By Paul Newport
On the day that our highly anticipated interview was to air on a local D.C. news program, I had a very important conversation. While I was not at first aware of the importance of this conversation, its significance later gave me a lot to ruminate on. The three witches in Macbeth and the Oracle at Delphi when consulted by Oedipus were probably received with the same lack of awareness. But we will often be struck by lightening-powered revelations of certain forewarnings further down the line, and the lessons we learn from their outcomes can be invaluable.
The conversation I had was via text message with my good friend, Nish. Nish’s first sentence read, “Look, I just want to manage your expectations.” He went on to write that our interview segment may not develop into the exclusive feature we were hoping for. I have known Nish since we were years old. He witnessed me get rejected by Dara Zelnick in the 5th grade and in New York City, listened to my many lamentations about auditions with no call-backs. Nish knows well how disappointment can sink his friend.
“Oh sure, absolutely,” I’d texted back in a confident and emotionally mature fashion. I added a “thumbs up” emoji for good measure. But I was not worried in the slightest. Hard work pays off. Coronavirus has dictated that most news interviews be done remotely, so after getting the go-ahead from the TV producer I had confirmed my applicant, Keith Gaffney, as spokesman for the segment. I then enlisted our executive director as the camera person and dressed up in a killer shirt-sweater combo for my close-up. Another blog post could (and will) be written about this Zoom-produced interview alone. Our little team had pulled off a master feat. We deserved an Emmy.
I have certainly been down this road before, however I felt like this time it would be different. The work of Jubilee Jobs – its inspiring history of changing peoples’ lives, its thousands of job placements, its integrity, its humility – all would make a phenomenal broadcast. All these altruistic values, this unconditional compassion, would be rewarded with well-earned acknowledgement on prime-time TV. But if you weren’t watching closely enough, you might have missed it. Nish had been right. How had he known? All the magic, all the anticipation, all the expectations, boiled down to just 28 seconds. Expectations be dammed.
The fact that a news program graciously gave Jubilee Jobs a shout-out is a tremendous honor. You can never complain about being given a spot on the news unless of course that’s the last thing you want! But this experience helped me understand the incredible amount of work we still need to do in order to advance our applicants and their accomplishments. While there is full awareness of the essential work that must be performed on the hazardous “front line” during this pandemic, there is very little recognition of who actually performs that work. I chewed the side of my mouth as it became apparent that the welfare of those who perform many of the essential and more menial tasks is not yet a part of the national conscience.
Some expectations are more easily met than others. In my current role I accept that, despite our most sincere and optimistic efforts, we will need to show much more patience, compassion and generosity in order for our committed applicants to receive a fraction of what they deserve.