turkish-coffeeIn the 1980’s I worked in The People’s Bank building in Seattle. I read for lawyers, investment counselors, tax attorneys, an occasional judge, receptionists and secretaries. My work was well received. I had a client base of familiar faces.

A new client came to see me one evening just before closing. His cards were full of money, speculation and loss. I felt confused by the energy of the person sitting in front of me, and the contrasting voice in my head. My client wore a charcoal Armani suit, a dark bordeau tie, had monogrammed cuff links and carried a double zipped briefcase with PRADA of Milano printed on a small silver triangle. But the voice in my head was practically yelling at me that the man had no money. I was so conflicted I could not continue reading.

Could you just give me a minute, I asked, as I closed my eyes. I’m a little unclear on this one.

He nodded in agreement and returned his coffee. 

What do you mean he has no money? I said to the voice in my head. Are you daft? I’m not going to tell him he has no money. I would be insane to do that. Look at him. He looks like a millionaire, and those are not borrowed clothes. They are tailored to fit him. Come on, give me a break!

The voice spoke again demanding that I listen, Tell him he has no money!

You’d better be right, I said. You’d better be right! I took a deep breath and let it out in a long sigh. A knot formed in the hallow of my belly.

This is what I’m getting.  I stalled a little longer, gazing into space. I took a long drink of ice water and blurted out, Looks like you have no money. I watched the color drain from his face as he fixed his attention on his drink.

I gathered up my cards and prepared to go home. I just blew it, I told myself. When I looked up at him to apologize, and make an excuse about it being a long night or anything else I could think of, I noticed tears swelling in his eyes.

I’m an investment Counselor, he said, and I just lost everybodys money. Today, I lost it all. I’m ruined. I don’t know what to do. I have no future. I have nothing. It’s over, my life is over.

I extended my hand, covering his own and give what comfort I could. I’m so sorry, I said. I’m really sorry. I listened as he wept and his body shook with fear. I felt inadequate offering the only thing I could truly give,  a willing ear and open heart.

Is there hope for me? he asked. Is there any hope at all? The last card in his reading had been the Tower, which signified the destruction of old forms and the enlightenment that comes after pain. Of course, there is hope, I told him. There is always hope.

I walked him to the elevator.

You’ll be all right,  I said. Believe that! The elevator door closed silently and I never saw him again.

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