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Sounds like Perfection

by Emma Diane McManus 10 months ago in literature
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It was… then it wasn’t.

Sounds like Perfection
Photo by Zohre Nemati on Unsplash

*This is based on True Events. Only names have been changed*

By Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Searching for a job can feel like looking for water in a desert.

I was scrolling through ad after ad looking for jobs wanting photographers but most of the jobs ended up being volunteer work, so no payment. It meant gaining experience but experience doesn’t pay the bills.

After a few weeks of looking, I finally spotted an ad that was a paying job. I immediately clicked onto it and started to read the details. It was a new Record Label who was looking for a full time photographer to capture candid and official images of singers during writing and recording sessions, as well as album covers and spreads. As I continued to read, I could feel my hands starting to get tingly with excitement. Not only would I be getting paid for just hanging around for most of the day; there were also planned trips to Paris, Amsterdam and Los Angeles. Trips that I would also be invited along on. All expenses paid; flights, hotels, villas and more and I would be getting paid to photograph the artists chilling, standing around iconic statues or buildings, capturing them as they laughed and chatted at a cafe.

This all sound far too good to be true… but I decided to submit my application anyway with the hope that I would at least get a courteous Thank You email in return.

2 days later

An email arrived in my mailbox app from a man called Greg Michelson, someone I didn’t know but I was tech savvy enough to know that you can open most emails without getting a virus and his tag line was about the Record Label; Entertainment Abstract Record Label or E.A.R.L for short, the one I had sent in my job application for.

I opened the email and found a few short lines about Greg and his plans for the record label and what my job would be exactly, then gave me his phone number and asked if I could call him, when I was free, for a chat.

So that’s what I did.

I forced myself to wait at least an hour from when the email arrived, I didn’t want to seem too desperate.

The phone rang twice on the other end as a man answered.


“Hi, sorry if this a bad time… it’s Emily Thompson. I applied for the photographer position?”

“Ah yeah! Hey! I’m Greg! The owner of Entertainment Abstract! Thanks for getting in contact!” Greg replies with an excited but very obviously high, slow tone. “I emailed you because you’re one of four photographers that I’ve whittled it down to,”

“Wow. Thank you!” I was incredibly genuine. After years of suffering with my mental health, at 27, this was only the second job I’d ever applied to. I loved photography, so to hear someone compliment my work… it always gave me an adrenaline rush.

“No problem!”

He then goes into a rambling tangent talking about how he had been wanting to be a musician and set up his own label. He then went on to tell me a little about his life and how he was ex-military and was planning on redoing his house up to turn it into the music studio.

I listened and replied in the small gaps he left. The more he spoke, the clearer it was that he was very stoned. I didn’t mind that; I had friends who smoked weed to relax and to help their anxiety or to help them sleep. I also knew a few people who smoked it just because they liked to. It wasn’t something I was really into… as I seemed to be the only person on the planet who’s mind raced a thousand miles per hour when they smoked it.

This guy seemed like he smoked it from morning to night but he also sounded really serious about his plans.

“So, the only thing I’m really waiting on is getting a buddy of mine a house. He had an accident about a year ago and is living on a sheltered rehab facility but he hates it. So I take him out in the morning and bring him here and we chill or go shopping. Anything to keep him from spending his days alone in that place. So are you cool with waiting for a few weeks before I call you again?” He asks and I suppress a sigh. It kind of sounded like he had changed his mind on me being one of his picks. But I forced myself to put on a happy voice.

“Sure! Help your friend, he’s what’s most important. Just give me a call if I’m your final choice for photographer,”

“Thanks! Oh and don’t worry, you’re my choice for photographer.”

“I am?” I could barely hold back my joy.

“Yeah, out of the ones who’ve gotten back to me, you’re the one who’s work and attitude I like the most. You’ve got the job… if you want it?”

“Yes!” I exclaim then clear my throat. “Yes, I would very much like the job!”

