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Greek-American Stories: Yiannis, An Honest Man

Yiannis was not in a good humor that wintery November Sunday in Dixon’s. Of course, that didn’t escape the notice from the others seated around hmm but, Dimos was the first to mention it. “OK Yiannis. What’s bothering you? You know you want to tell us. So, let’s hear it!” Stirring his coffee, Yiannis looked around at the others, hoping for some sympathetic expressions from loyal friends. Then, he began. “Well, remember me telling you I applied for a job at that new store that opened up in my neighborhood?” George, straight-faced, asked, “you? Applied for a job? Sounds really serious! Did Areti lose her job?” Yiannis looked across at him, smirking. “No, she didn’t, wise mouth.” Then, addressing the others, he said, “but, I figured that, working in the neighborhood, I didn’t need to use a bus or train. It was close to my apartment, and I could go eat and take a nap upstairs at lunch hour. I was trying to be practical.” Dimos nodded. “So, why the long face?” Taking in a breath, Yiannis pulled out a folded sheet of paper and handed it to Dimos. “I filled out that application, took it to their office and – that was that! They read it and then they actually laughed and then handed it back to me.” Taking it from Yiannis’ hand, Dimos took it into his and looked it over. After a few minutes, he said, “Hmm!” As the others watched and waited, there was another, “Hmm!” Losing patience, Yiannis asked, “Well? See anything wrong?”

“Well, Yiannis,” began Dimos, “let’s analyze your responses. For instance, it asks here, Salary expected. You wrote, ‘Yes!’” Grimacing, Yiannis said, “well, I won’t work for nothing, y’ know.”  Dimos continued. “Here it asks why did you leave your last employment. You wrote, ‘it was something the boss said.’” Looking up, Dimos asked, “What did the boss say?” Shrugging, Yiannis replied, “he said, ‘you’re fired.’” George, curious, asked, “you, actually, had a job – that – hired and fired you?” Stirring his coffee with vigor, Yiannis growled, “you don’t know everything, oh, great seer! I worked a few days at that cafe downtown.” John asked, “what happened there?” Yiannis, reaching out for a donut, said, “it was a misunderstanding. I was asked to water the plants by the window and I watered the wrong ones. I didn’t know they were fake plants. It flooded the entrance. Then, they told me to mop it up. I said that wasn’t my job. So, they told me to leave. I did!” Dimos continued reading his rejected application. “It asks, here, ‘why should we hire you?’ And, you wrote, ‘because I live a couple of blocks from here and you’re looking for an employee. Why else?” With a look of pride, Yiannis responded, “I was telling the truth, y’know. I’m an honest man.” Looking at the rest of the application, Dimos, trying to suppress the urge to laugh, handed the application back, and told him, “sometimes, honesty can go too far, Yiannis. Where it asked, ‘what questions do you wish to ask us?’ you answered, ‘are you going to hire me, or not?’” Setting down his coffee cup, Yiannis shrugged. “What a waste of time! I filled out that application that took me more than half-an-hour. Then, I waited until three other guys were interviewed who were ahead of me. I’m not asking to be president! I just thought that job would be convenient – for a while.” Shaking his head, John said, “what about where it asks, ‘what are your weaknesses?’ You wrote, ‘trying to lose weight.’” Yiannis shrugged, again. “I told you I’m honest.” George quipped, “You should have written, ‘trying to get a job isn’t something I do often.’” Kipreos, smiling, told Yiannis, “the hotel where I work needs someone to pile the customer’s breakfast dishes onto the cart and into the kitchen. It’s easy work and just part time and you can walk to the hotel – like I do. You can have breakfast there, too, like I do.” It sounded ideal to everyone else. There was a long silence as Yiannis, who appeared to be thinking about it, set down his coffee cup, ate the rest of the third donut, and then announced, “Sounds good! Get me an application.”

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