Friday, July 26, 2013

Then and Now 72 - Stormy Interview

Then and Now 72 - Stormy Interview
Time: Mid-2007, single and at the hostel.

Then and Now 72 is the second post that will detail a transition in my single life, from my unattached, free and happy times at the hostel, to the apartment where I set up my home base from where I made good money, had lots of fun, made many friends and traveled all around the country.

I detailed the two jobs that I interviewed for, got accepted to, but declined in Then and Now 30 and 38. The former was a school where I was going to be some kind of cog in a giant corporate machine filled with excessive regulation and rigidity, while the latter was a school where I had to room with some typically cold, jealous, angry and spiteful foreigners who were here only for sex and money, and who viewed me as nothing more than hated competition.

An agent found the third school for me, and it was exactly what I was looking for: it was a smaller school with only a few dozen students (later expanded to over a hundred thanks to our efforts). It was in a town outside of the main city so I had to take a train and a few buses on my way over there, though there was a very simple train-bus route that I could have taken to get there much quicker, but I ended up discovering it on a later date. At this school, I was more free to do my own lessons as long as I followed the school's basic rules, and I got to live in my own place instead of sharing a house with two pissy manwhores.

This interview came at the very tail end of my days at the hostel, and I was almost flat broke. My tutoring had allowed me to stay afloat for as long as I did while I was without work, but by the time I got this interview, I had only about two or three hundred dollars left in my pocket. I worried somewhat about not getting a place with such a little amount of money, but I also wasn't afraid to be homeless for a month until I got my first paycheck, so it didn't bother me too much. Because of this, I didn't actually take the train to the bus station like I was supposed to. After spiking my hair and dressing nicely, I left that day from the hostel several hours early so I could walk straight to the school and save myself some money.

Unfortunately, I didn't pay attention to the storm clouds above and left my umbrella back in my locker at the hostel. It started to drizzle, then sprinkle, then rain, and soon it was like the entire sky opened up to dump down an absolute ocean of rainwater. I was walking by a freeway onramp when the worst of the storm suddenly hit, and it was too late for my hair; the gel washed out almost immediately, and I was left with a damp mess matted to my scalp. I couldn't see it, but I knew it looked terrible.

I ducked into a convenience store to ask directions to the train stop that had the bus that went to the school. The local girl, a real cutie, told me that I should take the train directly there and that the station was really close nearby. But since I had already walked so far, I decided to just keep walking, and told her that I didn't have the money to take the train just yet; I was on my way to an interview to get set up, and I just had to hold out a little longer.

And then, this amazing girl smiled, reached into her pocket, and took out $2 and handed it to me. I didn't know what to say except to politely refuse her offer and thank her a lot. I wish I had gotten her number to thank her with coffee or a fun time out later on, but I was such in a rush to get to the interview that I wasn't thinking straight. I smiled my brightest smile at her, then headed back into the rain in the direction of the train stop I needed to get to. Completely drenched, I finally found my way to the station where I would have gotten off if I had taken the train, and soon found the bus to take me to my potentially new school.

It was a humble, nice looking place on a side street, and it had a large gate out front leading into a tiny outdoor play area. There was only one window that allowed a look into one of the classrooms facing the street, and a sliding front door that opened into the office area where a few local women were waiting. I went in the door and met up with my soon-to-be new bosses.

I absolutely nailed the interview. I had years of experience tutoring and being a TA, I was charming and confident, I had a working knowledge of the local language and I had all the right answers for all their questions. Natalie, my sub-boss, was a very cute girl, and I was starting to get really interested in her while I was doing the interview, but she soon let slip (I don't remember why) that she had a boyfriend. I suddenly felt a tight clenching in my chest, but I'll explain why in just a bit.

One of the other questions they asked was if I had any special talents. I told them that I used to play a little guitar, but I didn't know all that much. Natalie smiled and went downstairs to get an old acoustic that they had lying around, and offered it to me to play. It took a few seconds to tune the old instrument, but after I was done, I played a couple of chords and the breakdown from the Tristram Theme from Diablo, but that was about it.

