January 11, 2012: World Waits for You

Letter: S
CD Number: 14
Track Number 12

Song: “World Waits for You” by Son Volt from Okemah and the Riot of Melody
Listen to it here

Knocker, Bad news delivery

(Picture taken from http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-1622790/Taxman-can-make-dawn-raid-on-your-home.html)

When Glen and his friends first saw the ad in their local newspaper, they laughed. It was written in slang by someone obviously unfamiliar with the jargon. By the time it said, “keep it real” the fourth time, they were all laughing so hard it was difficult to keep reading through the tears.

A year and a half later, staring down the end of his unemployment checks with no discernible opportunities on the horizon, the ad stopped looked silly to Glen. It looked like hope. So he called. An older man who identified himself as Mr. Perez answered on the other end, politely informed Glen that the position remained open, and said he’d prefer to discuss the position and answer any questions face-to-face.

Three days later, Glen pulled up to the address Mr. Perez gave him. It was a grey saltbox with dark blue shutters. The lawn looked pristine. At the end of the driveway, a white wooden sign blew gently back and forth. The lettering informed curious passerbys that “Breaking the News, Inc.” was run out of this property.

Before Glen could even knock, Mr. Perez was pulling the door open. The older, elderly really, man looked like a taller, blacker Hans Moleman who had his DNA spliced with a turtle. Despite his obvious agedness, he walked with perfect posture at a decent clip into what Glen imagined had been a family room long ago and was now a conference room, complete with smart board, long oak table, and a beautiful buffet already prepped with a pitcher of water and a bowl of fresh fruit. Glen accepted the offer of a glass of water and a bunch of grapes and took a seat when offered.

Mr. Perez began to speak in a clear, sonorous voice, first apologizing for the ad. Evidently, the present of Breaking the News had a nephew who gave his uncle a collection of current words and phrases to punch up the ad and the president has applied them a bit recklessly. He then praised Glen for still taking a chance on it and started to advocate for the company’s credentials, explaining how long he had been with them, how they had locations in every state in the United States and at least one country on every continent. He described benefit structures, signing bonuses, and shockingly generous number of vacation and sick days even for new hires. It all sounded great but by the end of the 20 minute presentation Glen remained unclear on what exactly we do.

“Ahh,” Mr. Perez replied, nodding and smiling as though Glen had asked for the meaning of life and Mr. Perez just happened to know it. “We tell people the bad news.”

“Like, ‘You have cancer?’”

“No, Glen, that’s a medical condition we prefer to leave to medical professionals. We’d be great at the initial reveal, but the follow-up questions…we’re not prepared for that sort of thing.”

“So…what then?”

“Lots of things: ‘That girl will never love you.’ ‘Your father will never forgive you for not taking over the family business.’ ‘You are officially too old to realize insert life goal here.’ If people are realizing some of the harsh realities of life, we are there.”

“Really? But I’ve never heard of your company…”

“We strive for discretion. We’re not here to be famous, we’re here to perform an important duty.”

“How do people even know to ask you for your services? Why…why would they hire you?”

“They wouldn’t Glen. We don’t work for ‘them.’ We are not saesmen or advertisers or marketing gurus. We have no ‘product.’ We simply go where we should. If it’s benign bad news, we are there.”

“Every time?”


“How come I’ve never seen you then? I’ve had my fair share of bad news and we’ve never spoken.”

“Actually, that’s not true. Remember Philomena? From seventh grade?”

“Sure. Sat next to me in homeroom and math. I thought she was beautiful for the longest time.”

“And what happened?”

“I woke up one morning and realized she’d never be interested in me. So I decided to give it up and look for a crush who’d be as interested in me as I was in them”

“Almost right. You did not just realize. We told you.”

“…I have no memory of that.”

“That’s because we are that good.”

“No, no,” Glen began to laugh, “You’re just screwing with me. What’s the real deal?”

“Trust me, Glen, this is the realest of deals,” Mr. Perez insisted. “Do me a favor and think about that morning that you decided you would crush on other girls. Close your eyes if you’d like.”

Glen played along, thinking that even though he’d still not have a job, he’d have a great story for his friends.

“Now really remember that day. What do you see when you think back to that morning? Concentrate.”

“I’m…I’m alone in my room. I have this yearbook thing with Philomena’s picture in it and I take it out and stared at it. My heart feels so big and so sore at the same time. I put the book away and then…wait…what the hell!”

Glen’s eyes popped open and he stumbled back in his chair.

“There was someone in my damn room!” he shouted, blanching, “This guy…Spanish maybe. Short. Wearing a tweed suit. He just…my God…he’s the one that told me. How is that—”

Mr. Perez waved him off, “I can’t speak to the actual mechanics. It just is. If everyone did what you just did, took the time to really remember when they felt disappointment, let go of dream, had negative epiphanies, they'd remember we were there. But who'd ever want to do that?”

“So,” Glen shook and his voice vibrated as he spoke, “so, you guys walk around telling everyone about how their hopes and dream will never work out and everyone hears you, believes it, and just forgets you were ever there?”

“Well…yes and no. The human mind is an impressive thing so sometimes people hear the message but refuse to accept it and spend their lives chasing things we’ve already told them won’t happen. Others just plain can’t hear us no matter how hard we try. And others still see us and never forget seeing us. That’s usually an awkward situation.”

“Wow…wow,” Glen said with a heavy sigh.

“So do you think this is a job for you?” Mr. Perez asked, holding out a thin folder emblazoned with company logo and ‘company handbook’ in gold letters.

Three years later, Glen stands on the curb in front of the Feltons’ summer home. Moments from now, Tom, the youngest son, will race out the door, skateboard in hand. Glen will take him aside and quickly explain to young Tommy that there is no amount of practicing that will ever get him on the X-Games and his future lie more with selling insurance. Tom will trade his skateboard to a friend later that day and will already have forgotten why he suddenly felt there was no chance he’d ever be good enough to make it worth sticking with.

Then, it will be across town for a two-fer. First, Glen has to let Vern Dorsell that he should probably come to terms with the fact that his wife is not, ever, going to do the “weird stuff” in bed. No matter how many times he makes puppy dog eyes at her or washes the dishes. Then, he will inform Charlene Dorsell that her husband is never going to get better about covering his disappointment about their sex life and just appreciate what he’s getting.

Glen always feels a little funny about telling people bad news, but, hey, he figures, “it’s a living” and, in this economy, who can afford to turn down a job?

Reach out and touch me at tim.g.stevens@gmail.com or @ungajje on the Twitter. Let me know what you love and what you hate. And please, do spread the word.