Bill walked into his favorite uptown pub. It looked like it always did. The dark aged wood reflected Bill’s mood. There was the faint smell of old beer from years of spilled drinks soaking into the floorboards. He walked up and sat down on the bar stool. The new granite bar belied the age of the wood beneath it.
“You’re in early Bill.” Kelly smiled and put Bill’s usual beer in front of him.
“I should be working, but I’ve been caught up in a layoff.” Bill let his defeat show through finally.
“That really sucks. You’ve had that job for a long time. Have you called your wife yet?”
“I’m trying to get my courage up. I figured a couple of beers might help.”
Kelly gave Bill a friendly hand squeeze. “That isn’t going to help Bill, and we both know it. As your bartender, and bar owner, I should tell you it helps, but as your friend, I should warn you. You want to walk down this new path, not stumble through it.”
“I feel like I’m already stumbling. The company I’ve been with twenty years cut several positions. Most of us over forty, and many of us, including me, over fifty. The odds are not in my favor when it comes to picking up another job.” Bill sipped on his beer.
“Did they give you any severance?”
“Oh sure. Between that and my savings, we are good for a couple of years.”
Kelly smiled at him. “Well, there you go. You have time to figure out what to do next. Maybe even take some classes. What gets you up in the morning? What do you believe in? What gives you faith?”
“I believe in finishing this beer. What are you, the missionary bartender?”
Kelly laughed and slapped the bar. “I should put a sign up over the bar that says that. No, I mean what do you believe in. You know, when you were young, what drove your decision to pick your career?”
“That’s easy. I always wanted to be a programmer. I loved bringing ideas to life on a computer. Unfortunately, over the years things have changed. It hasn’t been fun for almost ten years. I spent most of the time hanging on so we could get the kids raised.”
“Do you think the career field has changed, or maybe you have changed?”
“Oh, I think maybe a bit of both. What does that have to do with what I believe?”
Kelly casually slid Bill’s beer to the side, leaned in a little closer, and spoke more softly. “Bill, I have an old saying, “Some people seek their mid-life crises, and others have it thrust upon them.” We all reach a point in our lives where our life changes so much we are required to make a shift. Do you know what I did before the bar?”
“No. I just assumed you always had this place.”
Bill laughed and pushed away. “No, I was an investment banker for fifteen years. I made a lot of coin, but I burned out. My performance dropped, and eventually, I was shown the door.”
“So at that point, you discovered faith in alcohol and believed you wanted to serve drinks?”
“No. I spent a few weeks, and then months, trying to figure out who I was again. I didn’t have enough money to outlast me, but I wasn’t broke either. I asked myself who I wanted to be. I didn’t open the pub to get people drunk. I opened the bar because I love people. I love having a great time with folks. I want people to have fun, just not crazy fun. As you know, we have a pretty firm policy around drinking too much here.”
Bill’s face turned a bit crimson. “Um yeah, I have run into it a time or two.”
“Sometimes introspection is needed. Call your wife, tell her what has happened. Ask her if she is okay if you come home after a while. Finish your beer and then take a walk. I don’t know if you are a praying man, but that helps too. ”
“I definitely could use a walk, but I do not see the connection.”
“We are driven by what we believe. It is at the core of everything we do, whether we are conscious of those decisions or not. You just forget about it because after so many years of the same routine your life goes into autopilot. Now you are forced to take over the controls again. Knowing what you believe will give you your bearings.”
“Okay missionary bartender. I’m going to go over there, and call the wife. Then I am walking back over and finishing my beer. Then I am walking out those doors and wandering around the city, hopefully without getting mugged. When I am done with my walk, I believe I may come back for another beer.”
“If you walk back in I believe I’ll pour you one.”
Bill called his wife. She took it better than he did. What did she know that he didn’t? He walked back over and downed his glass of beer and smiled at Kelly. “Time to start that journey.” Bill turned on his heels and walked through the door into the warm, inviting sunshine.