Once upon a time…
The Gatsby is a swanky new club downtown named after the 1925 novel, The Great Gatsby. The novel centred around a self-made millionaire who lived in a luxurious mansion where he would often host extravagant parties. Back in the 1920s, booze was illegal so underground bars would operate in the shadows. A password or secret knock, or some combination of both were often required to gain access. If the location of the bar was shared, it was only ever done so after looking both ways, leaning in close, and whispering in a soft voice to avoid disclosing sensitive information to enquiring minds – hence the name, speakeasy.
Today the speakeasies are making a comeback. The Gatsby is nothing short of a step back in time, providing its guests a glimpse of yesteryear, without the fear of getting raided by armed police and hauled off in a paddy wagon.
Behind the bar, Michael was shaking martinis, pouring beers, and keeping the patrons entertained. He wore a black button-down shirt with a white-collar, white tie, and white suspenders. His sleeves were neatly rolled up to his elbows. Micheal was made for his role and it beamed out of his eyes and off his lips on every shift. Everyone knew Michael and Michael knew everyone…by name!
A four-piece band dressed in various coloured Zoot Suits recreated hits from the Jazz Era. Everyone in the club was dressed to the nines: the dames in their dresses and the cats in their suits. It wasn’t mandatory to attire according to the theme, though many opted to do so. There were plenty of fedoras, two-tone Oxfords, flappers, and feathered boas.
Henry sat at the bar in a grey suit. It wasn’t a flashy throwback to the 1920s, it was just what he wore to work that day. This was his first visit to The Gatsby. After a long day at the office, he was just looking for a good scene with some decent music, a stiff drink, and to possibly even meet a kitten to keep him company.
Henry was enjoying the music and nursing his second Sidecar when she walked in and made her way to the bar. She was absolutely stunning. Brown curls just past her shoulders and green eyes that sparkled, contrasting her full red lips. Her body was perfectly silhouetted by a full-length royal blue dress. Eloise was in her mid-forties but could easily pass for thirty the way she took care of herself. She set her purse on the bar and began to remove her faux fur jacket. Henry quickly leapt to her aid and she smiled at the gesture, thanking him for his hospitality. She took her seat and Michael was right there to greet her.
“Name’s Michael, darlin’. What’s your pleasure?”
“Well, Michael, I’m Eloise. It’s my first time here. What would you recommend?”
This was Michael’s specialty. As good as he was putting names to faces from a single introduction, he was even better at sizing up a customer and pairing them with the perfect drink. Before even making a recommendation, he got to work. He tossed a silver mixing tin into the air, catching it in one hand and using the other to throw in a scoop of ice. He flipped a bottle of gin, caught it, and poured it into the tin before returning it to the line of bottles in front of him. He squeezed a lemon and added some simple syrup to the mix before capping it and shaking it rigorously. The contents of the tin were strained into a flute and topped with bubbly champagne. He then pulled out another lemon and a paring knife from his back pocket. Carving a perfect curly garnish and setting it on the edge of the glass, he bowed and placed it in front of Eloise.
“Quite the showman there, Michael. And what do you call this?”
“That, my dear Eloise, is a French 75. Enjoy!”
He turned to Henry. “How is that Sidecar coming along, Henry?”
“All good, thank you.” Henry barely looked away from Eloise. “It’s my first time here as well.”
“You don’t say,” responded Eloise coyly.
“I believe I did just say.” His feeble attempt at humour yielded a gracious half-giggle from Eloise. “I’m Henry,” he said, extending his hand as a salutation.
“Eloise.” She shook his hand and went back to her drink.
“So what’s a fine dame like you doin’ in a joint like this?” He attempted a very poor Bogart impression.
“I’m actually meeting someone here.”
“Thanks. You’re sweet. I hope he thinks so.”
“Well, if he doesn’t, I’ll be right here.” They both turned to their drinks realising how desperate that came across.
What seemed like half an hour after that awkward exchange, but in reality was only three minutes, a gentleman approached Eloise at the bar. He wore a dark grey pinstripe suit with a blue button-down shirt and a grey tie with a gold design printed on it. “Excuse me, is this seat taken?” he asked motioning to the stool beside her.
“Actually, I’m waiting for someone.”
“Well, how about I keep the stool warm until he arrives?”
Henry thought this new guy sounded even more ridiculous than he did. He waited for the inevitable rejection but, to Henry’s shock and dismay, Eloise allowed the man to sit. Once again, Michael was right there with a show-stopping smile to greet the stranger, who promptly ordered a Pina Colada. Michael paused for half a second before getting to work on the drink. Eloise and Henry paused slightly longer, and the stranger picked up on their judgment. A white blended Pina Colada garnished with a pineapple wedge and a cherry in a rounded glass was set in front of the man. He took a swig from the straw and smiled with satisfaction, Eloise and Henry still eyeing him.
