Dear Gayle,

I applied for a job that was supposed to be tenure track at an area university. Then they told me they’d changed it to non-tenure. Then they said they were making it temporary — it might or might not be renewed after a year. Finally, they asked me if I want it, but when I asked the salary, I was told that they couldn’t discuss that until I was being offered the job officially which they couldn’t do until a board met and agreed to offer it to me which they wouldn’t do unless I had already said that I would take it. Then I learned that the job would have been made permanent tenure track if enough diversity had been shown among the applicants, but only two of us applied, and we are pretty much alike in most ways which meant that neither of us are “diverse” enough, so the job was changed.

I believe this job is well suited to me and I want it. I think that after I’ve had it for a while, they will want me to continue in it. What do you think?

— Applicant

Dear Applicant,

That depends… Unless you are currently unemployed, or you have a job you totally hate, or you have a job you could return to immediately if things in the new one do not go as hoped for by you, I would be highly cautious about accepting any position at all with these people. They clearly do not want you. They are settling for you while hoping that the ideal candidate drops off a resumé sometime soon. You should not take this personally because these Human Resources people are well aware that your skillset would allow you to do a fine job. Rather, it is about the statistical image of inclusiveness that the college wishes to present to the world. Trust this: if a more “diverse” applicant drops by this college to fill out an application for employment, your new employer will dump you in a New York second no matter what has been the quality of your work up to that point. How disruptive to your life will it be when you are let go and then see an improved version of your former job get filled by someone else?

It appears that you are experiencing reverse discrimination. A man I know told me once that he had applied to be a forest firefighter out west but was told that, while he was well qualified and they would love to have him on the team, he did not fit into any minority groups, so they would get into trouble with the oversight agency above them if they were to hire him. He asked how many minority applicants were expected to apply for the job. “None,” he was told. The west went without needed firefighters in the name of forced diversity. It happens.

Because the appearance of diversity appears to be of greatest importance to this potential employer at this time, if I were you, I would keep looking for a job for which I were the sought-after candidate. All the best of luck in your search no matter what your final decision.

Dear Gayle,

I had always thought that this one relative of mine had the perfect marriage. Last week, I found out that it is not and probably never has been. Now I wonder if anyone is in a really good marriage. It makes me reluctant about ever getting married myself. Are there any perfect marriages out there?

— More Nervous

Dear More,

There is no such thing as a perfect marriage. For that matter, there is not much that could be described as perfect in anything, but there are some marriages that are better than others. I have heard it said that the best marriages are between two people who each believe that he or she married up, that they got life partners they view as having improved their lives. Having both partners start out with that unspoken shared vision of the pairing, and then wind up with that same view of the relationship at the far end of it after many years together, is a gift. Beginning the journey with someone who shows only signs of appreciating and respecting you, and for whom you feel the same way, and having both of you dedicated to maintaining the kinds of behavior that can engender nothing less than growing those positive emotions, should serve both partners well. My thought on it is that it seems better to start out being choosy than to be afraid of starting out at all.

[Gayle Wright is a mental health counselor doing area agency and hospital social work. Write to Gayle at: LV MY TAKE ON IT, 435 Broad Street, New Bethlehem, PA 16242, or send email to where your anonymity will be maintained in keeping with all current HIPAA standards.]

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