymore, when it doesn’t add meaning to their lives anymore
Rahul looked up from his drink and at Derek, “How do you know that?”
“Personal experience, my friend. Does it apply to your situation in any way?”
“I don’t know. I mean, I am good at my job. I am damn good, to be honest. I got promoted to Asst. Vice President and became the manager of the entire GTA sales team, 2 months ago. I have killed myself for the last 2 years for this promotion. But…” Rahul trailed off and went back to staring at his drink.
“But somehow it didn’t feel as great as you thought it would feel?” Derek egged on.
“Yes! Godammit!” Rahul shouted and soon felt embarrassed, as some of the other patrons turned their heads towards him. “It has sucked, especially since my fiancé broke up with me a few months ago. I just dunno what to do with myself anymore,” Rahul hung his head.
“What if this situation is calling you to look elsewhere, to make your life meaningful again?” Derek ventured.
“What do you mean?”
“What do you really enjoy doing other than work? What are you passionate about, Rahul?”
“Ok… think of some activity that you did in the past that gave you a lot of pleasure?”
“Umm… Well, I used to be the editor of a diversity newsletter at work, a few years ago. I think I like to write, as I kinda liked publishing that newsletter. But they stopped it after a year.”
“Well, I used to play the drum kit in my friend’s band, back in university. But we weren’t any good and there’s no money in that anyway.”
“Would you like to start writing and playing the drums again? But this time for yourself. For your satisfaction.”
“Ain’t nobody got no time fo’ that,” Rahul snorted sarcastically.
Imagine, you are lying on your deathbed, in a hospital, many years from now and you are looking back at your life. You revisit this conversation that we just had. What do you see and how do you feel about what you see
“Ok… I want you to imagine this,” said Derek, as he finished his beer and got up to pay for it. “Imagine, you are lying on your deathbed, in a hospital, many years from now and you are looking back at your life. You revisit this conversation that we just had. What do you see and how do you feel about what you see?”
Rahul gawked at Derek, as his sarcastic smirk quickly gave way to small puddles, which reflected the bar lights from his eyes. “Wait… wait… can we please talk for a little longer? Let me buy you a drink?”
“Here is my card,” Derek replied, while putting on his jacket. “You will find my details in there. I think I can see you on Thursday evenings. Call me,” he said, as he walked out of the bar and into the rainy night.
Photo Credit – Tommy Ga-Ken Wan – Flickr Creative Commons