Hate Notes(10)

By: Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward


When I finally finished my story, she sat back. “You remind me of someone I knew a long time ago, Charlotte.”

“Really? So I’m not the first unemployed, single, broke hot mess to have a near nervous breakdown while you were trying to wash your hands?”

She smiled. “It’s my turn for a story, if you have a little time.”

“I literally have nothing but time.”

Iris began. “In 1950, a young seventeen-year-old girl graduated high school and had dreams of going to college to study business. Back then, not many women went to college, and very few studied business, which was widely considered a man’s field. One night shortly after graduation, the young woman met a handsome carpenter. The two had a whirlwind courtship, and before long, the girl had immersed herself in his world. She accepted a job as a secretary answering the phones for the family business that the carpenter worked for, spent her evenings helping his mother take care of their home, and put her own passions and dreams on the back burner.

“On Christmas Day in 1951, the man proposed, and the woman accepted. She thought by the following year she would be living the American dream of being a housewife. But three days after Christmas, the young man was drafted into the army. Some of their friends were also drafted, and many of them were getting married to their sweethearts before they were shipped off to the military. However, this woman’s carpenter didn’t want to do that. So she vowed to wait for his return and spent the next few years working for his father’s carpentry business. When her soldier finally returned home four years later, she was ready for her happily ever after. Only on his first day back, he informed her that he’d fallen in love with a secretary on base and was breaking off their engagement. He even had the audacity to ask for the ring he’d given her back so that he could offer it to his new girlfriend.”

“Ouch,” I said. “Did I mention that Todd’s new fiancée is wearing my engagement ring? I wish I’d never thrown it at him.”

Iris went on. “I wish you hadn’t, too. That’s what this girl did. She refused to return the ring, telling him she was keeping it as payment for four lost years of her life. After a couple of days of licking her wounds, she dusted off her dignity, held her head high, and promptly sold the ring. She used the money to pay for her first business classes at college.”

“Wow. Good for her.”

“Well, the story doesn’t quite end there. She finished up college but was having the worst time trying to secure a job. No one wanted to hire her to run a business when her only experience was secretarial work for her ex-fiancé’s family carpentry company. So she embellished her résumé a bit. Instead of saying she was the secretary of the carpentry company, she wrote she was the manager; and instead of listing her duties as typing up quotes and answering phones, she listed preparing bids and negotiating contracts. Her improved résumé got her a job interview at one of the biggest property-management companies in New York City.”

“Did she get the job?”

“No. Turned out that the personnel director knew her ex-fiancé, knew she had lied about her responsibilities with the carpentry company, and berated her during the interview.”

“Oh my God. Like what happened to me today with Mr. Stick-Up-His-Ass.”

“Precisely.”

“So what happened?”

“The world has a funny way sometimes. A year later, she had worked her way up in a rival, smaller property-management company, and she received a résumé from Mr. Locklear, the man who had berated her during that first interview. He had been downsized from his position and was looking for a job. So she called him in with the intention of giving him back as good as he’d given it to her. But in the end, she took the high road and hired him because he was qualified and, after all, she had lied on her résumé.”

“Wow. Did Mr. Locklear at least work out?”

She smiled. “He did. After the woman removed the stick up his ass, they worked together quite nicely. In fact, eventually they started their own property-management company, and it grew into one of the largest firms in the state. Before he died, the two of them celebrated forty years in business, thirty-eight of which they were married.”