Stories from the Field: Downton Abbey in Cowtown

Calgary ain’t got nothing on Downton Abbey. But it tries.

Like a 19-year old woman fast approaching spinsterhood in Victorian London, Yvonne is networking as if her life depended on it. Freelance writing and editing isn’t a full-time gig, and Yvonne needs to secure hePride-and-Prejudice--1995--pride-and-prejudice-562985_1024_576rself an income. However, instead of focusing on a rich husband, Yvonne figures a job may be more suited to her needs.

And unlike a husband, any job will do.

There are social occasions, get togethers, events specifically designed to “hook-up” entrepreneurs with other entrepreneurs. Yvonne has even explored the possibility of re-training, as if in an effort to erase her 20 years of experience and education. It would be like becoming 16-year old virgin all over again, fresh and ready to hit the biggest dances in town.

But while Yvonne’s dance card is nearly always full, there have been no offers. Even a liquor store in Forest Lawn (hoodiest of the ‘hoods in Calgary) didn’t return her call. It’s become quite demoralizing. Yvonne is starting to consider Botox.butler

Yet Yvonne is persistent. She has created a new website ( to market her writing and editing talents in a way that is little more professional than the blog where she vents. She had more business cards printed. Her LinkedIn profile picture has been replaced with one in which she is not only unhelmeted, but recognizable. Her cover letters have become, in a word, distinct. And instead of waiting for the phone to ring, she is calling upon people herself. Some people hide from Yvonne’s desire for contact, others run out the backdoor. Usually there is a stalwart butler of sorts barring entry to the premise and Yvonne must increasingly resort to more resourceful and, um, creative means to meet those people upon whom the job market rotates.

Because she is an entrepreneur of sorts, Yvonne is invited and welcomed into entrepreneurial meetings. Entrepreneurs are lovely determined people; they take eligible mates for a couple turns around the dance floor, yet seldom end the night with an offer. Surprisingly, the most promise comes from Yvonne’s own social circle. She has given out more business cards in social situations than from business networking contexts. Perhaps this is because, in Calgary, you are what you do, and there is seldom life outside of work. Of course Yvonne shutters at this perspective and snubs her nose at it any chance she can get. Perhaps this is why a job — like a husband — remains elusive. As in Victorian London, everyone is preceded by a reputation and a label; if either one is absent or marred, people are wary.

Unless a titillating scandal is involved….

Will Yvonne find a job? Will Yvonne soon be eating canned beans for every meal? What kind of scandal could land Yvonne a job, or a respectable one at that?

Stay tuned!


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