April 19, 2018 | Rome, Italy | °C

The résumé

When do you start being's a friend's mind? Photo by Magritte.
By Madeline Klosterman
Published: 2018-03-28

here are times when a friendship is tested. When the basic tenets are questioned. I was waiting for a train in the New York City subway when that moment arrived in the form of a simple text from my friend Javier.

"Dear friend. How are you? Can I call you?"

I responded I was at the Times Square station. I would be home in an hour.

"Can you phone me then, when you get back home? I need to ask you a favor. I need to refresh my résumé ASAP and wondered if you could help me."

I was coming off a long day. I was in no mood to think about someone else's work history. And though Javier was a dear person, he wasn't known for his organization. Helping would mean more than a final edit. I dreaded the call when I got home.

When we spoke, Javier was in a panic. "Can you come to my office tomorrow? I know it's Saturday but it's not only my résumé. I need to write a cover letter for a job I want. I have to to submit it on Monday. I'd really appreciate it if you had any time at all."

I took a deep breath. True, this was the last thing I wanted to do on my Saturday, but isn't this what friends are for? I grudgingly agreed.

When I met Javier the next afternoon at Wall Street, he looked rattled. Dark circles hung heavy under his brown eyes. He clearly was not well.

"I'm miserable," he said. "The job I have is taking the life out of me. I can't sleep. I toss and turn. I have to get out of here. That's why I need your help." Then, without waiting for my response, he began handing me papers.

"This is my CV. It's 10 years old and needs an update. This is the job I want to apply for. This is what I want to include in my cover letter, though I don't know how to write one." He paused to push his hair off his forehead. "I'm completely overwhelmed. I don't know where to start." Then he sat down, handing the task over to me.

Conflicting feelings rose up in my chest. I felt for Javier. I know how it feels to be in a miserable job. At the same time, I didn't want to be included in his crisis. I took a deep breath and tried to muster some compassion. But all I could think of was, How did I agree to this?

I took the pile of papers and began to sort. I scanned each page for relevant information. I highlighted and took notes. But I was annoyed and my mind kept drifting. Bigger questions crossed my mind.

What does it mean to be a friend? Do you help in situations in which you'd prefer not to be? What do I do with the resentment I'm feeling?

These questions swirled as I queried Javier about his job responsibilities, his strengths and skills. In time, my focus stayed on task. I organized, typed, and formatted. The cover letter and résumé came together line by line. And in the end, he looked like a star candidate.

When I handed Javier the final copies, he was visibly relieved. "Oh my gosh. This is amazing! How can I ever thank you enough? I couldn't have done it without you."

I forced a smile and gave him a hug. Then, relieved of my friendship duties, I wanted only one thing: leave.

I walked into the late afternoon light. The sun bounced off the New York Harbor and the imposing Custom's House cast a shadow over the Bowling Green Park. Tourists gathered around the Wall Street Bull for their once-in-a-lifetime photo. I was relieved.

And when I left to catch the subway home, I again wondered about the nature of friendship. What does it means to support another? Had I done the right thing by our relationship? As the train arrived, I concluded it was best considered later. I'd done enough for one day.

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Madeline Klosterman

Often mistaken for a foreigner, Madeline lives in Brooklyn and works in Manhattan.

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