Five hundred LinkedIn connections

The Ex-Executive Assistant, a story published on Tuesdays and Thursdays in a limited number of installments
"The Ex-Executive Assistant" is a comedic story about a young man who loses both his job and his girlfriend on the same day.

Recap: At a party thrown by old friends, Lyle runs into Chad, a fellow journalism major he knew years ago in college. Lyle tells Chad about his recent job loss, and how he hasn’t worked in the journalism field for years because of the poor economy. Lyle’s already-low spirits sink even lower when Chad tells him that not only did he used to work for the New York Times, but that he’s now a production assistant for a local TV news station. 

“You know what you should do?” Chad asked. “You should go back to work for the media. That’s your true calling. Forget your secretarial career.”

“You really think so? I had my heart set on living below my potential.”

“Seriously, bro. You try applying at the newspaper?”

“I worked at the newspaper for two years. They laid me off.”

“So? Maybe they’ll hire you back.”

“They’re losing subscribers and hemorrhaging money. They’re not exactly in a hiring phase.”

“The whole industry’s going through a transition,” Chad said. “It’ll all turn around. I’m sure of it.”

“I hear people say that, but how can you be so sure? It’s not like anyone truly knows the future.”

“Actually, Irene once recommended this psychic to me. She really does know the future. Either that, or she puts on one helluva good show.”

“Did any of her predictions come true?” Lyle asked.

“Yeah. She said I was on the verge of losing a great sum of money. Of course, my appointment cost three hundred bucks, so maybe that’s what she meant.”

“I’ll take an industry analyst over a psychic any day. And the ones I trust are saying newspapers are dead.”

“I really wouldn’t know,” Chad said, raising his shoulders. “I was smart enough to land a job in television before the whole print industry imploded.”

Lyle nodded. “Forward-thinking has never been one of my strengths. I’m usually too busy lamenting the past to give much though to the future.”

“You want sage advice?” Chad asked. “I’ll give you sage advice. If you want to get anywhere in this life, you got to use your connections. That’s the only way. It doesn’t matter how much experience you got or how hard you work. All that matters is who you know.”

“You might be on to something,” Lyle said. “I’ve gone the hard-work route and never gotten anywhere. The problem is, I don’t have any connections.”

“What about your old co-workers at the newspaper?” Chad asked.

“I’m sure they wanted to help, but most of them were laid off, too. We all went out and applied for the few jobs out there. It was the occupational version of musical chairs, and I was the one left without a job when the music stopped.”

“So that’s when you got your secretary gig?”

“Yeah.” Lyle nodded. “It paid a little over minimum wage, but it was all there was. I got the job because I had newspaper experience.”

“Did you spend a lot of time editing and proofreading correspondence?”

“Not really. I fetched my boss the daily paper each morning during my coffee run.”

“No wonder you never got anywhere,” Chad said. “It sounds like you never had any connections. If you want to achieve anything in life, you need actual people advocating on your behalf.”

“What people?” Lyle asked. “I don’t know any people. Not anymore.”

“You crazy? Everyone’s got people. People make your life complete. You got no people, you got no life.”

“Well, then,” Lyle said, “that answers one of my questions.”

“If you don’t got people, then get some people,” Chad said. “Introduce yourself. Make friends. Network.”

“Network.” Lyle scoffed. “What does that even mean? People throw that word around as if it carries any weight.”

“It does carry weight. It carries a lot of weight.”

“No, it doesn’t carry weight. It carries no weight. In fact,” Lyle said, holding up a finger, “it’s completely meaningless. It’s one of those buzzwords corporate-types throw around to sound smart, like ‘synergy’ and ‘future-oriented.’”

“I’m future-oriented,” Chad said. “That’s why I network.”

“Right. And I suppose networking creates synergy?”

“That’s damn straight, man. I wouldn’t have synergy if I didn’t network.”

“All right,” Lyle said. “What about you, then?”

Chad frowned. “What about me?”

“You said I need connections. How about you be my connection? Maybe you can hook me up with a job at Channel 4.”

“No.” Chad shook his head. “I’m not a connection.”

“You’re not a connection?”

“Not a connection.”

“Well,” Lyle said, “I kind of think you’re a connection. You know who I am.”

“I don’t know you well enough to be a connection.”

“You don’t know me well enough? You immediately recognized me after ten years, but you don’t know me well enough?”

“I don’t know your character. For all I know, you might be a slacker. I can’t go around endorsing no slackers.”

“I’m not a slacker!”

“You don’t have a job, and you don’t network. It raises the question.”

“There’s no question to raise! I’ve just had an unfortunate streak of bad luck.”

“So says every wine-swilling hobo living on the streets. One in New York had that exact phrase scribbled on a piece of cardboard. He said it was the mantra that got him through his day.”

Lyle clenched his teeth. “You mind if I ask you something?”

“You can ask me anything. My life’s an open book.”

“Do you have a LinkedIn profile? I bet you do, don’t you?”

“I do have a LinkedIn profile — but you have to have an account to see it.”

“Some open book.”

“It is an open book. You just have to have a LinkedIn account to see it. There’s a prerequisite involved to view my open book.”

“All right, then,” Lyle said. “How many connections do you have?”

“How many connections?” Chad shrugged. “Maybe five hundred.”

“Five hundred connections?”

“Give or take three, yeah. I can’t remember if I sent requests to the Elko newspaper staff.”

“OK,” Lyle said. “Let me ask you something else: Do you know each of your five hundred connections personally?”

Chad grinned. “You’re expecting me to say ‘no,’ right? You want to accuse me of befriending people I don’t know so that I can look good on paper and climb the corporate ladder. Well, sorry to disappoint you, but I know each and every one of my five hundred connections personally. I don’t befriend anyone I haven’t worked with.”

Lyle’s face fell. “How is that possible?”

“Because I get out there, man. I meet people. I engage. I network. You ought to try it. It could change your life.”

“Maybe I should get on LinkedIn,” Lyle said. “It’s probably time. I’ve been avoiding social networks for years now.”

“What is it you don’t like about them?” Chad asked. “Is it because they’re so public?”

“No — it’s because they’re so social. I’m not one for getting out and meeting people.”

“Well, then, call me crazy,” Chad said, “but I think we just found your problem.”

Author: Allen

I’m a humorist and fiction writer, as well as the author of two books. One is a collection of humor, and one is a collection of short stories. Both books are available on Amazon. I always wanted to write a comic strip, but I can’t draw. Not even a stick-person. So that’s why “The Lawn-Cutting Crew” is a comic strip without drawings. I hope you enjoy!

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