Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Day in the Life of a Job Hunting Immigrant

So you know how I said, when I come here and gripe about whatever is bothering me, I am able to see it in a lighter vein, well, I'm back for the same therapy again. Slightly cheaper than going to a shrink I think, plus there is always my fantasy about being discovered by some great publisher who wants to pay me a shit load of money for my rants.

Speaking of shit, I must, I must write about my day yesterday. It was one of those days when just as you think you can't possibly feel lower, life gives you a veritable kick in the balls.

But before I tell you about yesterday, I have to go into flashback.

Having moved to Canada a few weeks back, I enjoyed the first week being entranced by the snow. The second week was spent learning how to master things like an electric cooking range, and learning not to run and cross the road Delhi-style. The third week was spent moping and missing mommy. But through all these weeks, was the underlying restlessness that accompanies those miserable souls who've worked most of their lives. People like me who don't know what to do without work. Who will bitch and rant about office, but will miss it tremendously when not there anymore. So throughout those weeks, yours truly spent time on the Internet looking for jobs.

Realistically, I knew I was not going to be getting a job 2 hours after landing here, unless I wanted to work in airport security, and from what I saw, the Punjabi and Sikh community in Toronto has exclusive rights on that one. Chak de phatte!!

But perhaps in my state of optimism, I thought I'd land a job in about a month. This is where I was wrong. See apparently not even resumes are written here the way they are back home. So after a month of misfires, a friend's aunt who works in HR gave me a resume writing session. That's when I realized I wasn't getting a single call because no one liked my resume. Back in India, using the same resume, doing multiple save-as copies, and simple changing the position name usually did the trick.

I then re-started the entire applying process all over again. 7 weeks and over 100 applications later, I have had only 2 interview calls. The first one was crap, the second, I’m still waiting to hear about, but I am pretty hopeful. In the meantime, I am going nuts in the house. Mondays are the worst. I feel like I’ll never get a job and I have kittens just thinking that. Combine that with my new found love for cooking and baking, well-meaning friends started telling me I’m the perfect housewife. With friends like that, who needs enemies!

So yesterday, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I got a copy of Employment News from a newsstand. Back home, Employment News typically has UPSC results and government openings. Here it has small time jobs and mostly call center listings. So I thought, here goes, while I search for that elusive perfect job I can blog about, I’ll go and do some itty bitty job just to get out of the house. The husband didn’t look very convinced and said, “You know that paper is a little shady”. Ofcourse noticing the light of battle in my eyes after days of seeing me look just despondent, he didn’t continue. In retrospect maybe he should have, and I should’ve listened seeing as how being born and raised here, he knows a little bit more about the country than me.

So armed with copies of my resumes, I made my way yesterday to hurriedly set-up appointments at 3 offices.

Interview 1: 9:30 AM – Yonge Street

So unlike large sprawling Gurgaon and Delhi call centers, this one was on the 6th floor of a high rise. A cramped space, I knew it was probably not the place for me, when I saw a mop and pail standing next to reception. Still I continued with the interview. When they took me to the lunch room for my initial interview (in a lunch room!). I was amazed to see that it wasn’t the 5000 sq. ft area I had gotten used to at my last place. Instead it was a small 10 by 10 room with 3 plastic chairs, 1 table, 1 sink, and 1 microwave. I was thinking if these people could see how Indian call center cafeterias are, they’ll probably all line up for immigration! So the interview went fine, and they wanted to know when I’d join. I said I’ll call you back. I still haven’t. Is it wrong of me? I kept thinking…but the minute I walked into that place, I was so depressed. It was like I had walked into one of those crowded domestic call centers that line the inner lanes of South Ex and Rajouri Garden! So obviously I’m not going back.

Interview 2: 11:30 AM – Yonge Street

When the receptionist who had taken my call told me that the office was just next to the huge MTV office with the MTV signboard, I must admit I was impressed. When I got there however, I realized that there is a big difference between the MTV office and ghetto next door. As I walked down the musky carpet towards the door of the agency, this feeling of total helplessness washed over me…It’s a friggin call center and I am supposed to be doing this for time pass!! They didn’t even take my resume, just gave me a job. Atleast in India, they interview you at a 5 star and pretend to have 5 rounds before selecting you. That’s the difference. In India, call centers are jobs college kids take to have a good time. Here they are jobs you take if you can’t get a job at the mall selling clothes. This depressed me even more, although I’m not sure if it was because I was just missing India or work.

Lunch: 12:45 PM – Eaton Center

After my morbid morning, I decided to meet the husband for lunch at Eaton Center, a mall nearby. He helped me get over my depression by clogging my arteries with KFC and fries. It worked.

