The Day I Met the Bar Room Bum


I’m sitting in a bar feeling shitty about my life.  I have an average job.  I have an average looking wife and average kids.  I’m feeling shitty about myself as well.  I have accomplished nothing beyond average in my entire life.  I had once thought I was destined for greatness.  I dreamed that one day I would have the best-looking wife on the block and make more money than I could count.  None of my dreams have come to pass and I am now sitting here in this average bar nursing a cheap drink and wondering where I took the wrong turn.

Suddenly, the bar room door opens and in walks this seedy looking bum.  You know the type.  Long stringy hair, dirty clothes, smelly and unkempt.  He has probably not bathed in a month.  I hope he will not come and sit down next to me.  I know he will try to bum a drink.  If he does, I will tell him to go to hell.  I am not in the mood to shell out good money for some alcoholic bum.

Sure enough, he sits down next to me.  I give him the evil eye and he moves on down to the two guys sitting at the other end of the bar.   I watch some give and take between the bum and the other two drinkers.  They are shaking their heads and I assume telling him to get lost.  He walks back over to where I am sitting and takes a seat.

bum in bar

“Hey mister, can you buy me a drink.”  “Get lost”, I say, “I’m not a charity for bar bums.”  “How about some compassion for someone’s who’s down on their luck.” “You want compassion” I reply, “go visit a priest.”

“What if I could tell you a story that would profoundly change your life” says the bum. “Would that change your mind?”  “Tell you what” I say, “you tell me the story and if it profoundly changes my life, I’ll buy you a drink.”   I expect this will get rid of the bum but instead he agrees to my terms.  “Deal” he intones in a low soft voice.

“My name is Mike.  Twenty years ago, I graduated from Harvard University with a degree in law.  I had the highest GPA average in my graduation class.  At least five major law firms in Boston attempted to recruit me.  I took the one that offered me the most money.  I received a high six-digit salary.

Happy man enjoying the rain of money

I bought five of the best suits I could find.  I purchased a Porsche Carrera GT and a penthouse with a view of the Boston harbor.

I was assigned easy cases at first.  We represented the big corporations in their lawsuits.  Most of these were by disgruntled employees, whistle blowers and private citizens.  I killed each of them.  I was assigned bigger and bigger cases.  The amounts contested often ran into the hundreds of millions of dollars.  Many of the cases involved issues of sexual harassment, environmental degradation and fraud.  I never lost a case.  My corporate clients were ecstatic.  I was the go to guy for any high profile big buck lawsuit in the nation.

My life was a dream.  I made more and more money.  My salary was now in the seven digits with my bonuses and gratuities from my clients.   I was invited to celebrity parties and the super exclusive country clubs of the rich.

I was tall dark and handsome.  I worked out six days a week in the gym and I had a body that was the envy of any guy in the firm.  The woman all drooled when I walked by.  I bought a bigger penthouse and added a Ferrari 458 Spider to my car collection.  The car was given to me by a grateful client.

One day at the office, the firm’s owner and founder introduced me to his daughter Ashley.  She was a knockout.  She was a former Miss College USA.  She was tall blonde and statuesque.  She had the face of any angel.  Sadly, she did not have the brains to match her looks.

I was polite to her but made no obvious overtures to show that I was interested.  She did not really care as just about every other male and even some female lawyers were thinking about how to get in bed with her.  I decided to pretend to ignore her.

We had a Christmas party at the firm later that year.  It was held at the Boston Harbor Hotel.  I saw Ashley and she was surrounded by a bunch of our lawyers each trying to impress her.  I decided this was a good time to throw my hat in the ring.  I joined the conversation and soon showed how stupid most of my competition was.  Each one in turn drifted away so that only Ashley and I were left talking.  I went to the bar and returned with another drink for Ashley and myself.  We talked for another half hour or so and I made my move.


I invited Ashley up to my penthouse for a night cap.  In no time at all, she was in my bed.  I am not bragging when I say that not only did we go at it all night, but I called in to cancel appointments the next day and we spent the entire next day in bed going at it like deprived bunny rabbits.

