Janna leaned her head back against the bus seat. It should have been more comfortable than it was, but even one of those plush bus seats offers no comfort when it is worn thin over the metal frame. She left her head there anyway, the base of her skull bouncing on the fabric covered metal. It generated a kind of muscle-y headache but it distracted her from thoughts of facing her aunt.
She knew what Aunt Sadey would look like, wearing jeans and a grey sweatshirt – the crew neck, plastic-y kind that no one else wears anymore – leaning her left shoulder on the door frame, an unlit cigarette hanging from the fingers of her right hand, hair dragged back in a ponytail except for a scrappy little bang that would be standing up in sections from being swept off of Sadey’s forehead. And she’d be shaking her head, just a little, so Janna would know that she’d let her family down again.
“You were your mother’s pride and joy, you know. You were going to save the lot of us.” Sadey wouldn’t even have to say the words aloud, Janna knew the script. “I knows how hard it is. Sure, haven’t I had the same troubles myself?”
It was the same thing that Sadey said every time, but Janna didn’t believe it. She couldn’t imagine that grey Aunt Sadey had ever gone off excited for anything, let alone for a job. Sadey always seemed happy enough working at Mercer’s Convenience, keeping the local kids from stealing chips and beer, standing on the front steps for a smoke on her break. Janna wasn’t like Sadey though, she was excited. Every single time.
The problem was that Janna she always started with such confidence. She was always sure that this was the one that was going to pan out, this was the job that would switch them up over that line from almost having enough to finally being able to get ahead.
It never was though.
Lots of times it was close, but when it all came down to it, Janna just didn’t fit. Her clothes were a little too cheap, her make-up a bit too heavy, her language a bit too ragged. After the interview it was always completely clear, a glance in the mirror told her what she had done wrong this time. She’d love to have that insight beforehand just once, when it would be of some use.
She was just tired. She needed a break somewhere. But if that break wasn’t coming, then she needed Sadey to not be waiting at the door when she got home from trying. It was never not getting the job. It was never the pursed lips of the interviewer. Never the sad head shake from the secretary on the way out. The gut-wrenching part was Sadey, standing on the steps, knowing that Janna had let them all down again. The saddest part was never not getting the job, the saddest part was getting back home.