I came back home, took a nap and decided to leave for my last interview of the day. It was at about 4:30 also at Yonge Street. Incase you are wondering about Yonge street, it’s the longest street in the world, and stretches from Toronto all the way to Thunder Bay…another city, and hour away by air.
So anyway, the address was 719 Yonge Street, and I kept looking for this place and I couldn’t find it. Somehow all I could see after 714 was 730. I couldn’t help notice that the area was a little dingy. With shanty shops selling “body art” and “adult videos”. And that’s when I saw 719, Yonge Street. A godawful old house converted to office. Nestled between a strip joint called Brass Rails and a store that sells “Novelty ID cards”. That’s it!!! I thought to myself, I can’t possibly go in there. Obviously they are selling something other than “a line of new products” as the ad said. Or maybe they are new products…just being used in the oldest profession in the world!

Here is what amazes me about Toronto. In Delhi, we know the areas that are bad and can actively avoid them. Here you have a business district like Bloor-Yonge, but 2 minutes from there you have business of just another variety.

So I cross the road to start my trudge back home. That’s when I saw the queerest thing ever. And I use that word as a pun. This British guy, reed thin, completely gay, and wearing the most outlandish fur coat I’ve ever laid eyes on. Infact its entirely possible it wasn’t a coat, but just a dead animal slung over his shoulder! By now I’m used to such sights in what my husband lovingly calls the “Gaybourhood”, but obviously the Britgay was also a bit high. So he’s just standing there talking to himself, when these 2 men walk past him. Both men were HUGE, rippling muscles and tattoos on their necks. Obviously not men you would like to get upset. But cocaine does strange things to people. So the Britgay starts shouting at these huge bouncers, “What are yuu laughing at aye? Is eet my coat u baboon?” Like I said, cocaine has a strange effect on people, or perhaps Britgay just fancied a spanking…so he keeps heckling the baboon, oops, I meant bouncer guy. So the big guy finally gets pissed and starts advancing towards Britgay. I think he said, “Yeah, what are you going to do about it?”. And then he started chasing Britgay and beating him!!! Britgay tries to hide behind a car, and pretty soon they are chasing each other round and round the car…It would be funny if it wasn’t scary! Before I could grab my cell, someone else called 911. Unlike Delhi, where the thullas would arrive much after everything is over and the 2 guys are having a drink together, Toronto police are a bit faster. Within 3-4 minutes, the 2 were getting handcuffed. I don’t know about the bouncer, but I think I saw the Britgay smiling.

I decided this was as big a sign as I could get, and I am definitely not returning to 719, Yonge street for an interview, atleast in this lifetime. So I continue my walk back home, when I see this “Hiring” sign outside this optician’s store. I thought to myself, well, it can’t hurt looking can it…I mean, I do still have my resume. I could just drop it off…After all, I want something to keep me out of the house. So I go in, and I see this huge store, with 12 customers, and only one little Chinese girl behind the counter. Ofcourse, everyone is waiting their turn like normal individuals yours truly included. Suddenly this shemale walks in behind me, and I didn’t see her, uuh him, ahh it…When my turn comes, this shemale pushes me aside, walks up to the counter and starts ordering around the Chinese salesgirl. The salesgirl says, “I’m sorry, but she (me) was ahead of you so I need to speak to her first”. Knowing I’m only in here to ask about a job I possibly don’t even want, I said, “Oh you can take her (shemale) first.” Sales girl says “No, you first.” Now I know that in principle the salesgirl was right, but no one could have anticipated what happened next. I said, “Oh I’m just here to check about the job sign for more information.” So this nasty shemale turns to the sales girl and announces to the whole store, “She is just here for a job. I’m here to pay you money…” then she pretends to walk out and says, “Oh go ahead, serve her first.” Not wanting to be in the middle of this, I told the Chinese girl, “Go ahead, she needs help more…” Hehehe…I don’t think either of them caught the insult. I would’ve said more, wanted to, but you know, a shemale…I mean, what can I say to make her…ummm..him…umm it…feel worse than life probably already is for her…um…him…umm it…You get the idea.

Anyway, so I left the store (obviously!) and continued my trudge back home. Met my husband mid-way, got hysterical, laughed and cried and then we walked home. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse…it did.

There was this Chinese guy walking his little furry dog. I hate little dogs. I usually just want to kick them across the street. This does not hold true for puppies. I love puppies…I just hate dogs that are tiny even when fully grown. That’s just disgusting. So before I get carried away, back to the story. Chinese guy, walking his furry little dog. The little dog decides to attack me, and bares his tiny teeth at me, straining at his collar, walking on hind legs…You should’ve seen it…This is how it looked:

Well, pretty close anyway. And then, the owner says, “Don’t be stupid IfITellYaI’llHaveToKillYa”. Ok so he didn’t call the dog “IfITellYaI’llHaveToKillYa”.

