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Gabbi WernerGirl Friday – the Book of Bad 03. Career Opportunists

Von | 12.04.2013, 9:00 | Kein Kommentar

Once upon a time when yuppies emerged from dollarbills they had conjured up effortlessly, I had no job. But I had dreams.

Welcome. To the stories I told in many hotelrooms. To a man who had trouble falling asleep. A business deal, men usually pay for different services in hotelrooms. He just paid for my words. Here they are.


Hotelroom, Metropole Hotel, Brussels.

When it was time to go to R. I figured it might be polite to ask him more about himself. This time, I would ask the questions and get the conversation going. I could pretend to myself that I was to interview him.

I knocked on the door. He opened it, still in his business suit.

„How was your day, what will you tell me?“

„Nothing much to tell“, I answered, „walked around a bit, took a bath, how was yours?“

„That´s not the deal! I want to shut down, I want to go into another world. The privacy of my own mind will not help me do so. I know myself well enough, thank you. You, on the other hand, I don´t know. I need your privacy. In want to invade the planet of your thoughts.“

He walked over to the electric kettle and made some tea.

„Did you ever think this would be your career? A storyteller?

I told him that once, in The Eighties, I had thought of something like this. It was the time the yuppies emerged from out of nothing more than the dollarbills they conjured up so effortlessly. The yuppies had fascinated me immensly. They represented everything my generation had been taught to loath: they were ruthless, efficient, rich. And loud about every single one of those qualities. They did not mind that money could not buy style and class, as long as the label spelled „expensive!“ they would satisfy themselves in it. Movies, tv series, videoclips, wherever you looked, the broad shouldered neatly combed formalists looked down at the mere mortals the rest of the world were. It was never clear what they had achieved, they had not invented anything nor done any good to society, they just were very good at collecting vast amounts of money and spending it at according pace.

Back then, I was unemployed. Since I had enough time to sleep, I thought I could sell my dreams – they were rather exiting and exotic- to tired businessmen who didn´t have time for the luxury of sleep.  There was no way to achieve this technically, so I never got to the selling part.

R. was surprised by my chosen unemployment.

„Really, you had no job back then? I started working when I was twelve. Counting the money I made was so good. I would pick up nails and other iron stuff I found on the streets, collect the iron, you know, then sell it. Made me nice pocket money. So you did nothing for a living…. What did you do all day, tell me that story.“

And I did.


Career Opportunists

„The other day I when I was rummaging through my paperwork I found the draft of a job application a friend of mine once sent to a local museum.

‚Dear Sirs,

on behalf of my unemployment benefits I herewith send you this letter. If you would be so kind as to send me an answer, stating that you do not have any job for me, it would be most highly appreciated.‘

Mind you, those were The Eighties, when being unemployed was considered a fashion statement and having a job was an equivalent to selling your soul to that old devil called corporate United States of America. „No Future“ was the soundtrack to our everlasting leisure.

So, we made a career out of being on the dole.

Our mornings were spent sleeping, our afternoons with applying make up and at night we would go out. Guys would buy us drinks, other guys had put us on the guestlist, so life was easy, life was good.

To fulfil our duty towards social security, we would sit together one afternoon each month and write the perfect job application letters.

True perfection lay in the fact these missives were written as if there was serious intent of getting the job. Our potential bosses had to be motivated into writing  a refusal.

We needed at least three written rejections every half year, so you can envisage the hardship of our labour at my kitchen-table.

We were the stars of the turndown: the details we added in our letters made sure that we would, in the worst case, be invited to a job interview.

At a certain point, we started to enjoy these interviews more than the writing itself. Looking back, I think we promoted ourselves to a higher level of the cold-shoulder business. There was a kind of competition between us to see how well each one of us fared in achieving the ultimate goal: to fail to get the position most majestically – by subtle use of occasional swearwords, meticulously applied dirt under the fingernails, or by cunning display of complete under-qualification for the easiest job.

Ingredients we made sure were used sparingly, but effective nonetheless.

In case of emergency, when the employers were desperate to take on just about anyone (which was probably the reason we had to show up in the first place), we always used our ultimate secret weapon: in the middle of a sentence, we would lapse into complete mental withdrawal and stare at the left earlobe of our unintended employer whilst seeming to fade into the realms of consciousness for about just an instance too long. After this stare, we would continue our story as if nothing had happened. Repeated three or four times in ten minutes, this simple action was a guarantee to success: the rejection letter could be expected within less than a week.“

To be continued. Next friday. Every friday.

Link to German Translation: click Girl Friday – Buch des Bösen 03. Karriere-Opportunisten

Artwork: Gabbi Werner

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