It’s another post about Melissa. But before I get any more emails asking if Melissa is single, let me just say that the single life of Melissa lasted exactly three days.
I could see it coming, really. She said, as she was trying to figure out if she should break off her engagement, “I always think I should just go move in with his best friend.”
Okay. So fine. It is not normal to have these thoughts so close to the wedding. So she moved out. And then, just as she was gearing up to tell the best friend that she wants to be more than friends, he volunteered to help her move her stuff into a new apartment.
I’m skipping the part of the story where they make out on the sofa and I’m going to straight to the official blog photo of him.
You will notice that he has set boundaries with me via Melissa, so I am not putting his picture on the blog. It’s probably better. Because the last two guys Melissa dated had their pictures on the blog, and then look what happened. Badness. For both.
So we are breaking the cycle. Instead of showing you his face, I will show you his Myers Briggs score: ISTJ. This is a good match for Melissa because he is loyal. Also, he seems to have infinite patience for Melissa.
Not many people have this patience. For a while Melissa has been pretending to be employable. But now I can tell you: everyone has fired Melissa. Including me. I fired her and got so pissed off at her that I sent her to go live at someone else’s house for three days and that person was not even, really, my friend. But look, we live out in the middle of nowhere. There are not a lot of choices.
But to be honest, I have been fired from every job I’ve ever had, too. People who get fired a lot get really good at quitting before they are fired. And also they get good at staying for a while and not working while they watch the company gear up to fire them. Managing how you are getting fired is an art form.
You can tell if you should be working for yourself by how many times you’ve been fired. When you are counting firings, consider the time when everyone hated you but you were so difficult to confront that they let you coast until you found something else to do. That counts.
The way you tell if you should work for yourself is that you are unemployable. Because look: it’s really hard to manage cash flow on your own, and it’s really cushy to have someone hand you a paycheck every two weeks. So of course, if you can manage to behave yourself at a job to have a steady paycheck, you should do that.
Melissa is not one of those people. To explain why, I have to explain that Melissa’s idea of fulfillment is sitting on the sofa, reading the New Yorker, and then other reading that’s within reach of the the far corner, which is the spot in every sofa in any room that she will choose to sit. She requires that every three hours there is someone to hear her output. That is, she has synthesized the information and determined what is important for people to know, and she needs them to respond to her. She needs someone to say, “Yeah, that’s a good one.”
Here’s what that looks like:
This is from a project where twentysomethings posed with all the stuff they own. Melissa sends me a few samples of photos and she reminds me that she also sent me, I don’t know, like ten weeks ago—she has a photographic memory—an article about how Gen Y doesn’t buy stuff. “It all goes together,” she tells me.
She doesn’t care if I agree with her. She just wants to be heard. But I admit that I clicked the link to see all the photos of what young people own.
So Melissa goes to a job, any job. And she blows them away by how competent she is. People fall in love with her. Bosses want to marry her or set her up with their best friend’s nephew or whoever they can find because they can’t let this brilliant woman with a porn-star figure slip through their lascivious hands.
Then they work with her for a few months, and they notice that she gets ornery if they demand such high output that she cannot read online. Then, if she can last five months, they start to notice that she disappears in the middle of the day. Bosses tell themselves it’s a coffee run. But it is too long. They tell themselves it’s lunch that is just a little too late. But it’s also just a little too long. And then, it turns out, they see, once, maybe, by accident, that she has found the nearest sofa, which is surely not really near, and she is curled up in the corner, reading magazines, like she doesn’t really have a job.
And then, of course, she doesn’t anymore.
So this time when she got fired, she panicked because she didn’t know if she should put her last job on her resume.
“I only lasted six months,” she told me.
“Just leave it off,” I said. “Just make it look like I was your only job.”
I do pay Melissa for stuff. I used to not want to pay her for stuff because she gets fired from everywhere. I was scared I’d have to fire her, too. But everytime someone would mess up something of mine – a media kit, my web server, health insurance – Melissa would fix it. And she would do a better job than I ever imagined could be done. Cassie even wrote a blog post about how Melissa can swoop in at the end, when everyone is screwed, and fix stuff.
So I started hiring Melissa for random stuff, because she can do anything as long as it does not last longer than one New Yorker cycle. And now her resume could be a complete train wreck of unrelated jobs she was fired from before the year was up, but instead, she looks stable and reliable because she shows that she has been working for me for years.
So I tell her to leave off the millionth job she’s been fired from. And she starts to cry. She says she is never going to hold down a job and her life is going to be terrible and she will never have stability. And while she is not saying this, I know she is also thinking that she will never buy expensive shoes again.
Back to the boyfriend. He is very excited that she is home when he gets home. It’s fun to have a stay-at-home girlfriend. So fun that he decides she can move some clothes to his house, which I could have sworn she had already done, but you know how the moving clothes in thing is: the girl does it furtively, til everything is there, and then they may as well get engaged.
He likes her being home all day and she likes being home all day, and then she starts looking for jobs and she sends them to me to see what I think.
“These are all part-time,” I tell her. “You will starve.”
Then we have a revelation. She can do part-time, project-based work. She loves that. And she is great at getting that kind of work. She can pitch herself to do anything that involves the computer because honestly, she can do anything.
Earlier in her career, like after every single job she’s been fired from, I suggested that she start something of her own, but she hasn’t wanted to. “I’m not a risk-taker,” is what she’d tell me. But at some point in a project-oriented person’s career, continuing to take full-time jobs is too risky. Because you’ll never succeed long-term, you always burn bridges, and you start to feel like you have no skills that can help you keep a job.
Melissa hits that point and she decides she is going to freelance. And she’s excited. Freelance work has always been what she should be doing, I think, but she couldn’t get excited about it until she saw it as the most low-risk option she has.
So she gets a job doing online marketing. She gets a job doing SEO. She gets a job taking photographs of kids, and then I realize she is not going to have enough time to do my stuff. So I tell her that she needs to be careful not not take on too much work. And I give her a raise, because when she’s doing what she’s good at, she looks much more valuable, even to me.