But that dog and I share a name. I rest my case.


silverine said...

Me first!

*ugh* that dog is ugly! What a way to end the day!

But this was really interesting. We are so used to seeing those swanky or comfy offices in those office serials. Best of luck with the job hunt girl and keep writing. This made a really good read. Maybe you can serialize this in some Toronto mag! Why not try for a writing job? I am sure you will really do well there!

Britgay, live in interesting times girl!! :))

p.s.nowadays the garbage truck start their recorded message at 7:30 am Yay!

Lalit Singh said...

so u like to kick little dogs who are frail thin.. hehehe
join the club

Hey, silverine is right try some write assignment or something. and Good luck with your job hunt?

PS: how the hell does one recognise if the other person is a shemale or not??

Fleiger said...

My suggestion: turn proBlogger...

Did you go back to the Optician's place?

I can tell you by exp, job market in north america is bad...

hope and love said...

great to see that u r back sweet heart..
do keep blogging..

S - Currently a cynic said...

OMG... IS it the worst day or what???

And the dog was really really really ugly ! Eeeeeeewwwwwwww...

If I tell ya, I'll have to kill ya said...

silverine: congrats on the garbage truck. someone in mcb must read ur blog :-))) yeah, i wish i cud write creatively for a living, but lets see. seriously, seeing some of the offices here was an eye opener. indian offices are truly swanky. these guys haven't got anything on us!

lalit singh: my husband calls them rat dogs. they are soooooo ugly. they aren't dogs. they are rats that grew too big. and no one likes rats. shemales are what we call eunuchs or hijras back home. atleast technically thats what i think. but i love gay guys. my fantasy is to go shopping with a totally gay guy. they have such AWESOME taste!

fleiger: i wish it was easy to make a living off writing. but u know what, there are tons of better writers out there for the paid jobs. i never went back to the optician. but today morning i got some interview calls so the world is looking a brighter place. i also got a job at a market research firm, so its good. actually perhaps the world is probably brighter because the sun is out in toronto for the first time in the 7 weeks i ve been here...yes ppl, we've hit double digits in temperature today! HURRAH!!

hope and love: thanks so much sweetheart! i missed blogging a lot. and reading other blogs and other peoples misfortunes even more :-))

S - Currently a cynic: i know man. scary part is that these tiny ugly dogs are sooo popular here. i mean, wtf happened to lassie??

shruti said...

hey .. as usual good read... eye opener to me ..gosh I didnt know getting the job could be so tough abroad ..but then never contemplated staying of luck,,hope get ur dream job

Just Words said...

After reading your post I have dropped the idea of immigrating to Ceh-neh-dah… :-) … and will definitely stay away from dogs… :-) your post give a new meaning to the term “Humorous Tragedy “ it really is seriously funny ..

Well randamonly came across your blog … and guess will save this link in favorites … you make interesting reading … hope to read some interesting post from u in the near feature

that girl in pink said...

oh my god! what a day!! good luck with the job hunt? don't settle for anything less that what you really wanna do out of boredom.

have fun in canada!

Fleiger said...

Sorry for being a lurker for few days...

< shameless promotion>BTW, I want some nominations for "Mighty Sword" and "Ink Pen" awards. Please see my blog for details< /sp>

I will be back to normal mode soon.

If I tell ya, I'll have to kill ya said...

shruti: hey, thanks for dropping by. i guess getting a job anywhere is tough, its tougher here, because we miss the familiarity of home...but well, i'm sure something good will happen soon. atleast i'm back to blogging!

just words hey, thanks so much for adding me. hope you like my new post...immigration is a big decision. i don't regret it, since i kind of like living with my husband :-))) u know its convinient to do that when you're married and all :-)) but yeah, i do miss home. that was just one bad day. u shudn't let it color ur opinion of this city. chk some of the photos i'll keep posting on my photo blog.

that girl in pink: yeah it was just one of those days. i've certainly had better ones. oh yeah, the thing is, there are more jobs here in our line of writing than anywhere else. and not just those typical ads too eh, but seriously creative stuff.

fleiger: ur allowed to be as shameless as u want. i shall chk it out for sure...altho am pretty sure that if they are writing awards, i'll nominate silverine!

Fleiger said...

ur allowed to be as shameless as u want
Thankus galore... Now, if that was a public reaction, Hmm...

Anyways, those are book awards.

Double digits in temp? Lucky you... We are praying not to hit 3 digits :(

Crazy Dhakkan said...


Sorry, but couldn't help it!

Very interesting read!

Perhaps I should dig into your archives! hehe

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