“Well it’s yours. I’ll ring you in a few when I get my mate sorted. Talk soon,”

“Okay! Bye,”


I hang up the phone and do a little happy dance in my room. I immediately ran to my mum and told her. She was happy for me but she had the same doubts I had but we stayed optimistic.

By Behnam Norouzi on Unsplash

Two weeks passed before I received a longwinded text message from Greg that was clearly sent to several people at once. He thanked everyone for their patience and said that he had his mate sorted with a house now so the wheels would be in motion now. He just needed a while to get his head and house sorted.

Another week passed and I received a text from Greg asking if he could ring me. It was late but I was home alone and wide awake due to my severe insomnia.

“Hey Emily, sorry it’s been so long. I just had to get things sorted on my end before I started work chat, you know?” He was clearly high, again.

“Yeah, no problem. I know you had things to get in line,” I replied with my ever optimistic voice.

Greg, yet again told me why he had delayed things and told me about getting his house turned into a studio. He was honestly starting to sound like a stoned broken record. He did tell me about how he had hired a videographer, Tony, and that he was going to arrange a promo video shoot/photoshoot with the artists he had, which consisted of a hip-hop artist named Katie (who he described as “full of beans and a little crazy”), his uncle who did like folk/country/rock, a Scottish guy who would be wearing full Scottish garb and a girl who liked to cosplay and sang songs from Disney movies.

It all sounded very… out there but I replied when I could, told him it all sounded amazing.

He said that I could come along to photograph things. Like them all getting ready and chilling between takes and so on. He then asked me a few questions about myself. I hesitated and flipped an invisible coin in my head.

Would I tell this guy all about my mental health struggles or would I lie and act the part?

The coin landed on “tell him the truth”, so I did.

His response was positive and he told me about his own mental health battles with PTSD and that he had insomnia too. This was all really encouraging for me. It meant that I didn’t have to come up with excuses in the future as to why I maybe wasn’t as happy one day as I was on the previous.

“Well Emily, it sounds like you’re the perfect person for this job and you sound like the right fit for this company,” Greg told me and my face broke into a huge smile.

“Thank you so much. You have no idea how much this means to me! It honestly fits so perfectly into how I imagined my life as a photographer. Touring the world, photographing musicians and getting paid for it! Thank you. I can’t even find the words to properly tell you how much this means…”

“You’re welcome. This has been a lifetime in the making for me and there’s nothing that’s going to stop me now. I’m glad to have you along for the ride! Hey, add me on Facebook so that we can stay in contact easier.”

“Sure, no problem,” I didn’t mind adding him. I didn’t really post anything. Facebook was mainly just a means to an end for me. It helped me stay in contact with the few friends I had managed to keep from school, see family updates and share my photography.

We said our goodbyes and hung up.

It was less than five minutes after hanging up that I got a friend request from him. I accepted and I had a little scroll through his previous posts. That…turned out to be a very bad idea.

His posts were usually longwinded and rambling. Just like his phone calls. He would also post photos of himself smoking weed and talking about the Illuminati and aliens. I couldn’t even make sense of half of his posts as they jumped about too much and there was little grammar.

It all made my stomach drop. This man seemed very insane or unstable or both… but I told myself that lots of people on Facebook didn’t act like how they did in the real world. So I put it all to the back of my mind.

By Barefoot Communications on Unsplash

After a few days, his posts changed. He posted about how he had done something stupid and that he should know better at his age. He then posted a photo showing two bleeding cuts to the top of his arm. It would be shocking to someone who had never seen self-harm injuries before but I had and these were not as dramatic as they appeared. I still messaged him asking how he was. He said he needed a few days as he was going through a rough patch with his PTSD.

So, I gave him a few days but I couldn’t ignore his continuous Facebook posting. All of it was more just look at me than I really need help.

I messaged him again to check on him, his response was the same. He just needed some space.

One of his posts made me concerned, so I commented about me being there if he needed to talk. He said he was fine. I replied with some places he could contact instead. He said he was fine.

The important thing to know about these responses is that they were usually eight to twelve hours between replies.