The senior boss also made a strange, but unsurprising, request: they didn't want to see me hanging around any local bars or clubs and bringing a bad reputation to this newly founded school. I had no intention of doing pickups or anything like that and assured them I wouldn't, but I wasn't surprised at the request; I'm sure every other foreigner they had ever known treated this country as a brothel.

Finally, the big boss asked me what I wanted to do with my life, and I told her that I wanted to save up some money, get settled, then start donating to charity as soon as possible to give back for my excellent life. She smiled, but her body language told me that she didn't believe me. Flashing forward a year later when my contract was up, she confirmed what I suspected, but then said, with no qualifications, that she at last believed what I said and knew what a good man I was.

After a few more minutes, the interview was over, and bright smiles from everyone showed that I had gotten the job even before they had confirmed it by email a few days later. But just to clinch it, I noticed some students walking in during the interview to have a class, and when the interview was done, I asked if I could sit in on the class and see how they would like me to teach. About an hour later, I asked if I could do some vocabulary teaching for a while, and my new bosses let me do it for a few minutes. Finally, the kids went home, but I stuck around to help clean up and sort things out for the next day when the school opened again. All of that, plus my excellent interview, got me that job, and the apartment where I would spend some of the happiest days of my life.

But the day wasn't over, and the worst part of this Then and Now, and honestly during my whole single time, was about to come.

The clenching feeling I mentioned before came out full bore while I was heading back to the hostel, and for the next hour, I would have the angriest, worst time of my single life, and it was all my fault. For that brief time, I slipped back to the boy I was just a few years before. I walked through the night on that lonely street, thinking to myself that yet another girl was taken, and I would never date or have fun in my life, no matter where I went. I blamed God. I blamed myself. I blamed everyone in the world, and wrapped myself up in a comfortable anger as I continued my way back to the train station.

I completely forgot about other awesome girls like Nell and May. I forgot about all the things I had seen, and all the progress I had made. I pushed all of this out of my mind for the entire hour, and even as I came across the train station, I simply passed it up to keep walking straight back to the hostel, which ended up being a ten or fifteen mile trip, because I wanted time to think.

When the hour was up, I had calmed down. My optimism and confidence slowly returned, and I was back to living my life, shaken, but more or less content. The pivot that was my mental state was weighted far, far closer to happiness than the depression it was tilted towards during my high school and college days. It was simply a matter of waiting for the scale to tip automatically back to where it was supposed to be after something came along to shake me to my core. All of my work improving myself since I was 21 helped me to automatically settle myself and return to the greatness of being me, instead of defaulting to depression.

It was pitch black by the time I crossed the bridge to the main city. I didn't have a compass at that point, so I just wandered into a mechanic's garage that was still open at the late hour and asked the gentlemen inside where northeast, and the street my hostel was on, were. They gave me a vague pointing in the direction I was supposed to go, and after thanking them, I wandered in that direction until I found an intersection that was familiar to me.

A few minutes later, I was back in the hostel, showering and getting ready for bed. Just a day or two later, I said goodbye to the owner of the hostel and thanked her for everything she had done for me. Ken, May and everyone else I had known at the hostel were long gone, leaving me the only one of the original crew to pick up and find his new path in life. I called the elevator, took a last look at the place where I spent the best month of my life, smiled, then went downstairs to head out to my new apartment, and my new life. The last experience of Then and Now 42 picks up on my first night out, and my time as a working man with ample cash and time to follow his dreams.

As for today...

I woke up at 5:00.
I played video games.
I went to work.
I taught students.
I came home to an empty house.
I played video games.
My wife and son came home, so I turned off the game.
I watched internet movies with my son.
I did puzzles with him.
I roughhoused with him.
I went to work.
I taught students.
I came home.
I started a load of laundry.
I did the dishes.
I watched internet movies with my son.
I hung up wet laundry.
I slept.

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