He had long learnt that ego was not a friend. Having abandoned it as he left the apartment that morning, Zach had found himself walking into job interviews no degree holder would apply for. The last one was the one he was most overqualified for, but with no reason to back away, he confidently strode into the coffee house.
Honestly, Zach was not sure what job he could get in the popular joint. He had no experience as a barista, but he could work the cash register. It was a major step down from his previous job in pay and position, but he was willing to take what he was given.
“I’ll get the manager,” the cashier said, and Zach quickly stepped out of the line.
After waiting for a few minutes, a man casually dressed greeted him with a handshake. He was then ushered to a quiet corner away from the crowd.
“Would you like to see my resume?” Zach asked, just as they sat down.
It never dawned on Zach at that moment, but it became a habit of his to insist on showing his resume. When he realized how useless it had become moments later, he wished he had never brought it up.
“Er, sure,” the manager replied.
The manager briefly flipped through the file as courtesy, before going straight to the point.
“We’re basically looking for a cleaner. Someone to mop the floors, wipe the windows, and clean up after the messy customers. If you want the job, I’ll give it to you.”
Zach was genuinely surprised at how quick it was for the manager to decide on taking him. Compared with the other interviews he had attended earlier that day, none of them made up their minds immediately. Then again, none of them were looking for a cleaner.
“The pay is five an hour, and the working hours is eight to eleven.”
“Weekends too?” Zach asked. He did not want his job to affect his chances of ‘winning’ Skypeak.
“Weekends too, but you get a day off in the week. Sounds good?” the manager asked, eager to get it over with.
Zach looked at the manager and hesitated. And then as though the world had quieted down for him, he began to hear his own thoughts; thoughts about how young the manager looked and how he was probably still in university. Thoughts on whether the job was worth taking for someone who had studied so hard in hopes to earn a good pay. Thoughts on why it seemed almost impossible to be hired in the area he was good at. Was it his face? Did it have ‘loser’ stamped on it?
“If it’s taking you this long to decide, I-”
“No. It’s just that I have something to do on the weekends. But only for the next few months,” Zach quickly responded.
“Well, we don’t want to have to hire a weekend cleaner. So…” the manager trailed off.
There was an awkward moment of silence after that. Zach questioned if his livelihood was more important than the clubhouse. If he didn’t get a job soon, he was not sure if he would survive. He was behind on rent and his savings would be hitting double digits soon. Perhaps he could continue on his job search, but was he willing to take a gamble? Zach loved playing it safe and he was no risk taker. Then again, he didn’t play it safe during the first task at Skypeak.
For the first time in his life, Zach actually decided to take a risk. But that was also because Jodie seemed convinced it would work. Handing back the envelope to Ms Leona without even attempting to do the task sounded insane. Yet to his surprise, Ms Leona accepted their reasoning with a smile.
“Sometimes, you just have to jump,” Zach recalled what Jodie said.
“And what if you fall?”
“If the fall doesn’t break your legs, you won’t have to see the doctor.”
“If it does?”
“You still have your hands.”
“And if you die?”
“You’re stupid to have jumped.”
“I don’t get your logic.”
“You don’t jump unless you know how far you’d fall. It’s a calculated risk.”
“You could have just said that.”
“I like to sound clever.”
Zach chuckled to himself, and then he made a decision.
“I’ll pass on the job,” Zach confidently said.
“Took you long enough,” the manager replied with a short laugh, before giving him a friendly pat on the shoulder and returning to his job.
Did he make the right decision? Zach was not sure, but he did calculate the risk, and the worst that could happen is him pounding on his brother’s door unwelcome. He no longer had his ego, so there was nothing to bruise.
Deciding he had enough of that long day, he got to his feet ready to leave. That was when he heard someone say, “Good call.”
Turning around to see who it was, he found himself tongue tied as he responded with a nod. Even without his pride, he could not help but feel embarrassed that Matthias had heard it all.
“If you really need a job, I can give you one,” Matthias offered.
“Don’t be shy. If you were seriously considering mopping floors, my offer would be music to your ears.”
Matthias was right, but his proposal felt strange. Was Matthias being nice, did he pity him, or was he planning something?
“You don’t have to answer me now. Take my card and give me a call tomorrow,” Matthias said, as he handed Zach his business card.
“What job is it?”
“A good one,” Matthias simply answered before walking off.
Zach would have to sleep on such a random offer, but he ultimately had to make a decision. Zach had to choose.
(For the chapter list, visit here.)