I never liked my neighbors. I never liked their uppity attitudes and their flannel shirts. I never liked their horrible pit bull that growled every chance it got, or the many bikes that *Michael used to leave dangerously teetering against the wall instead of actually securing to the bike rack. Their love of one another irritated me too, especially when I had brief run-in’s with them and they’d tell me what terrible-smelling vegan meal the other one was cooking for dinner. I never liked *Lisa’s habit of ignoring the mail for days, just letting it drop to the ground.
But Lisa and Michael just broke up.
Last week, I went on three job-related interviews. I sported my favorite accent piece– the use of that silly term for a garment is just for you, Monica Perry– from my days as a Tory Burch employee, a bright yellow cardigan with a gray pencil skirt. Wearing that outfit makes me feel like a true adult, so much so that I usually don’t change clothes for an hour or so when I get home. I talk on the phone in it, make the bed in it, pay bills in it. And I answer lots and lots of questions about my diverse work history in it. The interviews went very well, and are already yielding results.
It was on the way to one of those interviews that I saw a big pile of trash outside of my door. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be family photos, a printer, a few jackets, and other random things that Michael had once owned. Now they were soggy, probably with dog urine, and Lisa had successfully gotten revenge. In a single night, she hauled their dead Christmas tree out, along with anything that reminded her of Michael. He cheated on her at a bar with a woman with a mustache, and he spent all of their savings on more flannel shirts and tattoos. Now you’re wondering how I know this, aren’t you? I know because only a woman who’s been cheated on would take the time to shred cords to speakers that your former boyfriend loved. I’ve never been cheated on, but golly, I know what a broken heart looks like. It looks a big pile of Hefty trash bags, that’s what.
In each one of the interviews I was asked how well I’m able to operate Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, and the Outlook email program. I answered them with a half-truth, telling them that I was equally good at all three. The fact is, I can do just about anything when it comes to typing or writing, but not so much when it comes to making spreadsheets and the like. The interviewer that I liked best was positive and perky, and she made me feel like I really could do the financial formulas she was quizzing me about. Again and again I answered yes. I didn’t mean to lie. She just, you know, got me so excited. And that’s when she said, “Ok great! I’d like to keep your scores on file, so if you wouldn’t mind, take the tests for all three programs when you get home and email them back to me by tomorrow morning.”
Amber, my roommate, had just settled back on the couch when I blurted out what I needed her to do. She happens to work with the Excel program all day, and I knew she could ace the test. I also knew that having my roommate take the tests for job placement could be considered cheating, so I sat next to her as she commenced answering questions where the answers were things like ‘Ctrl+V’. I answered every question on my own…and then opted to put down the answer that Amber said. When I emailed my results back, the recruiter personally called to congratulate me on doing so well. And I’d done so well that she was no longer considering me for front-office jobs, but the harder, higher-paying jobs in an accounting division instead. Me…numbers…accounting…no. As I hung up, I pinched myself. You fool, didn’t the debacle with Michael teach you anything? Cheaters never prosper. Or if they do, they wind up sitting with nerds doing accounting work.
This weekend was supposed to be my opportunity to rest, but I can’t rest when there are things to be done. Like cleaning the stairwell in our building, for example. There are only two apartments in my building, including mine, and our landlord doesn’t do things like tidy up after us. Lisa left so many pine needles from the Christmas tree on the floor that I was slipping on them every time I went in or out. I put on workout clothes, and did the dirty work. It took me longer than I thought it would, but it was made better by me coming upstairs and finding Brandon on the couch. He had the look in his eyes, the one he’s had ever since my roommate came home with Guitar Hero. The look says ‘I want to play the video game, but I’m watching sports, so don’t even think about watching television for the next few hours’. He is obsessed with playing it. I go in my room to pray, and I hear Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” floating under my door. When he tired out recently he came into my room where I was half-asleep, bragging on his new score. He tried in vain to get me to join him, but I was too far gone. So while wiping a little puddle of drool from my face, I buttered him up with compliments so he’d go play the game some more and leave me to sleep.
“That’s…great. You’re Lenny Kravitz baby. You’re…Jimi Hendrix. You’re Prince. And I’m…your…sexy back-up dan…cer.”
Events continue to happen, rough patches keep getting smoothed out. Every place I see an obstacle, I wield my hammer.
Written to: Ray Charles “Night and Day”, Aerosmith “Dream On”, T.I. “Big Things Poppin'”, Def Leopard “Bringing On the Heartbreak”
and for Lisa– Toni Braxton “Love Shoulda Brought You (Home Last Night)”