“Dan, it’s great to see you!”
Surprised, I whirled around in the bustling airport terminal.
“Oh, hi, Chuck, how are you?” I responded, holding out my hand and smiling.
Chuck is my parents’ longtime friend, an upbeat kind of guy.
“It’s totally beshert that I ran into you,” Chuck said. “I’ve been looking for someone to help me in the store. How would you like a job?”
Wow, talk about miracles! On my way home from college for summer break, I wanted and needed a job. So many expenses come up, and I like to be independent and not run to Mom and Dad for every nickel and dime.
The impending job search was weighing on me, though: Sending out résumés and doing interviews can be tedious and time-consuming. Like manna from heaven, this fell into my lap. Awesome! Plus, I like Chuck, and working in a Judaica bookstore sounded like a great opportunity.
“That would be fantastic, Chuck,” I said. “What are the hours, and when do I start?”
Chuck laughed at my enthusiasm. “You can start today if you’re ready. I’ll familiarize you with the different sections of books so that when a customer needs help, you’ll be able to assist, and I’ll show you how to work the cash register. How does that sound?”
“Absolutely awesome,” I said. “I’ll see you a little later then.”
Whistling, I went to collect my luggage and greet my parents, eager to tell them of this development.
Working in Judaica Gems was everything I imagined it would be. The store had a tranquil atmosphere, and I enjoyed meeting people who wanted to deepen their Jewish knowledge. Some times were busier than others. During the interludes, I spent time devouring the books.
A week later, Shirley Burke, who runs Ta’am, a kosher meat restaurant a few doors down, walked into Judaica Gems.
“Dan, good to see you,” she said. “Chuck told me you’re working here, and I thought maybe you can help me.”
“What can I do for you, Mrs. Burke?” I asked.
“Well, I’m looking for some help in the restaurant, and I thought maybe you would know of someone who needs a job. Do you have a friend who might be available?”
I thought of Mark Banish, a good friend desperately seeking a summer job. He was having a hard time with his search, and I thought this could be his lucky break.
I jotted his name and number on a slip of paper and handed it to Mrs. Burke.
“Mark is a great worker and a terrific people person. You won’t find a better man for the job,” I said.
“Thank you, Dan,” Mrs. Burke said, flashing a smile. “I really appreciate your help.”
Sometimes Mark and I waved to each other as our paths crossed when we were coming to work or leaving for the day. It was a good feeling to know I had helped Mrs. Burke and my good friend — until everything imploded.
“Dan,” Chuck told me one day, “you’re a great worker, and I appreciate all of your efforts. But I don’t have good news for you.”
I waited for the ax to fall.
“Business has slowed down a lot during the last few weeks, and right now I simply can’t afford to keep you on. I feel terrible to do this to you, but I’m going to have to let you go. If anything changes, you’ll be the first one I call.”
“That’s it?” I said, trying to rein in my fury. “No notice or anything?”
“I’m really sorry,” Chuck said, and I saw contrition in his eyes. “Hopefully sales will pick up and I’ll be able to call you very soon.”
“Thanks,” I said curtly.
If I had started my job search when I got home, I probably would have found a suitable position. But with the summer half over, what am I supposed to do? No one will hire me for such a short time.
As despair was overtaking me, I had a brainstorm.
Striding into Ta’am, I greeted Mark and Mrs. Burke with a smile.
“Mrs. Burke, do you have a minute?” I asked.
“Sure,” she said, showing me into her office.
“I’m wondering if you have any openings for an additional worker,” I said. “Chuck’s business is down, and he basically can’t afford to have me on staff right now.”
“Oh, that’s too bad,” Mrs. Burke said. “Well, I know you’re a great asset to any establishment. Chuck raved about you, and I heard compliments from his customers, too.”
“If I decrease Mark’s hours, then I can slip you in for some time,” she said. “That’s the only thing I can offer you.”
Part of me is inclined to accept Mrs. Burke’s offer. After all, I was responsible for getting Mark the job. But there’s another part of me that feels guilty for even considering the idea, like I would be trespassing on someone else’s territory.
Is it fair that I agree to employment that will necessitate diminishing Mark’s hours?
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