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The Paradox of Perfection


It’s a hot day. The afternoon weather really didn’t help to improve Lena’s mood at all. She is in rage; her face revealed what is being kept in her heart. Her brows combined. Her forehead wrinkled.  She’s sweating despite the breeze being thrown by the air-conditioner right beside her. Wrath manifest in her face, making it red as if she’s just finished running a 100 miles course.

She’s typing furiously on her laptop trying to finish the letter. Her slim finger tapping at the keyboard with such a pace that it sounds like popcorn being cooked in microwave. Sarah, her cubicle mate who sits beside her was just about to ask her for lunch when she saw that furious motion; it makes her stopped.

“Girl, are you okay?” asked Sarah.

No answer given, only a brief nod.

“You want to go for lunch?”

Lena motions her hand briskly in waving motion, denying Sarah’s invitation. Sarah walks away confusingly, feeling that Lena’s really not being her cheery self as usual. Lena’s continued her typing; and a moment later she pressed “Ctrl” and “P”.

She got up from her chair and walks out of her office moving into the printing room. She pulls the lanyard which holds her tag to the door, and the door blink open with a green light. She pushes the door and went straight to the printer. Finding her results of furious typing, she skimmed it and smirk to herself.

She goes to the cabinet where it holds stacks of envelopes and fetches one of it for her. She folds the paper into three and slips it into the envelope. She walks out the door, and went straight to the wooden oak door with a name embolden in gold on it.

The sign on the door reads “Linda Chong, General Manager: Technical Sales Department.” She knocks lightly at the door and a commanding voice permits her to come into the room. She pushed the door open and walks into the room.

“Hi Linda” Lena’s starting her conversation.
“Hi. What can I do for you?”

Lena doesn’t say anything else but just handed the envelope with her letter inside. A smirk revives again on her face, sarcastically.

“What’s this?” ask Linda.

“My resignation letter. I quit.”

A wave of shocks flies over Linda’s face. Taking her letter, Linda slowly shaking her heads as a sign of disapproval but say nothing. After reading Lena’s letter for a while, she puts it back into the envelope and stares to Lena.

Lena’s sarcastic face smirched with a grin. She waits for what Linda has to say.


“That’s it?” Lena asked in confusion. She has expected a better response from her manager instead of a simple word of approval.

“Anything else?” Linda inquires back.

“You don’t want to ask why?”

“Should I? I think I can understand the cause of why you want to quit, even though personally I think it’s childish. I am not sure the reason that motivates you to send me this letter, but well, that’s your rights anyway.” Linda shoots back. It’s obvious now that Lena’s no longer in the position to be sarcastic.

Lena is dumbfounded. Her ploy seems to fail and it’s clear now that her attempt is useless. Sighing, she murmured to herself in such a low tone.

“I was expecting a closure... “

“What closure?” Linda asks curiously.

“Nothing” said Lena. She turned slowly to walk back to her workstation. Her hand was at the doorknob when suddenly...

“Lena, sit down.” instruct Linda. Lena’s step stopped, and she walks back to the chair in front of Linda. She sits as instructed, defeated.

“You want to quit because I don’t give you the promotion of Senior IT Architect; instead I give it to Ben, who is much younger than you. Am I right?”

Lena just nod.

“And you think by giving out your resignation letter, I will rethink my decision, try to ask you why, and persuade you to take back your resignation. That’s what you meant by closure?”

“No. Yes, something along that line, but I thought by doing this I can get the reasoning why you choose Ben over me without losing my integrity. And I will still resign after that, with full satisfaction” answer Lena.

“And you think that will work? Why do you want to do that and still resigning?” Linda’s confused.

“It’s because of your decision, Linda! You do that and make me looks like an idiot working for nothing! For god sake, Ben’s too green for that position! He just works here for two years! What, am I incapable? Did I not finish my work? Did I not do my work properly? I work my ass off just like Ben, and it’s Ben that you favor?!”

Lena’s high pitch voice doesn’t give any impact to Linda. She just sit there smiling.

“Lena, you’re doing a great job. You are perfect. Yes, I appreciate the fact that you’re hardworking and always settling your workload earlier than the date expected. Your job is splendid. But that’s not why I choose Ben over you.” Linda is trying to explain.

“What? Being perfect is not enough?”

“No. You’re not doing more than expected. You’re only doing just as expected.”

“And what’s that supposed to mean?”
“Consider Ben and see the difference between you and him”.

“He’s done a lot more mistake than me, that’s obvious.”

Linda shakes her head again.

“Lena, you still don’t get the point. Look, let me give you the harsh reality check for you first, okay? You can do the work being assigned to you, but you’re not growing. You’re not taking any other initiative. You’re spoon-fed. If you’re not being assigned, you’re not offering yourself”.

Its Lena’s turn to be shocked. She really can’t believe her ears.

“Look at Ben; he’s more active on doing his job. I am not arguing that he made mistakes along the way, but he’s growing from the results of his mistake. He takes more responsibility than you. He learns from his mistakes. That’s what makes him more qualify to get that promotion.”

Lena is really at loss of words.

“That’s the irony of life, Lena. Imperfection makes things perfect. You know, you never make mistakes during five years you’re here. That’s why even though you’re good, you’re not perfect, because you’re not growing and no mistakes can ever happen. Nothing changed in these five years. You’re still the same as when you’re started working five years ago. You don’t dare to take any risks at all. You play it too safe.”

“Only now you’re making your first mistake by giving me this resignation letter. I’m going to give you a second chance. Take back this letter and I’ll pretend our conversation never happen.”

Lena slowly reaches for her own letter. A blank stare at the white envelope emerged when her hand holds it back. She started to stand and slowly step back to the door. Her face goes sour; expressionless.

Suddenly she stopped at the same spot when Linda asked her to sit down previously. She turns to face Linda, and marched through the room to Linda’s desk again.  She put the letter back at its place on Linda’s desk.

 “I’m taking a risk now, Linda. Keep it. I’m still resigning. Thanks for your advice.”

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  • 1) ahh...i sound like lena but i'd never resign for something like that! geez...why won't she try to compete or try to improve. she got nothing to lose! stupid lena! based on true story?

  • (Author)
    2) part of it is true, but I made the storyline to be compact, on one day, on one event. hehe.

    more or less most of us have some characteristic of Lena minus the courage to do the irony at the end of the story. well, that's the paradox of perfection here.

    but yes, this kind of story did happened in front of my eyes, its just not on one day one event kinda thing. ;p
  • 3) wow! by a woman? *sigh* yea, we can't always make others happy...
  • 4) good enough
  • 5) that was me up there
  • 6) initiative & doing things more than what u r assign is part of success plan.

    but sometimes u gotta hav self-worth n know ur value,just like lena here, she quits (bravo!). she did nothing wrong, more importantly she's consistent n gets the job done!

  • (Author)
    7) @blake_zane: yeah, a woman. true enough - we can't always make others happy.

    @prince-adi: tq tq. glad u like it.

    @uculer: boss, the private sector industry is confusing. you do things good. others do things good too. so what's differentiating you compared to others?

    and if you're doing things that different from others, you'll do mistakes because its new things to be learned.

    that's what this story tries to put it.

    @mosh: hehe. that's one way to look at it. other way is to look at it as not worth it. paradox? hehe, that's intentional

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