I will continue my journey in Canada, namely how I found my second job. It was an adventure, and I think it’s worth telling.
As described in prior posts my first job. My instinct told me that I had to look for another place. I still didn’t know French well and didn’t practice English because I worked for a French-speaking company.
Before my first job, I lost many interviews because I didn’t know what to do when I couldn’t remember a word in French or English. Even at interviews in French, replacing a word with the English version was no problem; many practiced it, willingly or out of necessity; this combination was called Franglish.
My problem was when I didn’t know the word in either language. Looking for the in the ceiling was a disaster. Trying to get around it with lots of other words was even worse because I was confusing everyone, including me, who forgot where I started. The idea was to speak with conviction and confidence and my mouth to run like diarrhea. My strategy was to say the word in Romanian with a French ending (both French and Romanian are of Latin origin). If a word in a sentence did not fit, the interviewer would correct it in his mind, or ask “isn’t this?” and he would say the word, and I would hurry to say, “Yes, yes” and repeat the sentence with the word suggested by the interviewer.
So that was the strategy, which backfired strangely in the next interview.
So, I sent out RESUMES. I received a call from a company looking for a Delphi developer (which I became an expert in) for a project managing iron ore loading onto ships at the Sept Iles seaport in northern Quebec.
The building where the company was located was only two blocks away from the building where I worked. So that the boss wouldn’t find out that I was going to the interview, I asked him to schedule me at lunchtime. They agreed to noon and told me that the interviewer’s name was Jean-Francois.
I showed up for the interview (the company’s name was Novasys), but the secretary told me that Jean-Francois was out to get a sandwich and he’d be back in 5-10 minutes. Then he invited me to wait in the meeting room.
At one point, a man in his 50s who saw me through the glass door, waiting, entered.
He holds out his hand and says in French, “I’m Mario, the president of Novasys.”
I jumped like a spring, shook his hand firmly, and roared like thunder, “And I’m Eliade, and I came for the project with...”
But I couldn’t remember how to say boats in either French or English, so I applied the solution for moments of catastrophe - the Romanian word with a French ending, “vapeurs”.
My problem was that “vapeurs” is a valid French word and means vapors (steams) in no way boats. In the clearest French, my sentence meant, “And I’m Eliade, and I came for the steam project.”
I saw Mario’s jaw drop and his eyes bulge like a frog’s.
Enter Jean-Francois. Mario waved him authoritatively out of the room, then went out and closed the door. I could see them discussing through the glass door of the meeting room. After the chat ended,
Jean-Francois accompanied me in the meeting room.
He started asking me questions about the weather, how Romania is, and if I settled in Montreal, but no technical questions. In my mind, he was acting like I was crazy and had to be careful.
At one point, Jean-Francois said to me, “Let’s stop this nonsense. Mario told me to hire you.”
That’s how I started at Novasys. I found out the mystery shortly after hiring. Novasys had 54 employees and was Mario’s company. He made his wife vice president. They were negotiating with a potential customer about a project where a computerized system had to control steam pressure in a boiler. Only he and his wife knew about that project. Mario thought that the client sent me and hiring me was a guarantee that he would get the project. I wonder how Mario’s eyes bulged when he told the client “I hired your man” and they told him they didn’t send anyone. And that project did not materialize.
Mario didn’t fire me anyway, and I did a good job on that project with the boats loading iron at Sept Iles. I really stood out. The others were good developers, but they were in a gang, all Quebecois, they didn’t contradict each other even if the solution was worth discussing. I would wake up, a naïve Romanian, saying, “it doesn’t work like that,” and most of the time, the discussion that started would come up with a better solution.
I resigned two years later to move to Toronto. Mario was devastated by my decision (I am not kidding), and told me he wanted to open an office in Toronto to get me back. I said yes, but that didn’t happen. In fact, Mario had to sell the company after the “boats” project because he couldn’t find any project good enough to pay the salaries.
With Novasys started a good period with jobs, but later on it turned nasty.
Next post would be about my first job in Toronto.
Where it all started: