A Little Class In Class Will Pay Off Later On

, , , , , , | Working | April 28, 2021

High school was a difficult time for me. I was the “smart kid”: straight-A student, top of my class, the one everybody wanted for group projects. And I was the one everybody forgot was there when recess came. I wasn’t quite bullied, but I was ignored A LOT.

To make things worse, I was diagnosed with a tricky disability in my senior year and was extremely ill, in and out of hospitals all through that year. My grades naturally slipped a bit, and at that point, the few people who talked to me regularly dropped me like a hot potato. Obviously, now that I was only a B student and couldn’t do the whole group project on my own, I was no longer necessary. By the middle of the year, only the “weirdos” from two classes below me even acknowledged I existed. (Great guys. We’re still friends!)

Fast forward several years. My disability is well under control and my career is taking off. I am to be the project manager on a big project in a prestigious engineering firm and I’m involved in hiring more people to the team. We call in a guy whose resume looks promising, and this exchange happens as soon as he is introduced to the interviewing panel.

Candidate: “[My Name]?! Wow, it’s been so long I didn’t recognize you! How’s it going?”

Me: “I’m sorry, do we know each other?”

Candidate: “What, you don’t remember me? I’m [Candidate]! We went to high school together.”

I figure maybe he is someone from another class aiming for a leg up, but I still have no clue who he is.

Me: “Ah, well. That was almost ten years ago and was a difficult time. I’m afraid I don’t remember you. But anyway, your resume…”

Candidate: “Oh, come on! You have to remember me! [Candidate]? We were in the same class all the way through! I think you even had a crush on me!”

Me: “I beg your pardon?”

Candidate: “Yeah, you totally had a crush on me! You were always up for helping me with homework, and you were game to include me on group projects and then do my share. Pretty sure you did everyone’s share! Ha, no point risking your grade being lower, right? You were a weird little girl!”

I remember him now. I did have a crush on him for a while and “helped” him a lot with schoolwork (meaning I did it for him). It’s bad enough to bring that up in an interview, but… 

Me: “Ah, yes. [Candidate]. I remember you now. You were the one who started yelling out that the [ableist slur] was coming when my disability first started. And stepping back in corridors or crossing the street when I walked by. And telling people they should stay away from the [other ableist slur] or they’d become losers like me, too.”

Candidate: “Er… I… Well, I was young, and…”

Me: “Thank you for reminding me of all this. Turns out it saves us some time.”

Candidate: “But… my interview?”

My Boss: “I think we can all agree that we’re done here.”

He seemed sincerely shocked that he didn’t get the job!


This story is part of our Best Of April 2021 roundup!

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