As I said before, she was not the brightest light bulb in the pack but I figured where I was going, it would be good to have a looker like her as my wife.  A few months later in what was one of the Boston social events of the year we were married.  We moved into a new house in Back Bay.

I eventually left the law firm and started my own firm.  Some of the old firm’s clients went with me and I was now making more money than ever.  I worked seven days and week.  I was busy many evenings and did not bother coming home.  I bought a penthouse near my new office in Boston and brought my mistresses up there whenever I had an overnight.  I had hired several very good-looking paralegals to work for me and some of them were more than happy to help keep me warm at night.

Ashley started talking about having children and how she wished I could do more things with her.  I had no intention of doing either.  Why spoil a good thing?

woman on top sexuallyA few more months went by and one day I decided to come home from work early.  As I entered my house, I heard screams coming from upstairs.  I went to a desk and grabbed a loaded Colt Commander 45 ACP that I kept ready for emergencies.  I feared that Ashley was being attacked by some unknown intruder.  I ran up the stairs and into our bedroom.  There on the bed was Ashley and one of the young lawyers from my old law firm.  They were both nude and she was on top of him riding him like a bucking bronco.  What I thought were screams of pain were screams of ecstasy.  I had never heard anything like that from Ashley during our entire marriage.

She turned to look at me but did not break a beat in her rhythm.  The only thing she said was “Get out.  I want a divorce.”  I vacillated between shooting one or both of them but decided that my better course of action was to leave.  On the way out, I heard her say very loudly “Take off that damn condom, I want you to come inside of me.”

I packed some stuff and moved into my penthouse apartment.  I really did not give a damn if she left me.  At the time, I assumed I would be out some alimony but that would-be pennies compared to what I was making.  A week or so later, I received a letter from my father-in-law.  He informed me that not only would my old law firm be suing me for spousal neglect but I would be sued 150 million dollars for violating the terms of my contract when I had left his law firm.  Somewhere in the fine print of my contract, it had specified that I could not work with any of the firm’s clients for a period of five years upon terminating my employment.

The court convened for my trial a few weeks later.  Ashley showed up for the trial.  She sat with her lover on the plaintiff’s side of the court and glared at me the entire trial.  I lost on all counts.  I was told that I would have to pay 5 million dollars in restitution and was disbarred from practicing law for ten years following the date of the trial.  I lost everything.  My house, my cars, my penthouse apartment, my jewelry and my career.  Between my ex-father-in-law and my ex-wife, I was broke.  The only friend I had left in the world was Johnny Walker Blue Label and I could not even afford that anymore.

I took up drinking cheap whiskey.  It has been five years now since the trial.  I have five more years to go before I can practice law again.  I know that I am an alcoholic bum but can you blame me?  I told you that there would be a life changing moral in this story for you but before I give it to you, I want my drink.”

Mike had concluded his story.  I wondered what the life changing moral would be.  I had some ideas but curiosity got the better of me.  I decided to buy him his drink and let him finish his tale of woe.

“Bartender” I called, “bring my friend here a shot of Johnny Walker Scotch.”  The Scotch was quickly downed by Mike with a look of joy and ecstasy on his face that would be hard to describe.

“Okay”, Mike began “I have had many years to reflect on my life and where it went wrong.  I also know that not a man alive would at some point in their life not have been envious of mine.  The sad part and the moral is that we all want things that we think will make us happy when the real happiness is what we have inside and what we bring to life, not what life brings to us.”  With these last words of wisdom, Mike got off his bar stool and went out the same way he came in.  I never saw him again.

I sat for an hour or so after he left thinking about what he had said.  Just a few minutes before he had entered the bar, I was bemoaning my sorry life and denigrating my family.  I decided to go home and hug my wife and kids.

Happy family in front of house

Many years have past since I met Mike.  My life is pretty much the same as it was before I met him, except that I have never been happier.  My wife is beautiful and my kids are beautiful.  I would not trade my life for all the money in the world.

Time for Questions:

Do you appreciate what you have?  What does it take to make us happy?  Is money an essential element of happiness?  What if you had no money, could you still be happy?  What is the most important person or thing in your life?  Why?

