Watching us from the sidelines, mother burst into thundering applause. My father and Emma, my seven-year-old sister run towards me, ready to embrace me in this momentous victory.
“You did it son! Who are you? Messi?! What a goal!”
Don’t expect the type of tense, nail-biting victories you see in the Euros or World Cup. Father and Emma always give me an open shot, though they try to do it as subtly as they can.
It was a typical Saturday morning. While mother prepared an assortment of fruits, the rest of us prepared for a one-of-a-kind soccer tournament. It’s one of a kind, because really, there’s no opposition team – they’re all on my side.
“Thanks, Dad.” I smiled and replied to his hug.
After showering, I was ready to go to “Jack’s house”. Although today, Jack’s house is a euphemism for the career center, Jack’s house was the only house my parents entrusted me to go to myself. You see, Jack’s just like me. Being like me, is perfect for them. They won’t have to excessively worry about meal times, not being taken care of and the other hundreds unspoken rules on the list.
On my Way to “Jack’s House”
“Bye mom, bye dad!” I closed the door as I walked towards the bus station – headed towards the “Jack’s House” – or for today, the unemployment center. Jack had already explained to his mother of the scenario, and they were in on it. I’m not as careless as you might think.
Plastered on the entrance wall of the unemployment center was a poster that shouted at me: “Dream big. We can help you.” Six promising words as a premise of the new life that will soon unfold in front of me. No more sitting at home all day, no more feeling guilty seeing father and mother try their best to reassure me that they are fine all the time.
If parents are heroes, my parents to me are merges of the greatest superheroes of all time – Thor, Iron Man, Spiderman, Black Widow, all the Avengers and DC heroes combined. This was my shot to try to repay everything they have done for me.
Sitting on a black leather couch, I tap my foot every two seconds, waiting for my name to finally be summoned and my dreams to be unlocked. Half an hour in, a lady in her mid-30’s yell out, “Mr. Dobson?”
The lady beside me lifted her eyes from the Times Magazine clutched in her hand. She looked at me – subtly, but noticeably.
Yes. I’m not like you. Funny isn’t it? What a mystifying curiosity you must be puzzled with.
I gave her a confident smile and stood up – my files held tight in my left hand and my briefcase in my right.
“Hello, Ms. Dorothy!” I extended a hand to offer a firm handshake. It was reluctantly met with a polite smile and hesitant shake on the far end tips of the fingers.
We sat down for the next few minutes, going through the questions – name, date of birth, interests, education. Blah blah blah, what’s new, you know?
“Wait, you’re thirty-four years old, correct?”, Ms. Dorothy asked.
“That is right. Thirty-five in two weeks.”
Her eyes panned to the corner of the room, her look of surprise was mirrored in her coworkers face.
“Mr. Dobson, please excuse me for a while. I have to check….um…I have to double check some legal documents. Don’t you worry.”
As Ms. Dorothy exited the room, I observed the frames hung around the walls of the rooms. Army generals with badges pinned to their chest, doctors with a stethoscope draped on their necks with tens of awards placed on the cabinet behind them and of course, the newest millionaires on the market – all furnished with the words, “We can help you reach your dreams.”
The words poured a jolt of excitement. They can help me too.
I tapped my newly polished boots to the rhythm of Pharell Williams. They can help me too.
Ms. Dorothy walked in, with a faint smile on her face. This was it, the long hours of preparing for the interview, writing statements and request proposals are about to pay off.
“Mr. Dobson,” she started. She looks down, her fingers fidgeting as she tries to find the right words. “I regret to inform you that we are unable to process any of your requests, sir.”
The tap of my boot slowly dissipated, the enthusiasm drained away by the words. I look to the left in an attempt to find solace. There it was, “We can help you reach your dreams.”
Dreams. Of course, it was a dream. I had expected too much. Asking for any justification for the decision would just make it more awkward for Ms. Dorothy.
“Thank you Ms. Dorothy.” I headed out the door, my files still held tightly in my left hand and my briefcase in my right. At least I gave it a shot.
As I stepped out from the bus and headed towards the entrance, mother and father were already waiting by the doorway.
“Dobson! You’re home! How was your day at Jack’s?” They hugged me tightly.
“It was good.”
I wasn’t lying. It is a good day. Any day back at home with my parents is a good day.