When People say “no”

       Years ago when I was finishing up my studies at Ohio University, I was preparing to job search and began so by checking on campus.  I interviewed with a personnel director from the suburbs of Chicago.  I remember the situation very clearly.  At the end, I was told that I had a fabulous résumé with good grades, great experiences, and that I interviewed well.  I was also told, to my surprise, that although everything seemed in order, that I would “never make a good fit” in the north suburban area of Chicago.  Needless to say, I was shocked; I had thought all had gone really well.

Fast forward several years.  I was teaching in the suburbs of Chicago as was my wife.  She, in fact, had brought us to Chicago.  Two teachers looking for jobs, each of us sending out well over 500 letters a piece to mainly the northern Ohio and Illinois areas, but to other parts of the country as well.  She managed to procure a position in a high school in Burbank, Illinois but was looking to change as it was a “no future” type of position.  Being newly married, we needed every dollar we could get as the beginning teachers’ salaries were not exactly overly generous and we had a tiny house in the western suburbs of Chicago, but needed to make a change. 

Mary Kay started her job search and low and behold found herself contacting the school district with the personnel director I had encountered earlier on.  She interviewed, was actually offered the job, but declined it since it was only part-time with no future.  Before declining the job, however, she said to the Personnel Director, “Do you remember my husband, a French teacher who interviewed with you on Campus at Ohio University?”  Mary Kay said that his face lit up and he said, “Yes, a talented young man who was hell bent on teaching on the North Shore?”  Mary Kay said, “That’s him, he is now teaching at New Trier High School.”  At this point, apparently his jaw dropped, New Trier being the arch rival of his school and actually with a far better reputation. 

I found out later that my good man, the personnel director, had the exact same background that I had, coming from a mainly working class milieu, in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio.  He had also attended Ohio University, hence his being there to interview candidates. 

The moral of this story, which I took to heart in dealing with anyone from that point in my life, is that one should never assume anything.  In spite of the way people may appear to us, there is no reason for any of us to shatter dreams by saying something harsh to them.  For many individuals, it is crushing, demoralizing, and can harm them forever.  Luckily, my situation wasn’t like that and I learned a terribly valuable lesson.


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