I live in Dubai, and I couldn’t be happier. I love the place. It’s like a city designed for me: a 31-year-old boy who never grew up (the Peter Pan of digital publishing). But it could have been so different – and I can pinpoint the moment it almost didn’t happen. My Sliding Doors moment, if you will.
In 1998 movie Sliding Doors, the simple difference between catching and missing a train leads Gwyneth Paltrow down two contrasting paths of fate: one that ends in blossoming love, the other in tragedy for Mrs Coldplay (although you might forgive me for suggesting her character deserves her horrible fate for butchering the English accent like that).
My Sliding Doors moment is a true story. In 2008, my job on a small UK newspaper was boring me senseless and I yearned for a big move. During a job interview for a bigger gig, all was going well until I decided on a new tactic – honesty. So when the editor asked for my weaknesses, I told him the truth.
‘Sometimes I get annoyed with the general public,’ I told him. ‘Go on…’ he said, sitting forward in his chair. ‘Well, let’s be honest – some people are idiots, aren’t they?’
Apparently, some bosses prefer positivity to honesty. Who’d have thought it? Needless to say I didn’t get the job. Instead, I shifted from one unsatisfying role to another until, just over a year ago, an ad for a job at the magnificent timeoutdubai.com jumped out at me from a recruitment page. Having learned my lesson, positivity shone from me during my interview (I meant every word, boss, if you’re reading). The rest is history.
But imagine if I hadn’t fallen into the first editor’s honey trap. What if I’d played that interview like all others and told him my biggest weakness was that I worked too hard (ie lied through my teeth)? Where would I be now? Let’s follow my alternative universe. Obviously, I’d have been a success. I’d have moved up the ranks swiftly, my eyes set firmly on the editor’s chair. By now, perhaps I’d be within touching distance of that top job, driving a fancy car and living in a slick city-centre flat.
But I heard recently the newspaper of my alternate present is now on its knees, with staff being let go by their dozens. So perhaps I’d find myself flicking through the classifieds, looking again for a new move – searching for my Neverland – unaware I’d missed my happy ending. Luckily, I caught my train and it led me here.
And that’s more than poor old Gwyneth could say.
Jamie Goodwin is our assistant online editor. He likes to use the metro.