Our Top 10 Lists

By Janey Womeldorf

My husband and I have compiled our own book of Top 10 lists. We started it after I asked him one night: “Tell me the top three, most-memorable times you laughed until you cried.” Before long, we were roaring with laughter and in stitches as we relived each other’s laugh-till-you-cried stories. By the end of the evening, our stomachs hurt and we ended up with ten hilarious memories. We decided to rank them, and the book was born. After that, whenever those spontaneous, magical evenings hit that found us both in that laughter-filled, happy zone, we’d grab our book and ask more questions. Different categories of lists emerged as we reminisced over three decades of shared and happy memories: Top 10 Memorable Things Said by a Friend or Family Member; Top 10 Favorite Vacation Moments; Top 10 People or Couples Who Inspired Us; Top 10 Food Memories; Top 10 Happiest Days; and Top 10 Most Bizarre Days.

In all that time, only one memory has made more than one list: The following episode ranked number two (behind our wedding day) on our Top 10 Happiest Days list. It ranked number one, however, on our Top 10 Most Bizarre Days list.

The day of my husband’s job interview finally arrived. He had previously decided to make a career change and had studied hard to acquire the qualifications necessary for his new field. All he needed now was someone to give him a chance (and a job). After a year of unsuccessful applications and diminishing hope, he finally scored an interview for the perfect position in his new field. It was hard not to get our hopes up, and we spent every night role-playing and improving his answers to every question we thought he might be asked. The morning of his interview, I gave him a reassuring hug and wished him luck as I headed out to work. “Phone me the instant you get out,” I pleaded.

My day at work turned out to be anything other than the ordinary which at least kept me focused when all I could think about was him. During the time of his interview, I was called into an unexpected meeting and was not able to take his call when he phoned. He left a message that he would be tied up all afternoon and would see me at home. I ached with anticipation, clock watched until 5 pm, and rushed out the door at 5:01. My sister was visiting at the time and recognizing this would not be a one-sentence conversation, the three of us decided to save it and head to a local bar so he could talk, without distraction, over a beer.

“Start from the beginning,” I implored once we were seated, “I want every detail.”

He described the office, the interviewer and the set up. One by one, he recalled as many questions as he could, followed by how he answered them. He kicked himself again for the ones he felt he answered poorly. Overall, our practice had paid off and hope filled my heart.

“Finally, the interviewer asked me what my greatest weakness was,” he said. An involuntary gasp left my mouth – we had missed this obvious question – and my sister and I were on the edge of our seats waiting for his response. “So I replied, chocolate-chip cookies.” After a few seconds of stunned silence, we laughed – it was either the best or worst answer ever. The interviewer balked momentarily at my husband’s honest, albeit unconventional response but seconds later, burst out laughing, confessing that he also shared the same weakness. The two of them then bonded in an impromptu, light-hearted conversation about cookies before the interview came to a close.

“So when will you hear?” we asked anxiously.

“I won’t,” he replied, poker-faced. My heart sank in despair. Suddenly, he exploded with excitement: “He offered me the job right then and there!”

My sister and I erupted in shrieks of joy. People turned to glare at the table making the ruckus but we didn’t care. “Oh my gosh,” we screamed. “That is so fantastic.” The three of us cheered and hugged for what seemed like ages before our happy momentum calmed down long enough to make a toast. His excitement was off the charts and as we raised our glasses to his success, his happiness brought a tear to my eye. Once the euphoria of his Top 10 Happiest Day died down, he apologized for having hogged the spotlight and asked me about my day.

“I’ve got some news too,” I declared. “Someone got laid off from work today.” For the second time in ten minutes, shocked shrieks of “Oh my gosh!” rang loudly from our bar stools. “And you’ll never guess who,” I continued. They both knew the quirky office personalities I worked with and one by one, started calling out the names of colleagues they felt sure it would be. Surprise consumed them every time I said “No.”

“It was me; I got laid off today,” I declared. Their faces froze in disbelief and stony silence replaced the exuberant joy from minutes before. I confessed that the reason I could not talk when he phoned was because at the same time he was in his interview getting his job, I was in a meeting, losing mine. Bizarre could not even begin to describe the day.

Two weeks later, he started his “new” job – a position that he still works in, and loves, 15 years later; ultimately, my redundancy led me to better things. In nine months, three weeks and four days, he retires from his beloved position. Although we are counting the days, we already suspect his last day of work/first day of retirement will be immortalized in one of our Top 10 lists. What we’re not sure of though, is which list – happy or bizarre – we’ll place it on. Maybe, like only one other day before it, it will make both.

I vote for happy.

About this writer

  • Janey Womeldorf Janey Womeldorf once went to work wearing different shoes. She now freelance writes and scribbles away in Orlando, Florida. It’s probably best.

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2 Responses to “Our Top 10 Lists”

  1. Erika Hoffman says:

    Great story highlighting the unpredictability of life and also the importance of reflecting on every event , whether happy or bizarre or a mixture.

  2. Synchronicity at its best. I really enjoyed your story.

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