“I like Pina Coladas and I don’t care.” He said defiantly, taking another straw full.
Just then, the band started in with an upbeat tune. The stranger stood up. “That sounds like fun. Let’s give it a whirl!” He extended his hand to Eloise.
“Excuse me,” she said, surprised at his audacity. “I told you I am waiting for someone.”
Henry chuckled as he overheard. However, the stranger was not dissuaded and he took her by the hand. Before Henry knew what was happening, they trotted off to the dance floor. He watched in amazement as the two began to move. They danced the Charleston, the Peabody, and the Turkey Trot – flawlessly executed as though it had been choreographed. Henry looked at Michael with an expression of, “What is going on?” Michael just shrugged and smiled.
The two galloped back to the bar, laughing and holding hands. Henry was still shocked and confused. The stranger, who seemed not so much a stranger anymore, asked Michael for the tab for the Pina Colada and the French 75. Henry couldn’t hold his tongue anymore as it was clear they were about to leave together.
“What about the man you are supposed to be waiting for?” he asked Eloise.
“Oh don’t be such a fuddy-duddy. I’m having such a great time with . . .” she paused and giggled embarrassed. “I don’t even know your name.”
“Charlie. Charlie McCabe,” he introduced himself and bent forward to kiss the back of her hand. She giggled again.
Charlie paid the bill and they left arm-in-arm together. Michael cleared the drinks away and wiped down the bar. Henry ordered another Sidecar, scratching his head.
“Does this kind of thing happen here a lot?” he asked as Michael replaced his empty drink with the fresh one he just made.
“About once a month,” was the response.
Henry looked even more confused.
“We call them ‘The Smiths’. They come in about once a month, pretend it’s their first time here, pretend they are meeting randomly for the first time, then leave together after a drink and a dance. Apparently, they’ve been married for about 15 years now and they do this at restaurants, movie theatres, and parks all over town. We all just play along.”
A beautiful redhead walked up to Henry. Her red dress and lipstick made her hair seem even more fiery. Looking up from his Sidecar, his jaw dropped.
“Is this seat taken?” she asked in a soft and sultry voice.
Henry looked at the seat, looked at her, looked at the door where Eloise ran off with Charlie just moments earlier, then looked at Michael for reassurance. Michael beamed back.
‘Just another night at The Gatsby.’ Michael laughed to himself, attending to others at the bar.
“You are what you do. If you do boring, stupid, monotonous work, chances are you’ll end up boring, stupid, and monotonous.”
— Bob Black
Moral of the Story:
No matter where you start, where you finish is on you. Listen to yourself and stop doing stuff you hate. Don’t take a bad job because it pays more, or go to university just to meet other people’s expectations. The ability to not care about other people’s opinions is the singular gateway to happiness. Life is simply far too short to be bored or miserable (or both) for such a large portion of the time you spend awake. You deserve to have a job you love and if you love it, you’ll do an even better job. Find one that taps into your passions and brings you joy. If you don’t know what you want to do, try as many experiences as possible. Don’t play it safe; do things that make you uncomfortable and find out what you are made of. When you find work you love, stick with it, even when it’s hard. Have the audacity to believe that you can do what you love for the rest of your life, because you can. Happiness over flashiness – stop the confusion.
How you make your money is more important than how much you make. When all is said and done, legacy is greater than currency. You need happiness to be productive and content. If you’re unhappy with work, step back and really look into your situation. Identify what is making you unhappy and what you need to do to solve it. Most importantly, be willing to take risks and make significant changes. Pay attention to what truly inspires you. What lights you up and makes you feel alive? Build a life around serving others in those areas that you truly value. If you actually spent your time doing instead of dwelling, you’d be much further along. Without hustle, your talent will only get you so far and your hustle needs to match your goals. Most people resist trial and error, but getting lost is part of the process. Tune your internal navigation system to personal accountability, stay true to your passions, and live the grandest version of yourself. That’s the fastest path to your highest calling and a life that loves you right back.
“When you love what you do, you’re consistent as f*ck”
— Gary Vaynerchuk
Affirmation: I am already a success because I love my work.
I love what I do and it shows in my work. I have the drive and motivation to pursue my massive goals. I transform obstacles into stepping stones with ease. I am open and receptive to new streams of income. I easily move out of poverty thinking into prosperity thinking and now I prosper wherever I turn. I put my best foot forward every day and I find the work that I do challenging and fulfilling. I am grateful to be able to do what I love every day. I know I can do this and I will find a way and get it done. I am creating a tidal wave of positive change by bringing the joy of my unique gifts to the world. I offer great value to the world and the right people easily find me. I am a powerful creator and I choose to create a life I love. Every day I discover interesting and exciting new paths to pursue. Because I love my work, I am self-reliant, creative, and persistent in whatever I do. I have a wonderful job in a wonderful way; I give wonderful service for wonderful pay.
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
— Steve Jobs