A fictional, inspirational tale written for a local men’s clothing brand called Bogart Man.
Back in 2013, I was a down and out man. I didn’t know this at the time. But in hindsight, I am now able to understand my state of mind at the time and how my vulnerability and insecurity influenced probably the best decision I’ve ever made.
I used to have an incredible girlfriend, a partner in life. I thought that this was it and that I would end up marrying her and raise beautiful children with her. Little did I know, life had a very different plan for me.
When I lost my job in 2012 due to retrenchment, she left me. I thought she loved me for who I was, but in actual fact, she couldn’t handle this hic-up. She couldn’t stand by me while I worked through this dark and difficult time. Instead, she decided that she couldn’t imagine being financially uncomfortable for a little while until I could get back up onto my feet.
The loss of her and my job crushed me. I wore old clothes and moped around feeling sorry for myself. I felt like G-d owed me. I was angry! I couldn’t understand WHY? I didn’t deserve any of it. I was a church-going man who planned to have a family who I would support and love. The whole situation was so emasculating. How was I supposed to move on feeling like less than a man. My self-loathing thoughts made me spiral into a deep, dark hole. Nothing mattered. All I could see was misery. I felt like I deserved nothing. I WAS nothing.
One day I went to Eastgate Shopping Centre. I was going to see a movie! Yes, on my own. It was a Saturday and people all around me were smiling, shopping, chatting and just enjoying their day off. I had a good 6 months off. Still no job, and if I’m honest, I wasn’t trying very hard. I walked past a Bogart Man store.
I saw a “SALE” poster in the window depicting a MAN. A REAL MAN. He seemed so happy, laughing holding what looked like a whiskey, a woman beside him with his arm around her while she topped up his drink. I thought to myself, “do these people really sell this dream?”
I felt angry again because I couldn’t understand how clothing could buy you happiness. I was angry because I had spent so much of my past’s hard earned money on good clothing, and look what had happened to me!
I walked in there out of pure frustration. I wanted to TEST them. How can your stupid, little pieces of fabric change a life? You liars!
I walked in there, arrogant, as I looked around me. Portraying an image of “I can have anything I want here”. I wanted to feel like I “COULD” again. I was seeking validation. Craving that old feeling of “I can have what I want.” I wanted to LIKE nothing so that it wouldn’t even be an option to purchase, had I even had the funds.
I was greeted by a warm friendly face, who asked if he could help me. In my mind I was thinking: “you have no idea how much help I need”. But what I responded was, “No, I’m just browsing.”
The gentle face came toward me two minutes later with a suit that they had just unpacked. It wasn’t on the shop floor yet and it was my size. The Face said, “Sir, would you like to try this suit on? I think it would look so good on you. You are tall and you can pull off this blue colour”. I never ever imagined blue to be my colour. But seeking that GOOD feeling, the feeling of success, I reluctantly said, “OK.” After all, I did have some time to kill.
I came out of the change room looking and feeling like I was in a magazine! The Face smiled behind me. I could see it in my reflection. The Face said: “take it. You can’t look like this and walk out of here looking the way you came in”. Suddenly I realized that he could see the frumpy clothes I was wearing before, and that my whole arrogant “I-can-have-what-I-like” act wasn’t fooling anyone. The Face saw through me. And didn’t judge me.
The money I had left in my account was literally IT. This had to get me by until I found my next source of income.
I don’t know what on earth came over me, but I bought that suit. I actually walked out of the store wearing it because The Face said that I should, and the feeling it gave me was that past, successful, happy feeling that I was so desperately longing for.
I proceeded to the nearest coffee shop as I still had 30 minutes left ‘til my movie.
I was writing in my notebook. Working out some things, shuffling around my diminished finances, and writing down options of what I could do next. Should I apply for another loan? Sell my home? Etc. I went to the bathroom and left my notebook open next to my cup of coffee. When I came back, a man was sitting at my table. It was like looking at a reflection of myself an hour ago before my Bogart splurges.
He said to me, “I’m so sorry to pry, but I saw a part of your page that caught my eye. It seems like you are helping someone with financial options, and I am all out of options. I assume that you are a financial advisor of sorts and I really, really need your help.” I was stunned. He continued, “Your suit tells me that you know what you’re doing, you are clearly good at what you do”, he said with a soft and anxious grin. This took me by surprise! I didn’t immediately correct him. I couldn’t crush his last hope of my helping him. I didn’t want to shatter the final power he had left in him which he had used up to actually approach me. I simply could not tell him that I was in the same boat as him. I played along. I sat with him and he told me his story. I got all of his documentation and all of the relevant details about him and his finances. This man had more than a “financial advisor”. He had a friend and somebody who believed in him. And I found that in him too. I also needed that friend and confidant.
I did actually HAVE real ideas and options for him, so I wasn’t scamming him or feeding him bullshit. This man really did stand a chance in life!
5 months later, Jabu started up his own service company. Today, he is a successful wedding and events caterer. Jabu was so grateful toward me that he gave me shares in his business. Not only that, I am now a financial advisor for 20 different successful business entrepreneurs. I had found my calling. The universe had rewarded me. I had no idea that I knew more about finances than other people. I had no idea that I had this talent and power to help people achieve their full potential in their careers. All because of how successful and talented that suit made me seem.
The fulfillment is like no other. And today I sit proudly in my office, staring at the photo on my desk of my beautiful wife and baby boy, wearing my 12th Bogart suit. I am so proud. I am so blessed.
I am a Bogart Man.