A getaway from work

Usually I take my lunch to work. Depending on the weather, I’ll either drive to a sunny spot or stay in the office. One memorable day I found the weather warm and inviting me to seek a break.

My schedule allowed for an hour. Then, a call came in. My first reaction believed it was another robo call. I answered and a man asked for me. I identified myself. He asked if I might give him a few minutes. “My name is Jerome. I’m a partner in a law firm out of your area. I’m reaching out for a good friend. He, too, is a partner in the law firm. We are well-known in the legal community. My friend, I believe, needs someone he can talk to. He isn’t being forced to do this.”

I wondered what “this” is. Jerome continued. “This is difficult for me. You see, we’re best friends. We work big-time criminal cases, news-worthy stuff, you know what I mean?” He has not been able to work for several weeks. Something happened to him. He won’t talk to me. We spoke about professional counseling. It took a while to convince him to see someone. I’m afraid that he won’t be right and be able to return to work. I need him. The firm needs him. Can you see him?”

I asked about seeing someone closer to their region. “Oh, no, he’s too well-known, too well-established. If he talks to anyone, it won’t be anyone nearby. He knows too many people. Do you get my drift? He has given me permission to set up an appointment. If you can do so, can he see you for two hours? He’ll be coming from a long distance.” I agreed to the requests and set up a two-hour slot. Meet Clint. There went my outing. Best laid plans.

Clinton arrived for his scheduled appointment. He stood tall; I’d guess 6 feet, 4 inches with a well-proportioned frame. My initial thought, an athletic oriented man. He wore a button-down shirt, slacks, sandals, dark socks. He wore sunglasses on this sunny summer day. His voice was deep and his handshake was firm. “I’m Clint, glad to meet you. Mind if I use your restroom? It was a long drive.”

Clint sat down, placed his sunglasses on my desk and accepted a bottle of water. He took a long drink, looked up at me and said, “You know, this is strange. I’m used to being on your side of the desk, if you know what I mean.” He sat up straight and tall, taking up the entire chair with his athletic frame. After some small talk about his drive today, I asked Clint how he felt about his friend reaching out for him. “Jerome and I are partners in a prominent legal firm. We’re also best friends and go back a long way. Guess he thought I could use some help.”

Do you agree? I asked.

“Oh, I don’t know man. I’ve never done anything like this before. I’m married with three kids. Everyone’s pretty normal, I guess. We have a good life. I work hard, long hours to provide for my family. My wife is self-employed and my kids are in school. We’re all healthy. My wife and I get along well. We have our moments, don’t we all? The children are good students and active in school activities and church. We attend every Sunday. We take vacations and have fun. So, Marshall, can I call you Marshall? You are probably wondering why I’m babbling here. To tell you the truth, I’m extremely nervous.”

What I understand, I inquired, is that you’ve not been at work for several weeks. What’s the story? Clint looked down at his hands. Then, allowing for a few minutes to pass, looked up and said, “Marshall, I can’t do it anymore. I can’t go back to work. I feel dead inside. Empty. Coming here today was only to satisfy Jerome, he’s a good man, and my wife, Anna. She wanted to come with me. I said no.”

The balance of our two-hour session focused on getting Clint to talk more about current functioning, some family history and focus on the here and now. We set up another two-hour session.

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

Marshall Greenstein, a Cassadaga resident, holds a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling and is a licensed marriage and family counselor and a licensed mental health counselor in New York state. He has regular office hours at Hutton and Greenstein Counseling Services, 501 E. Third St., Suite 2B, Jamestown, 484-7756. For more information or to suggest topics, email editorial@observertoday.com

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