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Getting a Job, a Short Story by Your Parents

An excerpt from longtime VICE contributor and Broadly editor-at-large Monica Heisey's new book, 'I Can't Believe It's Not Better.'

by Monica Heisey
02 October 2015, 4:00am

Image courtesy Lynlea Combot (@lynleabinly)

Monica Heisey is a longtime VICE contributor and an editor-at-large at Broadly. Earlier this month she released her first book, I Can't Believe It's Not Better. A guide to life from the perspective of a 26-year-old comedian, it's about sex, food, and how to get fired from work. Rob Delaney likes it. You should too. Here's an excerpt to get you started.

Getting a Job, a Short Story by Your Parents

You rise early, despite having gone to sleep late at 10PM the night before. "Good morning, world!" you, their sweet daughter who they love and cherish, so talented the world is your frickin' oyster, shout out your window as morning radio plays in the background. The world mirrors your enthusiasm.

You pick out a sensible outfit—a pair of slacks (you call them slacks, everyone does) and a blazer with that kicky blouse your mom got you. She's very thoughtful, and the blouse is a perfect balance of professional and fun, because you artsy types like to be a bit different and she knows that. She gets you.

You eat a balanced breakfast because you were listening when a very wise someone told you that was important. You make sure to drink some milk, because of your bones. You remember your mom has forwarded you an article about milk and wonder what studies show lately. You double-check that the oven is turned off, lock your front door, then head out into the world with the air of a soon-to-be Employed Person. It's all happening. Today you're going to knock on some doors.

Heading into the city's neatly delineated, easy to define "downtown" area, you think to yourself glad I'm not here at night and will be able to take the subway home before dark. You're Danger Aware. You're also packing a hot Duo-tang full of printed resumes that do NOT include your Twitter handle because why would that be necessary? This is your moment. You have a university degree in English Literature and Language. You deserve this.

The first door you knock on is that of a Business Office. Everyone inside looks very respectable and stressed. They are thinking about their families and drinking coffee and one guy is making such a good joke, oh my god you should hear this joke, you wouldn't believe it, he should be a comedian. Later when you try to tell the joke to your friends you will get lost somewhere around "so the duck says to the chicken," go silent for a bit, and then just leave it. Fine.

You're not sure where in The Office to go, so you ask the receptionist to help you. She is young (40) like you (23) so she gets what you're going through. "Nice blazer," she says, genuinely impressed. "Very work appropriate." Everyone around you is wearing a blazer. This blazer is the best thing you have ever bought. The job is basically in the bag. "I've never smoked pot and there are no pictures of me drinking on Facebook," you tell her. She looks like she might pass out.

Regaining her composure, she leads you to an area marked "Interview Space." "We're basically always hiring," she says. "It's so weird to me how few people go out knocking on doors. They just don't know what's out there!" You wait for a while and read exciting magazine articles about the warming planet. You're not worried, and you're not mad at your parents or their friends or the system. You're not even thinking about sexting, which is what's been holding you back from a job this entire time. Between thinking up clever hashtags, doing selfies, and photographing your genitals for just whoever, you haven't had time to get a job. You're not mad at yourself, you're just disappointed. That's on you.

You know this, in your heart of hearts, but you only really feel it now, looking at this New York Times article about youth culture. How do they know? How do they always know?? It's like looking into a mirror, if people were constantly predicting the death of mirrors. You consider getting out your phone to update a post on your Facebook page, but remember something your dad said about professionalism. And he's right, because he's still with it. You're glad you never got those tattoos all your friends seem to have these days.

Finally, the boss comes out of her office. "Please, step into my office," she says. She is also wearing a blazer, but you can tell hers is of a better quality. She probably listened to her mother when she said that it makes more sense to spend money on fewer items of clothing that are better made. It does.

Inside her office are the hallmarks of the life you want: a novelty mug, photos of her kids doing various activities requiring an upper-middle class income to participate, a computer, a motivational poster (advertisement for mortgages), and a landline. She sits down at her desk, your resume in front of her. She looks like that actress from that thing... Gennifer Gerswhin? She's got hair. You know her. From the film.

"Great resume," the lady boss begins. "Thanks!" you say, politely. You feel good because manners are their own reward. "And you're on LinkedIn," she says. "That's good, very good. We can't hire anyone these days without a LinkedIn profile." You're killing this. Could you be any more prepared? (That's a reference to popular Matthew Parrish character Charnler Bing, from the show with the couch.)

"Wow, a university degree?" She raises her eyebrows, blazer-level impressed, and makes some notes on her pad. "English language and literature? You might be over-qualified..." You hold back on telling her about your minor in Roman history, lest she be overwhelmed. In a gesture of extreme interest, your future boss Leans In. She looks over your extracurriculars, tutting thoughtfully as she pictures the contributions such a talented amateur canoeist might make in a corporate setting.

The interview is zipping along nicely when you hit a snag. "It says here you stopped taking science in 10th grade," the boss says, flipping through her detailed notes. "Why'd you shut that door?" You don't have a good answer. You should have continued taking science, and you know it. "Mostly, I'm just eager to learn, and ready to do whatever you need. I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty, and I work well independently and as part of a team," you say, with a poise and intelligence suggestive of a person who could have easily passed grade eleven science if only they'd applied themselves. The interviewer smiles.

"Well, of course you can have the job. All we're ever looking for is a motivated self-starter who's willing to take initiative," she says. Normally, your twentysomething hands would be straining at the fingertips to avoid tweeting your good news, but even the sweet allure of Tweeter can't pull you away from the joy you feel at this new position. "It's a competitive salary, with full benefits, obviously, and a pension, and full-time hours. You know, a job! That's what a job is."

A quick handshake and a signed contract (which you read in its entirety), and your new status as an employed person is secure. You're heading out into the sunshine—putting your headphones in before you're even out the door, naturally—when the boss lady's voice stops you in the hall. "Hey kid," she says. "I think you'll be needing this." She takes off her blazer and throws it to you. "See you Monday," she says. "Wear that scarf your mother got you, it looks so good with your hair."

Follow Monica on Twitter and buy I Can't Believe It's Not Better here.