I wrote in an article that I worked for 14 companies, but I didn’t mention them all because I don’t think they can be classified as jobs. I remember them, though, thinking that maybe they are readers interested in what someone plunging into the unknown goes through.
When I did that refresher course “update in computer science techniques” at College Maisonneuve in Montreal, I did “production practice” at 2 companies, where I helped them use applications that they bought but no longer had money to pay for maintenance at the manufacturer. The government was helping the companies stay afloat, and one of the methods was to get some help from college students. Students do “production practice” (unpaid) there; the students add it as practical experience in their RESUME, and the companies get some help.
Still in Montreal, another “almost” job was a small company that didn’t even have their computers out of the box. It was 1995; it would have been my first paying job. The owner told me he wants 2-3 days to test me to see if I can do what he needs. He had a secretary (I think his girlfriend) who was terribly afraid of spiders. When one appeared in a corner near the wall, she started screaming worse than in a horror movie. I wanted to show I was useful, so I picked up the spider without crushing it and threw it out the window. I was on the ground floor, so I think the bug landed without problems. I helped him take the computers out of the boxes. Then he gave me a Microsoft Office CD. I think he was afraid to install the app himself. I note that whatever buttons you press, Office installs anyway, but it’s best to choose nothing - the default settings are best. The next day, I showed the secretary how to use Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The secretary conscientiously wrote down everything she did in a notebook. When I finished, the man said he would call me in the next few days. He did not call. I called him, but he said that the potential client hasn’t signed yet, and it could take weeks or months to decide. All he wanted was to take advantage of me for the little things I did for him.
I mention one more from Toronto. I was between jobs, and the following interview was the weirdest I’ve ever had. It was an area with many warehouses, each with one or more offices. Someone was waiting for me in the parking lot. I went through several doors, all with a code on them. It seemed overly cautious.
The interview room was large, with a long oval table in the middle and the two who were going to interview me sat at one end. COVID came much later, so I was wondering why so much caution. I only realized when the two of them started talking in a very low tone so I wouldn’t hear. All I understood was that they were speaking in Russian. They knew I was Romanian and probably thought I could understand. The one who was the “president” did not say a word in English, only the other one, I understood that he was the director and spoke perfect English.
As I have a rich imagination, I thought they had an illegal business, such as stealing cars, disassembling them in warehouses, then sending the parts to Russia (the president spoke only Russian). Maybe drugs. Or maybe a Russian baron was doing business legally but laundering dirty money.
As a side note, I will say that there were articles at the time suggesting that the government should investigate more into the origin of business money in Canada, not just look the other way, satisfied that business is growing.
I got scared, and I told them I will think about it. They were ready to sign a contract. When they saw that I hesitated, they offered me double the salary I requested. I said that I never sign until a night of thinking had passed, saying, “The night is a good counselor.” I tried to say this quote in English, but I think it didn’t come out well; they looked at each other in wonder. It was a lie anyway, but I wanted to leave as soon as possible.
Tip: never try to translate super-specific Romanian sayings into another language. In that course at the college, I remember how another Romanian tried to explain the quote to a teacher, “We parted ways like in a train.” In Romanian, this meant that two people who don’t know each other and talk on the train say when parting ways, “We’ll talk again”, but that will never happen. How do you explain this (with poor French) to someone who has no idea about Romanian thinking and traditions? I was so ashamed that I left when the teacher’s eyes widened, and the Romanian guy tried to explain himself, deepening more and more into the mud.
Back to my interview, I didn’t call. Instead, the Russians called a few times, and I found some excuse each time. They gave up after 2-3 weeks.
Where my journey with jobs in Canada started,