Vic the Loser

While working on a computer program at work, Vic gets two blows.

First, his phone buzzes with a text. Vic’s heart pounds when sees Ronni’s name on his phone. She’s the only girl he’s dated in the past few years. He thinks she likes him, but after one date she vanished.

“Yay! Finally!” he thinks. His heart pounds as he reads her message.

”Hey Vic, I just met a guy and think I’m in love. Sorry. Stop trying to reach me okay?”

Vic can’t believe it. He reads the message four times. It’s not a joke. It feels like a punch to the stomach.

The second blow comes when Derek, his boss, walks up to Vic’s table.

“Vic, listen, I know you wanted the assistant manager role for this team. But we decided to go with Richard. He has a bit more experience. I’m sure you understand.”

Vic stares at Derek’s red face and his strained smile. Vic just nods a little. “Yeah, sure. No problem.” He thinks, “Of course, that corporate suck-up Richard gets the job. I’m the loser, once again.”

“Hey, don’t look so glum!” Derek says with an awkward chuckle. “No use crying about it. Keep at it and your time will come, alright?”

“Right, thanks,” Vic mumbles. It’s punch number two. He feels like crying.

The instant he can leave, Vic slips out of the building into the cluttered parking lot. The cold autumn wind makes Vic feel like the world hates him. He chokes back his grief.

Vic finds his Prius and falls into the seat. He rests his forehead against the steering wheel as a few tears stream down his cheeks.

“’I’m such a loser! Worthless. Pathetic.” The words pound through Vic’s mind as he drives home.

Trudging up the steps to his studio apartment, Vic plans for another evening alone with his dark thoughts.

Vic eats cold cereal for dinner and thinks about Ronni. Despite his best work on dating sites, she was the only girl who had met him. He realizes she only wanted an expensive dinner and was not really interested in him. She even told him, “You know, most girls won’t meet guys like you. You’re lucky.”

“Not lucky now,” he thought.

As he does most nights, Vic reviews his failures and sees them like a series of depressing YouTube videos:

  • Growing up, he had no friends. He was a loner who hated school and everyone there. “They were bullies” he thought.
  • The only time he’d asked a girl out on a date she said, “You’re asking me to the dance? No way.”
  • He’d applied for eight programming jobs before he got the one he still has. Yet after four years, his pay is the same.

Thanks to his two blows today, he’s reaching a new low.

“Why the hell do people ignore me? Do I look like a terrorist? Do I have bad breath? What is it?”

He calls his mom to complain about his life, but only gets her voicemail. He asks her to call him and stares at the phone waiting. She doesn’t call. Even his mom doesn’t like him.

Vic gets a sudden understanding about suicide. It’s no solution for him now, but he gets it. He lies down to sob and sleep.

Vic’s Search

He eventually realizes he’s not tired. It’s only 7:30, so Vic gets up and goes online. He tries to find advice or help, but just finds the same old five ideas.

  1. “Fake it until you make it. Act like a winner and you’ll be a winner.” He thinks, “Okay, but I’m a horrible actor and no one will think I’m a winner.”
  2. “Surround yourself with supportive people.” He thinks, “How can I do that if I don’t any friends. Even my mom doesn’t like talking to me.”
  3. “Be yourself.” Vic thinks, “That’s stupid. I’m a loser and should never be myself.”
  4. “There’s plenty of fish in the sea. You’ll find another.” He thinks “Yeah, right. Girls don’t like me, probably because I’m an Arab.”
  5. “Be interesting. Tell jokes. Talk about your travels.” His Facebook and pages have funny memes, his Italian trip pictures and some clever observations. No one cares. He can’t think of any other way to be interesting.

Vic’s Discovery

Tonight he finds something new. “How to Be More Popular” looks promising. The article explains that being interesting causes problems while being interested makes you popular. Be interestED, not interestING.

Vic thinks, “What? This can’t be right.” He reads the article again.

“Okay, sure, why not? You never know what might work until you do it. I’ll try tomorrow.” He is not hopeful.

As he gets into the Toyota the next morning, Vic notices the sun is out. It feels good on his skin.

He calls his mom to try the idea. Instead of complaining about his life, he gets interested in hers.

“Are you be getting those new curtains soon?” She wonders, “What? No whining?”

She talks about curtains during his drive. He doesn’t mention Ronni’s text or the lost promotion.

Then, while getting coffee, he gets interested in the barista. “So, will you be getting outside later today? The sunshine is awesome.” The barista actually chats with him while helping other people. Vic feels a tiny burst of  hope.

As he settles down to work, he tries being interested in a coworker. “So, are you getting outside this weekend?” The coworker is startled that Vic asks and says, “Maybe. Sure. Why not?”

Vic tries it with his boss Derek. “Thanks for talking to me yesterday. Do you have any ideas of how I can do better?” Derek is shocked by the question. He stares at Vic to see if he is being sarcastic, but he looks interested. He says, “I’ll give it some thought.”

Vic tries being interested in his boss’s boss during an elevator ride later that day. Normally Vic just looks at the floor, but today he has something to try. He says,

“Mr. Johnson, I like your advice memo about being focused despite distractions. It helped me. Do you have other memos I can read?” This boss says, “Sure. What’s your email?”

After he gets home, Vic tries being interested in some girls online. Instead of acting like a big shot or a comedian, he shows interest. He asks questions like,

  • “Are you having any luck on this site?”
  • “You have an interesting profile, especially your subtle humor. Do most guys get your jokes?”
  • “Can I ask you a question or two just to get to know you a little?”

He’s surprised and grateful to see some positive responses.

Vic’s Success

Vic invests hours and hours of deliberate use of this new people skill until it becomes easy to him. He carefully read and followed the steps in “How to Be Popular.” Staying focused on a person without introverting is the most difficult aspect. But after a lifetime of being unpopular,  he becomes popular!

Each morning the barista smiles and says, “Good morning Vic. How’s the weather out there?”

Coworkers stop by each day and say funny things like, “Another day in paradise, right Vic?”

His boss Derek actually gives him good ideas to improve his performance. Vic thanks him and makes a point of doing what he suggests. Vic stays interested in Derek and scores the next promotion.

He even forms a social relationship with Mr. Johnson after receiving an email from him, “Here’s the advice memos you asked about. Let me know what you think.”

Best of all, Vic starts to win the dating game. He becomes genuinely interested in women online and they can tell he is a good guy.

The women he meets are much more kind and social than Ronni. They enjoy talking to him. He makes them feel admired and respected.

During the dates he is more comfortable. Normally he would think about himself. “How do I look?” “Was that a stupid comment to say?” “Should I laugh or look serious?”

But as his attention is on them, he asks great questions and has fun.

Vic walks with more pride and looks happier. His replaces his nightly pity parties with friendly conversations and joy.

He gets pay increases, promotions and respect.

Everything changed when he became interested. It pays off. “Why didn’t anyone ever tell me about this? This is great!”

He even decides it’s time to use the name he was born with: VICTOR!