Life is just beginning.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” — Melody Beattie

20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carolyn Wedin
    Aug 28, 2017 @ 06:53:29

    Always good to have a reminder of these truths, and your story does that. Thanks, John!



  2. Jeanine
    Aug 29, 2017 @ 14:06:44

    I will be honest and answer the first question with a sometimes. More often than not I feel blessed with what I have, but ponder the thought of what it would be like to have more. Do we ever have enough, and if we did, would it make us happier? As to the question of the importance money has on our happiness, I would have to say it plays an integral part in our mental attitude. I reflect on the times in my life I did not have enough income and cannot say I look back on them with fond memories. People tend to classify those periods as, “hard times”. I would not use that severe of a term, but being able to exist when money is not your major concern makes life more enjoyable. Maybe this is because I do not know how to live without money as there are other people who seem to be blissfully happy with nothing.
    The most important thing in my life is to be able to come to the end of it as a better person. I am still working on me. LOL The most important person on the other hand has me scratching my head. The typical answer might be a spouse, but there are other very important people in my life and for different reasons. If I had to put one before the other in order of their degree of importance, then I would have to start with my husband. I could list a dozen reasons why, but most important of all is the love and support that he has given me through the years. I guess money is not everything because you cannot buy this kind of love. It is priceless and I would give every penny I had to keep it forever.



    • johnpersico
      Aug 30, 2017 @ 05:58:01

      Nice thoughts Jeanine. Very honest. Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions and share your answers



  3. johnpersico
    Aug 30, 2017 @ 05:57:40

    Nice thoughts Jeanine. Very honest. Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions and share your answers.



  4. Thomas Dierl
    Sep 07, 2017 @ 03:24:23

    I have many times asserted the importance of ideas as they surely can outlast ones lifetime and therefore have an enduring effect. However, in the shorter term (a lifetime) it is human relations that have a profound effect on one’s happiness. Money can surely be exchanged for the essentials of life (food etc.), but it cannot buy those human relations most highly valued by some.

    This is an interesting blog and a testament to your intellectual curiosity. Thanks for taking the time to ask meaningful questions.



    • johnpersico
      May 30, 2019 @ 06:53:54

      Thanks Thomas, I missed your comment two years ago but am finally catching up. I appreciate it very much. Hope all has gone well with you in the past two years.



  5. johnpersico
    May 30, 2019 @ 07:04:30

    Reblogged this on Aging Capriciously and commented:

    I did this story two years ago. I think I will repost it. A story of what we want in life versus what we need.



  6. jilldennison
    Jan 14, 2023 @ 23:11:29

    Wow. What a great reminder of what’s truly important in life. I have no desire for money and am appreciative for what I have — thankfully. Happy? I’m content, and many moons ago I decided that ‘happiness’ is an elusive concept, something that everyone seems to strive for, yet nobody recognizes it when they have it. I settle for being content and knowing that while I’m not perfect, my conscience is mostly clear.



  7. Socorro Luna
    Jan 15, 2023 @ 08:50:21

    Bravo, John!

    Another favorite for me because you described people I know. I have a list in mind of friends who will like the story when forward the Bar Room Bum.

    Your literary fan,



  8. Majik
    Jan 19, 2023 @ 07:22:28

    Wow, John! Good story . . . the bum sure delivered. I’ve been the ungrateful ass on the bar stool more times than I wish weren’t true, but my possibly imaginary Friend always comes and sits beside me and asks me to buy Him a drink and also tells me a story that brings me to my senses like this bum did here. So . . . I’d have to say that He is my “most important person” in my life followed in close second by my impossibly imaginary beautiful bride. Thank you for writing this. It was a good read that I’m glad I did.



    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Jan 19, 2023 @ 08:22:59

      Thanks Majik. That is a swell complement and I really appreciate it. I have been the ungrateful ass so many times in my life. I have probably written this with myself in mind. It is a fiction story though and I never did run into the “barroom bum.” I need an imaginary friend. Right now it is my wife who provides me with guidance but I think it gets to be a “Heavy” load sometimes. John



  9. Majik
    Jan 19, 2023 @ 12:59:58

    All men are bastards, John. Thank God for women who can love us anyway.



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