Thursday, July 14, 2011

Brave New World

As it may have become apparent, the future of this blog is in uncertain waters.  My life definitely hasn’t been amazing, in Asia, or an adventure for quite some time, and I told myself I wouldn’t post again unless things changed.

I have gotten ‘out’, 2 or 3 times in the last 4 months, so I guess I can write about that.  My buddy Max had a birthday party so he invited friends and family to the park for celebrations.  I couldn’t find the place, so I waited at the local science center to meet up with Chris who could lead the way.  The center had some sex exhibit at the time and was selling adorable STD plush toys; I had found the perfect birthday present.

For my friend max, I gave him herpes.  It was a cute, ‘sun’ looking toy that quickly got passed around the party.  Some people got it on their lips, while most just got it on their hands.  You only get herpes once, and Max got it from me in front of everyone.  He later had a photo together with his new life-partner, and his girlfriend.

I had fun with this crowd a month later.  I only caught the tail end of the house warming party because I could only show up after work, but I brought my “Game of Things.”  A game so awesome and easy, it can be explained to drunk people.  If you don’t remember it from my Christmas post, basically all it is, is a bunch of cards with statements like “Things that are dirty” or “Things you would do if you were invisible.”  Everyone writes down something crazy, and then we take turns guessing who wrote what.

We laughed for hours.  I took turns picking on various people in the room all in good fun.  I’d love to give you examples, but I won’t publish the filth that came up.  I’m giggling now as I think about it, and remember I couldn’t sleep for hours thinking of the fun we had.

I got out for a family event when my aunt and uncle had an anniversary, but again I missed most of it because I worked.  I would have liked to visit more, but I was tired enough to hang out in the background.

Those would be the highlights of my time away from the restaurant.  Weeks came and went with little fanfare.  I won’t lie; I went for weeks without applying for jobs as well because it was so discouraging.  I had numerous people trying to help me out and sending me job links to apply for.  My buddy Lester sent me a bunch he found on, and I didn’t apply for several days later when I had time off from work and I wasn’t so exhausted and/or apathetic to the time sink job hunting is.

I had Monday off and finally got around to sending out applications.  This time, everything was game.  I was hoping to find a job close to Regina as my mom has a place for me to stay (with many exceptions of course) but now I was applying for anything, anywhere that said “engineer.”  (as opposed to just “anything”) An hour later as I was in the middle of making another cover letter, I got an unexpected phone call from Rem Enterprises in Swift Current.

As I talked with the HR lady, I quickly Googled the company to try and refresh my memory on what I applied for and tried not to be too surprised at this totally unexpected development.  I applied for a “process engineer” position, but she thought I would be better suited as a Mechanical Engineer.  Thinking about my fascination with robotics, I couldn’t agree more.

After a screening call that lasted almost an hour, she had set up a Skype interview for me the following morning with several other managers.  It went very well, and I was giving an IQ/aptitude/personality test to complete.  They set up an in-house interview for me at Swift Current 2 days later when I had my next day off from the Restaurant.

I went to the interview, where I demoed my robot from University, build 5 years earlier.  I was very successful with a drafting test, something I hadn’t done for almost 10 years, and there was another personality test.  I think the big thing behind that was I’m afraid of talking myself out of a job. 

It’s no secret that I’m fascinated with space and future technology, but I expect a lot from myself.  I don’t want my life’s work to be something petty and non-consequential; I want to be a part of something bigger than myself.  Agriculture is important in that respect, and the chance to work and get my hands dirty with mechanical innovation was definitely up my alley.

I heard back from the HR lady on Friday, but the managers who made the final decision were out for the week.  When I got in touch with her again the following week, she gave me a verbal job offering over the phone as an Engineering Technologist.  The conversation was very brief and positive, and after I hung up I continued to make my sandwich on my lunch break before it all hit me at once.   

I involuntarily jumped up and down while giggling and my eyes teared up.  My yearlong ordeal was over.  The living nightmare was about to end.  This perpetual limbo in a non-existential purgatory finally had a light at the end of the tunnel. 

It was so strange, but so refreshing to have a successful company aggressively recruiting me for such a desirable position.  The screening process was daunting, but I think I did very well all things considered.  Now that my life was finally out of the rut and back on the road, I could draw myself a road map again.

I gave my 2-week notice at the restaurant.  I bought plane tickets to Thailand to see Ann, as it has been over a year.  I’ll stop in Japan for 4 days before, so I bought presents and made plans to see my old students.  I was in Swift Current yesterday and found a nice place to rent for when I start work on August 8th.

It’s so exciting to make plans for my life again.  I couldn’t have done it without the help of my friends and family.  Jerry, Gary, Dougal, Steve, Chris, Lester and more, all gave me different advice of which I took and pieced together to make myself more marketable.  I had rebuilt my resume completely 4 times, each one better than the last.

I’m now sitting at the Chicago airport getting ready to go to Japan.  The plane has been delayed 2 hours, and I wish it were delayed yesterday.  I knew to never buy a plane ticket that transfers in the U.S. but now I will swear to never do it again. 

I was in line for hours to check through customs, watching the many lanes open for American citizens breeze through, then close later when they finished while the ‘visitor’ section had only a couple processing lines and the lineup of people was down the hallway.  No other country I have been to is this inconvenient; why do I need to get my passport stamped if I’m not visiting?  I’m transferring through.  By the time I got my luggage (that’s right, you have to get your luggage even though you’re not stopping here) my connecting flight had already left. 

Because my airline “isn’t responsible for the government” as I was told, they could only give me a discount for a nearby hotel; I still had to pay over $100.  Thank you for making me miss my flight, then charging me more for a hotel than I will spend on the entire 3 weeks.  It’s just a good thing I have a credit card.

I wanted to make the most of it and see Chicago, but my feet were aching from standing in line for 3 hours (remember, I still haven’t even gone to the right terminal and gone through the screening there yet either).  I guess I’m still quite angry, mostly because I can’t see my old students now, and possibly many friends.  I slept the day away in the hotel surprisingly; the last couple days have been crazier than I thought.

I had some “Chicago Style” pizza, which is pretty good I guess.  I only was able to eat ½ of it.  Maybe I’ll be back someday, but I will try to never transfer in the states again.

Being back on the road again really made me evaluate this last year and how hard it’s been.  I often forget it’s even 2011, because not many major things happened in my life since 2010 (of course there is a few).  At times I felt like I literally lost a year of my life, but as my new friend Dylan said to me: “well you met me!” 

Heh, he’s a great guy.  I have made some friends, and I have made some interesting experience.  I now have a greater respect for restaurant employees, even though I always tried to be polite to them anyways.  It’s a hard life and if I hadn’t been with my mom, I wouldn’t have been able to pay rent.

Last week I was out with Lester where we watched a couple movies and got some food.  I had to stop and thank him for getting me out of the house/work routine, and helping me feel like a person again.

But that’s enough from me for now.  I’ll keep waiting for my plane, and my next update will be about something fun: seeing Japan again.

"Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds." -Franklin Roosevelt


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