Sell Me A Three-Legged Chair

“Well, what happened?”

I sat bewildered for a moment, inattentive to the question raised by the interviewer as I found myself inadvertently piecing together my mistakes over the last six years until I returned back to the interview.

I simply answered that “I took a different career path” and bridged off into why the prospect of a role in customer service at a smart alarm business was something I was passionate about.

Sell me a three-legged chair…

Whilst my soul knew this position would be a sideward career step and not an advance from go, I still needed to collect my £200 and carry on around the board even though I was playing as somebody else’s playing piece. A top hat playing as a thimble.

After jumping through a series of hoops and a face to face interview whereby I was asked how I would begin selling a metaphorical three-legged chair in a parallel universe, I didn’t get the job.

With reference to the interviewer’s inquest, I was asked what had happened to my career in journalism and how one went from wanting to write about film and television to a career in guiding the ill-equipped through the changing of batteries from their smart alarm systems. Not so much a role in journalism but at least I could interrogate when the opportunity presented itself, it’s all about the transferable skills you see.

I recently read The Big Issue Presents ‘Letter to My Younger Self’ devised by Jane Graham. A collection of a hundred honest letters to younger versions of famous names such as Paul McCartney, Danny DeVito and Mo Farah.

Whilst both inspired and provoked, I (as many probably have done upon finishing the collection) was keen to think about the things I would include in a letter to a younger version of myself. In this instance, what a letter to the keen undergraduate student looking to craft his trade in Newcastle would include, circa 2014.

I could tell myself anything, see your friends around the country more, cherish your time at festivals and enjoy 2017 because that’s when you looked at your best. But, I’d probably warn myself about how a brief moment under a bridge during the early hours of the morning after a night out would teach me about fickle loyalty.

How I didn’t need to clench my fist under that bridge and strike my unknowing (and passive) counterpart whose involvement (like mine) was to try and break up a fight between the intoxicated aggressors of each of our ‘friendship groups’ as we walked home. Toxic masculinity isn’t attractive.

I could tell myself about how cowardly I’ll feel afterwards, how one punch can sear a reaction and guilt into my consciousness, no matter how drunk I am at the time. I think it would be easy to forewarn myself about how two pints will give you hangovers passed the age of 22 or which relationships will cause the most harm but I wouldn’t want to impede myself from the lessons I’ve learned.

I could tell myself that I’ll be the happiest in my career when I’m wiping down an empty bar after serving the unrelenting New Year’s Eve crowd at five o’clock in the morning on a zero hour contract.

Or perhaps, I could tell myself that I’ll be at my unhappiest when I’m waking at five o’clock in the morning to arrive at a nine to five desk job early enough to combat an exhaustive workload. Again, much like my relationships, I wouldn’t want to forbid myself of these punishing experiences.

But, why wouldn’t you want to warn yourself? I hear you mumble into your mobile device, or at least I ask myself whilst waking in a cold sweat following a day of interviews. The truth being, I don’t think it’s the why, I think it’s the worry that concerns me. I worry about who I’d be today if I’d have received that letter from a future me.

He’d likely be a safer, cautious and perhaps a well-adjusted individual who doesn’t need the aid of rain sounds to drown out his thoughts before falling asleep. If it’s all the same, I think it’s ok to have not heard from me, six years ago.

I recently watched Avengers: Endgame again, I think we’re on the twentieth showing in our household now. The time travel always fascinates me, Bruce Banner explains it best how if one is to change something in the past, they’ll create a new timeline, a branched reality of the current lineage. If there’s any truth in the matter then I’d like to think there is a reality I’ve written to my younger self and I’ve made somewhat of a more successful life for myself because of it.

But for now, I’m happy selling metaphorical three-legged chairs in a parallel universe and that’s ok too.

So, interviewer, what happened? I took a different career path.



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Bailey Spray

Author (Melancholy Days (2022) ~Amazon~). Journalism Graduate. Ordained. Referee. Uncomfortable.