Being a ‘newbie’ writer doesn’t pay much. If anything at all. And that’s fine – instant riches would be nice, which is why I buy a lottery ticket every week. I’m sensible enough to realise there’s as much chance of me hitting the jackpot as there is in me selling multi-million copies of my scribblings. I don’t write for money (though I’m certainly not against earning lots from it). I write because I can, and because it’s fun.
Being a ‘professional gambler’ doesn’t pay much either. Sure, if you have lots of money in your kitty to start with then hundreds can be made on a daily basis. If you’re like me – broke – then there isn’t much in the kitty. The pitiful amount I have in my online gambling account allows me to place bets which, when/if they win pay only a modest amount. I’m terrified every time I place a large bet. It’s definitely not good for the heart or for the stress levels. All in all though I’m ahead of the game, and do manage to pay a few bills with my meagre winnings.
So a part time job was called for. The income from that, combined with my gambling winnings, and the small amount I earn from proofreading and editing for various other writers would give me enough money to get by on.
That was the plan, anyway, when I submitted my CV for a vacancy for a part time job in a local convenience store. Not glitzy or glamorous, but selling to people is something I can do, and I enjoy it. That was in November last year, and as I didn’t hear anything back from them I assumed they didn’t want me.
Until yesterday, when I received an email from the manager of the store inviting me for an interview with his Area Manager. The interview was this morning, at 11.30am. Right, I thought, that’s very handy. I’m not conceited enough to imagine the job was as good as mine, but I figured I had as much chance as everybody else.
I arrived at the store five minutes early. I was ushered straight into a cluttered office. A small man behind a large, untidy desk rose to his feet and introduced himself as Mr. Wanker*, Area Manager for this and various other stores in the locality. *name has been changed for legal, and petty, reasons.
We shook hands and both sat down. Mr. Wanker got right to the point and informed me that a part time vacancy may arise in the future, and if it did I’d definitely be on the short list. This was said with a flourish of my CV which he held in one grubby* hand. The other hand tapped a pen on the desk. Annoyingly. *his hand wasn’t actually grubby, but this is my story and I’ll tell it as I see fit.
May arise? In the future? On the short list? Why am I here then?
I sat and looked back at him, smiling slightly as I said “that’s nice,” as smoothly as possible.
Mr. Wanker peered through thick glasses*, his piggy eyes squinting* as he looked back at me. Eventually he grunted, and flicked to the end of my CV. “This is what I’m really interested in,” he said. “The section at the end entitled Hobbies and Interests.” He took his pen and circled said section several times, as if I was unsure what was written on my own CV. *his glasses weren’t all that thick. He may or may not have had piggy eyes.
“What is it about the section that interests you?” I asked mildly, unsure where this was heading.
He cleared his throat dramatically. “Well, it says here that you’ve published a short story. A horror story.” He fixed his gaze on me once again. “On Amazon!” he finished triumphantly, as though furnishing me with a new and exciting piece of information.
Thanks for telling me. I never realised. Good job it’s on my CV, or I’d never have found out.
“That’s correct,” I replied, “I have indeed published a short story. A horror story. On Amazon!” I felt a terrible sinking feeling as I realised where this so called interview might well be heading. I smiled, gamely playing along. “I have several other stories I’m currently working on too. Writing is something I really enjoy doing.”
Mr. Wanker took off his glasses and polished the lenses with the end of his tie. “My wife, she… uh…” He huffed warm breath onto a lens and continued to polish as he thought about his next words.
If you tell me she’s always wanted to be a writer, and ask me to look at her manuscript, I‘ll grab that pen off your desk and stick it in your eye…
I stared back at him, jaws clenched, fingers twitching. Some job interview this was turning out to be. I could sense the possibility of a job in the store flying away, to be replaced by… by what, exactly? Murderous rage? Possibly. Hopefully. It might brighten up the day.
“My wife,” Mr. Wanker continued, newly cleaned glasses perched back on his nose. I could see a faint smudge on one lens. Useless. “My wife, she’s always wanted to be a writer. She’s written a few things, and her bridge club colleagues all say she has excellent potential!” He was positively gushing. “Maybe… maybe you could possibly…” My hands gripped the arms of my chair, fingers turning white from the strain. “…read through them. See what you think, from a professional point of view. Maybe give her a few tips. Even help her to get published?”
I was out of my chair in a flash. Before Mr. Wanker could react, I’d grabbed his tie with one hand, pulling him towards me. My free hand slapped the badly cleaned glasses from his face, grabbed the pen and buried it in one surprised grey eye. I shoved him back in his executive chair, smiling contentedly as he let out a breathless scream, fingers of both hands fluttering over the foreign object protruding from his deflated eyeball. Biro’s are so very useful.
Back in the real world I sat ramrod straight in my chair, smiling grimly. The guy was taking the piss, in such a serious and straight laced manner it was almost funny. Almost. It didn’t quite make it.
“I’d gladly take a look at Mrs. Wanker’s work for her, Mr. Wanker. I charge £— per thousand words for proofreading, £— per thousand for copy editing, and £— for creative editing. I’ll also publish her work through Curtiss Creations, for a percentage of any profits.” If he could take the piss then so could I. His face dropped as I spoke.
“But I thought… well, maybe you could do it as a favour. I know my wife would appreciate it.”
A favour? Kidding, right? Maybe you could give me… oh, I don’t know… a paying job? You know, as a favour. Dickhead.
“Time is money, Mr. Wanker, ” I said as I stood up, “as you’ll no doubt appreciate. And I’ve wasted enough of both by being here. I’ll see myself out. Good day.” I grabbed my coat and headed for the door.
“Well, I take it that’s a no then. Oh, she will be so disappointed. I assured her you’d cooperate as well…”
Cooperate? Really? I didn’t know I was your pet writer.
Ignoring the obviously strong urge to turn around and help Mr. Wanker play with his pen, I continued out of the office and headed home, after grabbing a bottle of wine to toast his piss taking with this evening. My imagination, meanwhile, supplied all sorts of interesting, painful, and some downright horrendous events to befall Mr. Wanker.
I won’t be holding my breath about the job.
Back to reading the Situations Vacant section for me.