Sunday Stories: the man who couldn’t sell himself
‘Sit down’, he said: ‘Sit down’. I sat down. ‘Look up’, he said: ‘Looking up projects self-confidence’. I didn’t look up. There was a silence. I looked up. He had turned sideways looking out a window. His feet were up. I looked at mine. ‘I mean well’, he said. We both did. ‘Sorry’, I said. ‘Don’t be’, he said swiveling on his chair: ‘I mean well’. ‘I know’, I said.
It was something. Just about enough for him to tell me what my problem was. I knew what my problem was. He was not it. I was it. So he told me, telling me he probably wasn’t the first to tell me. He wasn’t the first. ‘You’ll need to learn to sell yourself’, he said. I looked up. ‘Why’, I asked. He turned sideways to the window again. I looked out of it as well. Maybe why walked there in the streets. ‘Why not’, he asked. Why not? I was puzzled. I left another silence. Silences irritated him. ‘Why not sell yourself’, he insisted. I felt the need to answer quickly.
I didn’t (answer quickly).
‘You’re wasting my time’, he said. I stood up. ‘Sit down’, he said. I sat down. I looked up. ‘You learn fast’, he said swiveling to meet my eyes; smiling also. This got to me. ‘I do as I’m told’, I said. Get it over with. Smug brainwashed brainwashing bastard. ‘You judge me’, he said, stressing the you versus the me. ‘Sorry’, I said. ‘Don’t be’, he said, in a gotcha kind of way. This was not his first time at this. Nor mine. It could well go on for half an hour or so.
‘You can be as talented as shit,’ he said loudly, ‘if you are not able to sell yourself, nobody will notice.’ No shit. Pounding his desk and all. Working up a fist. I looked down, squeezing my knees. ‘This stresses me out, sir’, I said. ‘Sorry’, he said. It wasn’t like I didn’t want to explain. He meant well. I meant well. I took a breath and said: ‘I am just not comfortable being noticed, sir.’ He gave up on me. ‘That is nonsense,’ he said. It wasn’t. He swiveled again, neither smile nor fist. Silence was less an issue now.
‘Everybody wants their work noticed’, he stated. ‘True’, I replied truthfully. I asked whether I could leave. I left.
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