I, once again, told him that I was there if he needed someone to talk to. He told me to leave him alone, it had been three days and “he was over what had happened” and that “it was like I was willing him to kill himself.”

I was utterly horrified that someone would think that and I told him I just wanted to help. He told me to leave him alone. With a little anger and haste, I replied – “Fuck me, okay. I was just trying to help.” He obviously took this the wrong way and responded with – “Fuck me? Fuck you!” and then deleted me from Facebook.

I sat horrified and disgusted at how he had thrown everything back in my face! So, I texted him with a simple, stupid (in hindsight) response – “Child”.

I know I shouldn’t have but I was hurt; I had tried to help him through a crisis and he brushed me off.

This then started a several hour texting battle between the two of us, where all of my help was again thrown in my face. We argued about his posts and I tried to explain my replies and how I didn’t like to have someone be condescending towards me, especially when I was trying to help with something I knew about and had experienced. We argued, we basically fought for hours during which he fired me. Then, suddenly, he said sorry. Sorry for talking down to me. He was just in a bad place and he had just not wanted to talk about it. I apologised too (even though I didn’t feel like I had to but that’s the kind of person I am). He ended up giving me back my job and I accepted it. He ended our talk by asking me to call him the next day and I said I would try.

Now, I’ve already mentioned that I suffer from insomnia. This means the hours I sleep (if I get some) can sometimes mean that my days and nights are switched. So when I remembered to call Greg, it was about one in the morning. So I left it for the day.

I then was busy the next day and I simply forgot.

On the third day, I received a text saying, and I quote – “I’m sorry mate its just not gona work out i apologise. Greg.” End quote. I immediately text back – “Why? What changed?”

I got no response for four hours. So I decided to text again asking – “Greg? What changed? Can I at least know that much?”

Greg – “Well i dont need to give u an explanation but i will. I got well again. I realise if i get unwell u would be the type to send horrible texts which i dont have anybody that ever sends me texts like urs in my life. And so it wont work. Bye.”

Me – “I wouldn't send horrible texts. I sent those responses, like I already explained I felt like my advice was being thrown back in my face. Now that I know that you're the type of person who doesn't need someone giving them advice. I didn't know that much about you to know that. My responses where in my own self defence too. Everyone has their ups and downs in life and I was just trying to help you.”

Greg – “It wont work. Goodbye emily.”

Me – “Fine, whatever. Good luck.”

Greg – “See, there it is. Grow up. And another thing, u were supposed to call me about business the next day, said u would & didnt. How can anyone work with u. Nobody i know would. And calling me a child in ur first text to me is not any way to ask if im okay, for example, so no u were not responding like an adult. Ur a kid. If u didnt bitch about everything youd see a different side of life. Then another time u called me a child and thats the only thing u said in the text, do u feel thats mature yeah? Yeah. It wont work dry ur eyes.”

Now. I’m not going to post every text because that would take me over the three thousand word limit. But he later went on to say he had already replaced me with a mate of his who was going to do it for free, that he was just excited to be part of the whole thing. He later went on to call me disgusting, an idiot, an ignoramus and a c*nt. A word so horrible I don’t want to fully spell out.

I’m not going to claim I was a Saint in all this. I did call him a child and after he called me the names above. I told him he was the disgusting one, for calling me those horrible things.

All of this… is completely true. Like I said at the start, names have been changed; although I don’t know why I changed one name.

You can make your own minds up on who was right and who was wrong.

But this is the story of how a severely lacking in confidence photographer with a personality disorder and a host of other mentally ill challenges applied for her second ever job, a job that sounded like a dream… a job that gave me more hope than I’d had in a long time. A job that was then snatched away by an unstable, unkind, unknowing, unknown ghastly man. Leaving me in a very deep, dark hole. With all my optimism and confidence gone. There’s been really difficult days since then have left me questioning why I should ever bother picking up my camera again or if I’ll ever want to apply for another photographer position.

I’m hoping I will…


About the author

Emma Diane McManus

Hi! I’m Emma from Northern Ireland. I’m a tattooed, ghost hunting semi-professional photographer and aspiring author.

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