At 11:00 p.m. on an unseasonably chilly night, as my friend’s scanty collection of beers ran dry and he was burning down his last few heaters, we were about to call it a night. As he snuffed out his final cigarette, I got a few desperation texts from a friend who lives a town over and needed another set of eyes to read over her résumé.
I’m an idiot savant of sorts: I still barely understand how to do taxes or file for financial aid and I can scarcely operate a smart TV, but I have a flair for résumés and cover letters. Knowing I do all my best work with a buzz, I asked if she minded meeting me at a restaurant she worked at. She agreed.
Ten minutes later, I slid into a booth next to her and began to look over the damage.
“I need help formatting this part – make it look like all the rest,” she pleaded.
I began to play with the spacing, cells, and columns. The program wasn’t cooperating and I could tell she was already frustrated.
It was a mess. The formatting was all over the place. The font differed between sections and was unreadable in some areas. The organization was nearly nonexistent.
“Look, I think we should just nix the whole thing and start from scratch.”
“I don’t have time to do that. I need to update this and print it tonight. I have an interview with a bank tomorrow morning.”
I thought about it for a second. It was going on 11:30 p.m. and I remembered I had work and class the next day, so I was in no hurry to get home and sleep.
“I’ll just redo the whole damn thing. I can get it done before last call, guaranteed.”
“Okay. Can I pay you for it? People usually charge for this stuff.”
The offer caught me off guard. I’d never charge a friend for what I considered a favor, but she grew insistent. At first, she offered me upwards of $50. There was no chance I’d accept that much for something I could do seeing double. She dropped to a Jackson. I still refused. Then I remembered: She was still on the clock.
“Comp my tab and we’ll call it even,” I offered.
She agreed to the terms and turned her laptop over to me. I moved to the bar and moments later, she slid a long island in a 22 oz. cup in front of me as I started over on her résumé.
Like a scene out of a movie, I worked feverishly to redo her résumé. Sweat rolled off my temples. My wrists began to cramp. Glasses began to pile in front of me as I put away more and more liquor. And the liquor bred discontent. As I drank, I grew even more critical of my work. I would mull over the syntax of single experience descriptions for ten minutes at a time.
The clock was my enemy. This had to be done by 2 a.m., and it was almost midnight. I dabbed my brow and slid my cup back to the edge of the bar. I began adding line dividers, changing the spacing of left and right cells, cutting, pasting, deleting and moving. Then, disaster struck.
As I put what I thought were finishing touches on the document, the final section spilled over onto a second page. I threw my hands up in disgust. I never realized what I had signed up for when I agreed to fix her résumé. In a last-ditch effort to compress the writing to one page, I adjusted the bottom margin. Better, but not good enough. I would need to adjust the top one too.
Panic began to set in. It was almost 12:10 a.m. There was no feasible way I’d have this finished by 2. I hadn’t even bolded any section headers or reformatted any bullet points. I was hitting peak drunkenness. I feared I would begin sobering and lose my creative edge.
But I pressed on. I checked my battery life: 87 percent. I needed to work faster. I lowered the brightness and continued fixing the bullet points. Minutes came and went and little progress was made. I was stuck between using dots or dashes for bullet points. Time dwindled before I made a snap decision: Dashes.
I wasn’t out of the woods just yet. Last call was a mere hour and 45 minutes away and I still hadn’t saved.
As I fixed the last column, relief washed over me. All that was left was saving it to the cloud. I dropped the file tab and tried to save. The save failed. The computer had no network connection. For a moment, I thought all was lost. What would happen if we couldn’t save? Was the work all for not? I feared the impending failure. I thought I had let my friend down.
I moved onto plan B. I saved the document to the computer’s document storage. She’d have to figure out a printing scenario on her own. As the cursor turned to the rotating save icon, I held my breath. My heart was pounding. Seconds seemed like hours. We could lose it all right here, and with the hour hand inching evermore towards the 1, trying again wasn’t an option.
The résumé saved successfully.
I asked for a Jägerbomb to celebrate and my friend poured herself one, too. We clinked glassed and I began to show her the sweeping changes I made. I beamed as I explained my rationale for the font choices and spacing. I stuttered as I tried to explain the subtle differences in the margins.
“Uh huh. Okay. Nice. Alright.”
Though she seemed more indifferent than amazed, I knew, deep down, she was as relieved as I was to be finished. Then, with one more full hour of free drinks at my disposal, I continued to rack up a $150 tab before stumbling out of the bar (with a full wallet) and puking on the hood of her manager’s car, which ended up getting her fired.
Man, I really hope she got that bank job..