Other People’s Problems – Self-Worth

“I don’t think I’ll get the job.” Teresa sighed as she tapped her tablet to open her resume. “The interview team was very nice, polite and pleasant, but they didn’t give any indication of their decision.”

“It’s a very desirable position,” said her daughter, Sara. “There must’ve been hundreds of applicants. It’s smart not to get your hopes up. Doing the interview was good practice. The best approach is to forget about it and move on. Maybe find something more suited to your skill set. Have you considered retail?”

“I thought it would be perfect for me.” Teresa scrolled down the screen. “I followed the Google template and listed my formal education and work experience. I spend six years at Hammerstein and Smith before I had you, and did temp work all through college, but the time gap does seem glaring. ”

“Mom, you’ve been off the job market for thirty years. Your skills are out-of-date. Employers are looking for strong computer skills… an in depth knowledge of Microsoft office, including Excel.”

“I know how to use a computer. Besides it’s a receptionist and general administration position. I wouldn’t be expected to do spread sheets… anyway, I don’t think so.”

“In today’s workplace everyone is a generalist. Someone seated at a reception desk could very well be inputting data or typing correspondence as part of their routine.”

“See here? I listed my work as chair of the school’s parent council and my role as secretary of the municipality’s environmental action committee. I though those would illustrate that I’ve kept my skills alive.”

“Volunteer work does not carry much weight in the corporate world, Mom.”

Sara’s cellphone buzzed. “Just a second… I’ve gotta take this.” She turned and conversed in a whisper that sounded dramatically conspiratorial.

Teresa gazed at the slim profile of her daughter’s back. She had to make an appointment with her daughter to debrief the interview. As the community’s most successful realtor, Sara had much more political expertise and confidence. She’d been raised to believe that a woman could compete equally and was never intimidated by her male colleagues.

“Just a sec…” Sara held the phone against her heart. “Sorry Mom, this is a million dollar deal. I’m going to step into the next office for a second.” Her heel’s clicked on the terrazzo floor.

Teresa gazed around the pristine office. Every item was in its place, a visual demonstration of the order that existed within her daughter’s mind. The decor struck Teresa as efficient… and soulless.

Teresa’s phone chirped. There was no identification. “Hello. Yes, this is Teresa. Oh, hi. Really? That’s wonderful. I’m excited about this opportunity. Monday? Sure. Where’s the HR department? Okay. Great. Yes. You have a good weekend too.” They wanted her.

Sara returned. “Sorry about that, Mom. I’ve a mid-century modern with an in-ground pool, floor to ceiling windows and a completely renovated kitchen. The commission will pay for Belize this winter. You know how I hate the cold.”

“Yes, that’ll be a nice getaway.” Teresa leaned forward, elbows on the table. “So… about the interview—“

“Okay, here’s what I have to say about that. The reason you didn’t get the job is because they’re looking for someone young and fresh. Thirty years as a homemaker has created a skill deficit and negatively impacted your sense of style, but… that can be fixed. There are lots of courses at Continuing Ed. and you could learn some basic computer skills. Your outfit, the bright pink jacket, is a little over the top for an executive assistant. A law firm wants a more conservative image to staff their front office. I’ll take you shopping. Don’t worry about running up your credit card. The debt will be worth it. And then there’s your hair.”

“What’s wrong with my hair?”

“Sweetie, you know I love you, but you’ve had the same hairstyle for decades.”

“You dad likes it likes it like this.”

“He’s hardly a qualified fashion consultant.” Sara laughed. “Let me check my calendar. Bonus. I have a cancellation on Monday morning. Why don’t we make a start then?”

“Sorry, honey. I’m busy on Monday.”

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Marion Reidel, Upper Canadian Author with a wicked sense of humour. Buy her book, visit her on tour, and also get the tattoo.