Chance Encounter

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Janet and I had been married for 10 years. Unfortunately, our relationship had become very contentious. She wanted more and more without helping to earn the money. She Is great at spending money but not earning it. As a result, I became indebted for things she wanted. This included a house in Ohio that was in fact a money pit. After many discussions she maintained it was my responsibility to earn the money and that we should decide how to spend it. This one sided relationship continued and over time her demands exceeded both my patience and ability to earn the money she demanded.

One November evening the financial pressure on me and her unwillingness to help share the financial responsibilities boiled over. After being told how selfish and mean spirited I was for not giving her more money, we had an argument that lasted for over two hours. At the end of that time Janet, packed a suitcase and left our house. She was going to Ohio. I was left with the bills and the responsibility of making things right with our creditors.

About an hour after she left, I decided to go out and have a beer. “What the hell. There is no reason to sit around the house.”

I am not much of a bar person but tonight it seemed the right thing to do. I started driving and ended-up at a bar called The Pro Shop in Clearwater. For reasons not clear, I stopped there and decided I needed a drink.

Entering the place, I took a seat at the end of the bar and ordered a beer. This was a very nice place and had a friendly atmosphere. The bartender was especially nice and spent a few minutes chatting with me. During that time, I mentioned that my wife had left, and I was just trying to relax after a tense couple of weeks.

Brent, the bartender smiled, “I understand. You won’t be the first guy who came in here after a dust-up with a woman. It happens all too often. Sit back and relax, there’s no pressure here.”

The friendly atmosphere and small crowd made it a very comfortable place to be. About 15 minutes after I arrived, a tall, man in is late 40’s or early 50’s sat down at the bar a few seats away from me. He smiled at me after ordering his drink. As we both sat staring into the bar, the man introduced himself.

“Hi, my name is Sean. I live here in Clearwater.”

Without hesitation I responded, “Hi, my name is Jim. I live in Tampa but took a drive tonight and ended up here. Never been here before.”

Sean replied, “Welcome to the Pro Shop. While I am not what you would call a regular, this is one of my favorite bars. What brings you to Clearwater?”

I started, “This is probably a story that has been told many times here, but my wife and I are having a rough time. In fact, she packed her bag and left for Ohio. I decided just to get out of the house and drive. I actually found this place because I was tired of driving and wanted to take a break.”

Over-hearing the conversation Brent said, “Yes, you aren’t the first man to come in here because a woman had driven him to find some peace.”

Both Sean and I laughed. I said, “I suspect you have heard many a story.” The smile on his face said it all.

As Sean and I chatted, he moved to the seat next to mine. We continued to talk about sports, his work as a clinical psychologist, and our family backgrounds. This went on for almost an hour. During that time Sean got closer to me and several times touched my shoulder. I didn’t think anything about that. It didn’t seem out of place. As I shared my frustrations about my relationship with Janet, he seemed to understand and provided some encouragement that everything would work out.

At one point he put his hand on my thigh. It seemed to be assuring to me. I didn’t object. It gave me a sense of calm and reassurance.

Sean finally said, “This bar stool is not very comfortable. There’s a table over in the corner, why don’t we move over there. It will make our conversation more private and easier on our rear ends.”

I agreed, and we moved to the table. It was relatively dark in that corner so there was a sense of privacy as we talked. As the conversation continued, I had an increasing sense of peace and confidence with Sean that seemed strange since we had only met and hour or so before.

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