361X: Cutting the Sails Wrong

I have a book I have been trying to remember for years now. This wasn’t a children’s book, and honestly it’s possible I’m misremembering something that was in a magazine or a literary journal or even a TV show or movie. I think it was a novel but it could’ve been a short story. I am 99% certain that I read this within a published physical book, but memory is weird! And that’s why I’m here.
So I remember this as being a sort of satirical, maybe Quixotic story with a ne’er-do-well protagonist. I think it was a first-person narrative. In the scenario I have lodged in my memory, the protagonist is trying to find work by any means he can, and he stumbles across a job opening with someone who makes sails for sailboats. There’s an interview in which the protagonist lies about having a lot of experience cutting and preparing sails (he has none) and the harried owner says something like ‘great, you’re hired’ and hands him a fancy sail cutting tool that he thinks he knows how to use. He leaves the protagonist alone in a room with a large roll of canvas, and the protagonist begins haphazardly slicing the canvas into large, rough triangles. The owner comes back after an hour or so and immediately sees that this guy has no idea what he is doing, and he shouts something like “You’ve ruined thousands of dollars of this premium canvas!” In my memory, this was a very, very funny scene.

1 thought on “361X: Cutting the Sails Wrong

  1. Ceri Edwards

    I’ve definitely read this recently. I can’t quite remember where it was from for definite, but judging by the books I’ve read this year, I think it might be from The Moon’s A Balloon by David Niven??

  2. Todd

    I posted this question and only just now saw it got posted here!

    Thank you so much for trying to think of it. I wish I could say that you got it but I don’t think I’d heard of David Niven’s book before this post. Unless perhaps it was excerpted somewhere….?


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