“This Is All The Orientation You Are Gonna Get” by John Jodzio

*Short Story Monday is a weekly feature run by The Book Mine Set*

(Today’s short fiction was published online at Pank Magazine.  You can read the story here in their September Issue).

Also, my gratitude to Fat Books and Thin Women, who reviewed the story in her most recent Story Sunday feature.

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The title of this short story of 500 words, This Is All the Orientation You Are Gonna Get, is  self-explanatory.  It is really an orientation, given by an experienced employee to a new recruit.  It is the only obvious detail about this story but it does not prepare you for the orientation itself.  The place of employment is a nail parlor.  The orientation begins with:

Tell your customers they have pretty hands, even if they don’t, especially if they don’t.  Good breath means good tips.  If you get sad, go into the break room and stick your head in the pickle bucket filled with the Mexican nail polish and you’ll get happy real quick.

It is a no- nonsense list of what to do at the parlor, like asking for advice from the other workers, getting free drinks after work and where to order lunch.  The new recruit has suffered a loss and has been through some trauma.  There is an acknowledgement of how hard and emotionally wrought her life is.  This does not set her apart from the other workers.  In fact, it’s implied that most of the workers are experiencing or have gone through tough times before.  Theirs are not an easy lives.  The orientation is really sensitive to this and does not dismiss their reality at all. The constant refrain of the use of the bucket is evident of this. It is a great piece on working conditions and insensitive bosses.

This Is All the Orientation You Are Gonna Get is the kind of story you wished the author would expand into longer prose .  You want to know more about the characters and their ordeals.  You suspect that this new employment will not solve the new recruit’s problems.  But it will help her cope a little, survive longer and acts as a balm, however inadequate, for her pain.

Jodzio’s writing is superb.  The use and imagery of the purple bucket is genius.  Because it reminds the reader that the lives of these women is the story and not the orientation. It fills in the gaps and makes the story larger than its sparse prose. Like poetry, really.

A wonderful example of the form.  Read and enjoy it.

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6 comments

  1. Loving the excerpt, made me smile and reminded me of when I worked in a restaurant, that smile regardless of what’s happening in your life, because you’ll get greater tips. sounds like a great read. thanks.

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  2. Wow, this sounds really intriguing. I’ve never read a story like it and am curious. I’m glad you featured it! I think it’s a mark of a good short story when you wish the author would expand, not because s/he has left anything out, but because s/he has created such an intriguing situation or cast of characters that you must know more!

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