Some nights ago, during dinner with my family, my father asked me how the job-I-no-longer-have was going, and if I were overworked, underworked or neutral. As he did not know at that point that I was just a day away from leaving the job, I said it was neutral, mainly because I had slipped into autopilot mode and the work consisted mostly of brainless data entry. Then he said, “Then I don’t think this job is for you. You may want to consider looking for a new one.”
So I blurted, “Well, now that you mention it, I do have a new one!” Then I told him exactly what I would be doing come August, and then braced myself for the declarations of disappointment at my job-hopping and rashness, and threats of disownership.
Instead, my father said, almost to himself, “I think that would be the right kind of work for you. You have the talent, so you might as well do it.”
At that point I became somewhat confused. My father, who has spent most of my life convincing me that I would be doomed to fail in whatever I decided to do, was being supportive of my decision to leave the public relations profession and become a writer for a lifestyle magazine. He wasn’t ranting about how stupid I was being once again, how rash my decisions always were, and how I was throwing away a good career that I had more than the qualifications for. Even my mother, sitting at the dinner table with us, looked surprised.
I suppose his sentiments sort of stem from the high standards he placed on his children. Having been a big corporate figure himself, he thought that my first job back here, in a bank that he himself had worked in years ago, would be the best thing that could happen to me — until he realized that the environment of a government-linked corporation had not changed since the years he had been in one. And even when I left the bank to join an agency — the ‘other side’ of public relations — he still was not convinced it was the right job for me, not because, as I had assumed, it wasn’t with some other big corporation, but because even he knew that it wasn’t the kind of profession that I was, for lack of a better term, made for.
And so, it was after I had processed the conversation in my head that I realized I shouldn’t have had to be too surprised at my father’s reaction to my news. He was just being himself: totally unpredictable, and completely reliable when someone actually needs him to be. And that made all the difference in the world to me.
The very best part of the conversation was when, at the end, he said, “Who knows, maybe if you do well enough you could even be syndicated. You can write a book. Oh, I know — you should write a fictional book based on your new experience working in this country. You can call it The Social Climber.”