The Irony of Life

Jon splashed a last handful of cold water into his face and gazed at his reflection in the mirror. His brown hair was neatly swept back, his green eyes looked restless behind the gray frames of his glasses. Ever since Jon got laid off from his last job in 2008, he had not discovered one task that could keep him occupied. Initially, he had thought he would stay out of the job market for a while.  After all, it’s not like he didn’t have money.  His friends kept reminding him (a little bitterly) that he was a trust fund baby; he worked not to secure a living, but just to have something to do.  He reasoned that in these economic conditions, there were other people that needed the available jobs more than he did.  Soon after he made the decision, though, he felt restlessness creep into his bones, and realized he would have to keep working in order to keep his sanity.  There were two things missing from his life: a job, and a relationship.  He figured that he could fix at least one of those things. For weeks he searched for a job— and finally he found one for which he fit the job description. This interview at Jam Enterprises, Inc. would save him from a life sunk in boredom.

Jon stepped out of the men’s room and headed toward the waiting room. Upon entering, he was dazzled by the sight of a beautiful woman. Her red hair fell primly on her shoulders and she was busy checking her BlackBerry. As he entered the room her hazel eyes glanced up at him and she smiled. “So are you here for the interview, too? I guess that makes us competitors,” she said good-naturedly.

Taken aback he replied, “I guess so. What’s your name?”

“Laura Adams, and you?”


“Just Jon?”

“Errr… Jon Williams,” he admitted reluctantly.

“Nice,” she said with a grin.

Jon smiled back. “So, are you also trying to get back into the job market?”

“Getting into it, period. I’m fresh out of grad school—got to pay off the student loans and start a life.  I couldn’t believe it when I got called for an interview; I never thought that I would be able to go for such a great job straight out of school,” she admitted, biting her lip a little nervously.

“Yeah, the job market’s tough these days.  It says a lot that you were able to get this interview in the first place.”

Laura gave him a grateful look. “Thanks.  I’m pretty nervous.  This job would be a dream come true, and I’d give anything to get it… but I don’t have any work experience.  That’s some catch 22, isn’t it?  People want to see experience before they give you a job, but you can’t get experience without the job in the first place.”

Jon suddenly felt that of the people in the room he was not the most interested in the actual job.  Suddenly feeling bored didn’t seem like a very good reason to go to work.

“Jon Williams?” called the secretary.

“I guess that’s me,” he said as he rose to go.

“It’s either you or the composer. It’s certainly not me!” Laura laughed and then added, “Good luck!”

He felt anxiety as he entered the room. Behind a desk sat a suited man with stern features.

“Jon Williams? Any relation to-”

“No!” And then regretting his rudeness, Jon amended, “No, common misconception, though.”

The man laughed and continued, “Alright, Jon. Let’s have a look at your resume. You seem very qualified—you spent five years at Smash, Inc. and have a very good work record.”

As the interview went on, Jon thought back to the young lady waiting outside. She was really interested in the job ahead, he almost felt guilty about taking the job from her. After all, the economy was so tough these days and she had no work experience, if she didn’t get this job, there was no guarantee that she would get another offer. He remembered the reason why he decided not to work in the first place, and realized that he wouldn’t feel good if he ended up with the job after all this.

Without thinking, Jon interrupted his interviewer. “Listen, sir, I know this is unconventional, but there is a young lady sitting out there who is probably a lot more interested in this position than I am. I think that you should consider her for the job. She’ll provide the passion in this job, and would truly be a great asset to this company.” He felt embarrassed about his sudden outburst and wondered why he had just defended this girl he had met only minutes before.  Well, all right, he knew why he did it.  She was cute, and her passion was inspiring… but mainly because she was cute.

Still embarrassed, he left the room after a confused handshake with his would-be employer. Laura was sitting just where she had been.

“How did it go?”

“I think it went pretty well. Don’t outdo me in there!” he tried to jest.

She cocked an eyebrow questioningly, but turned to go with a ‘thanks’.

“Wait—can I um—well, what I mean is—Laura, can I maybe have your number? Maybe we can get together and chat about, you know, the industry, the weather, world peace, you know whatever you want,” he mumbled in an effort to lighten the mood.  He didn’t want this outing to end as an entire disaster.

“Sure, that sounds like fun!”

As she pulled out a notepad, Jon said, “Maybe we can plan on like getting coffee on Saturday or something?”

“Oh, well I can’t do that; I’m spending the whole day with my boyfriend.”

Disappointment struck Jon as he heard her say that.  He thought about the job he could have had. He still took her number, and joked that maybe he could ask her for references after she got this job. As he turned to go, he thought about the irony of life. All he had to look forward to was more restless nights and uninspired projects.  There were two things missing from his life: a job and a relationship. Maybe that’s just the way things are, he thought dejectedly. With that, he walked to a coffee shop to reflect. As he sat down at one of the tables, a beautiful woman walked in and asked shyly, “Is this seat taken?”


4 thoughts on “The Irony of Life

  1. Alysia

    Nice story, with honesty, empathy, and heart! I like the balance between the heaviness of characters trying to figure out how to live out the next step of life and the lightness of the jokes, joy in meeting someone, and the ability to say thank you but no thank you at an interview.

  2. mmm?

    Moral of the story…? Maybe life is not all about work like most think it is, it’s about love? This is a concept from Good Will Hunting. Nice.

  3. Vasumathi Sriganesh

    Short and sweet. While some people may call this kind of a story unreal, I believe it can happen. Much more importantly I believe such things MUST happen. I hope people enjoy the story, tuck it in their memories and then the story inspires them to do good things at some time!
    Looking forward to the next!


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