The Two Most Tragic People in the World

Their names are Petra and Jerry.

Petra is a moderately successful freelance programmer. The rent’s getting paid, she can go to bars and afford better than the cheapest wine on the menu, and there’s always enough for two weeks on the Baltic coast in summer, but it’s not a particularly exciting time. She wouldn’t mind a stable relationship above her current irregular rhythm of odd dates with odd people. And there’s the constant, ominous soundtrack of horrible things happening in the world. The tragedy is that Petra is really smart and finds it impossible to ignore these things; she thinks about life too much. The tragedy is that she’s smart enough to know that something’s not right, but just not smart enough to figure out what that something is. The tragedy is that Petra is left perpetually teetering on the cusp of realisation, with, as Calvin says, “a dim perception that nature played a cruel trick on them, but [lacking] the intelligence to really comprehend the magnitude of it.”

Jerry works in a restaurant. He’s not good at his job. He’s disorganised, he get’s confused easily, and he’s constantly stressed out to the max. The other day, he lost $200 out of the till; he has no idea how. His mistakes waste a mountain of food and an ocean of beverages. Customers leave unhappy but also feeling guilty. The owner knows Jerry’s not a good employee though he’s a good worker–he tries harder than everyone else–and keeps him on because she wants to help him, and Jerry knows this, but still he cowers in constant worry over losing his job. Some people are bad at what they do but they’re too dumb–or too disciplined–to realise it. Tragically, Jerry knows he’s no good. So he’s constantly apologising for fucking up again, for having a bad day and getting everything mixed up, for being tired and making so many mistakes. And every day he tells himself, I can do this, I’m not gonna cry.

Petra is smart,
Just not smart enough.
Jerry is dumb,
Just not dumb enough.

Petra is smart,
But just a little too dumb.
Jerry is dumb,
But just a little too smart.

Petra and Jerry,
The two most tragic people in the world.



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