Life is Unfair and then You Die or You Write Romance
One of the reasons I write genre romance is because the good guys – the good women, often don’t win in life. They struggle. They might lose in love or fall ill. They have family troubles or money worries or get bullied or passed over at work. There are a million ways for the good guy, the good woman, to finish last.
But in fiction, no matter how twisty, now unfair, how wrong a situation is, I get to make it right.
I get to punish those who deserve it on paper. I get to protect and reward those who struggle to be good, do right, do well, be loved.
This is one of those wrong situations. It happened to a friend of mine. There is a little bit of me getting even with situations like this in everything I write.
The following is a true story. Described as a scene from an urban tragedy. The names have been changed to protect those who should be embarrassed.
Gemma: Highly qualified logistics and operations expert. Held several high profile positions in the tourism industry and is well respected and liked. Gemma has moved to another smaller state and needs a job. She’s aware she’s likely to be over qualified for many of the positions available but is ready to shift into a less stressful role and has indicated that to recruiters. Her skills are particularly relevant to the tourism organisation. They should be salivating at the chance to get her. Gemma knows the board have been trying to exit Barry for years and that Clive’s career has been a string of disasters followed by unfathomable promotions. She plans to play it cool so she doesn’t come off as difficult to work with.
Barry: CEO. Boss of state based tourism organisation. Fat. Passive aggressive. Dinosaur. Likes the prestige of the job but long since gave up contributing.
Clive: CMO. Marketing leader of state based tourism organisation. Mate of CEO. Fatter. Superior, dismissive, low talent hack. Well known in the industry for various stuff ups. Fancies himself as the next CEO.
Gemma’s interview. Gemma is seated at a meeting table in a room by herself. She arrived early to get a feel for the place and five minutes before the interview is due to start she’s shown into the meeting room. She waits. She waits. Twenty minutes later, Clive arrives.
Clive: Pokes his head in the door. Oh, is Barry not here?
Gemma: Stands and offers her hand. Ah. No.
Clive: Ignores Gemma’s hand and leaves.
Gemma: Smiles to herself. That was slightly comic. Resumes her waiting.
Clive: Returning. Barry still not here?
Gemma: Stands, offers her hand. You must be Clive.
Clive: Ignores Gemma’s hand. Leaves.
Gemma: That wasn’t funny. Resumes her waiting.
Barry: Enters the room. Oh hello. Clive’s not with you then?
Gemma: Stands, offers her hand. No, but he’s been in and out, looking for you I believe. I’m Gemma, you must be Barry.
Barry: Takes her hand. Crushes it. Yes, yes, well there’s no point starting without him.
Clive: Enters the room. Oh good, you’re here then. He takes Gemma’s outstretched hand. Crushes it. Clive.
Gemma: Thank you for seeing me today.
Barry: Yes, what are we seeing you about? Barry’s head is down on on his phone.
Clive: The operations position.
Barry: Oh, we still don’t have anyone for that?
Gemma: I guess that’s why I’m here.
Clive: No, we do have someone.
Gemma: You do?
Barry: I thought we did.
Clive: We’re really only meeting you as a favour. It’s pretty clear you’re not a good fit.
Gemma: I’m sorry, I was under the impression you were interviewing me for a job today. Has it been filled?
Clive: It will be.
Gemma: But it hasn’t been yet.
Clive: That’s not really the point is it?
Gemma: I’m sorry I’m a little confused.
Barry: Me too. Do I need to be here? Barry is playing Words with Friends on his phone.
Clive: Look, it’s very simple. We have a position open. We think we have someone who is a better fit than you.
Gemma: But you haven’t interviewed me yet.
Clive: Clive looks Gemma up and down. I think we can tell.
Gemma: Gemma can’t stop herself from blushing with embarrassment. From my resume? The only person with a copy of her resume is Gemma.
Barry: You can tell a lot from meeting a person.
Gemma: Trying to save this from the disaster it already is. Yes, I’m glad we are meeting.
Barry: Clive, do you need me to be here?
Gemma: I hope the headhunter mentioned that I’m interested in any role I can make a contribution to.
Clive: Stay, Barry. This won’t take long and we can talk about that other matter.
Gemma: Trying not to show her annoyance. Is this an inconvenient time for you? Perhaps we should reschedule.
Clive: Look, the thing is, you’re not right for this role. It’s an important linchpin position. Critical in fact.
Gemma: According to the job description the critical functions you mention are all roles I’ve held previously.
Clive: So you say.
Gemma: He’s virtually calling her a liar. You can verify with my employers. You’ll want to talk to my referees.
Clive: Waves a hand. No need. You’re not right for it.
Gemma: In what way?
Clive: Too senior.
Gemma: I understand you might think that but …
Barry: More qualified than Clive is. Laughing
Gemma: I’m sure that’s not …
Clive: Looks annoyed. The thing is you’re basically unemployable.
Gemma: Unemployable? Shock in her tone.
Clive: You just won’t find any suitable jobs here.
Barry: Much smaller market.
Clive: You’d be better off moving again.
Gemma: You might not be aware that I am currently working part time.
Barry: Well, that’s good for you.
Gemma: It’s a temporary position and I am looking for a full time one.
Clive: I’d try to hang on to that job if I was you.
Gemma: As I said, it’s a temporary position.
Barry: What we’re doing here is a favour. Barry puts his phone down on the table. Gemma can see he’s playing Words with Friends.
Clive: We’ve taken the time out to meet you today as a favour.
Gemma: I’m sorry, who is the favour for? I was told this was a job interview for an open position.
Clive: Yes, but you’re not right for it.
Gemma: Could you spend a few minutes telling me what you’re looking for perhaps.
Clive: Eyes her up and down again. Basically not you.
Gemma: I see. She wants to ask if he finds her to old, too unattractive or whether he’s bothered reading her resume, but she doesn’t.
Barry: Stands. I’ll have to go with Clive on this. His gut instinct is usually spot on.
Clive: So thanks for coming in. Stands.
Gemma: I wonder if you had any advice for me as a job searcher. Stands.
Barry: It was nice to meet you, Jennifer. Leaves the room.
Clive: I think your problem is that you’re too senior. No one is going to want to employ you.
Gemma: I understand you’ve been here for under a year.
Clive: Yes, I’m relatively new. Moved here with my family. Lovely place to live. Really terrific.
Gemma: Yes, I thought so too. You managed to get a job.
Clive: Oh well, it’s different for me.
Gemma: You’re a former colleague of Barry’s.
Clive: Annoyed. That has nothing to do with it. You’re a woman.
Gemma: Are you saying…
Clive: All I’m saying is that you’re over qualified.
Gemma: I see.
Clive: Right then. Lovely to meet you. Good luck. Leaves.
Weeks later, the position is still unfilled and Gemma is still searching for full time work.
Unknown to the tourism organisation Gemma had vital information about industry moves that could have transformed their profitability, brought new jobs and income to the state. Barry survives another board push and no one knows why. Clive continues to be a complete and utter sod to work with.
Life is unfair and then you die.
Or you write romance.