Sunday, March 08, 2009

A danger to myself and others

At least once every day, something happens that makes me feel like an idiot, like a poem written by monkeys; a crab in a lobster trap; cents in a pocket of pence; a Canadian in England.

I'm usually at fault, so I haven't seen any need to tell you about these incidents. But they're now undeniably, invariably part of my day, so I might as well come clean about my experience with the Immigrant Learning Curve Ball.

First, you must know this: English is widely spoken in England.

On that singular fact, I mistakenly reasoned that adjusting to the local culture would be easier than in other places I've travelled, like say, remote villages in the Philippines or tiny Mayan settlements in the Guatemalan highlands.

I'd failed to consider the advantages of travelling in places where I look very different. There, people expect me to be clueless – a veritable danger to myself – and coddle me appropriately.

In London, I arrived with pasty skin and a big, pointy nose, so the only obvious differences between me and many of the locals are:
  • I am a sidewalk speedbump
  • I don't wear all black, beige and grey
  • I frequently make eye contact with strangers
At first glance, most people likely think I am one of them, albeit a slower, more colourful version with a staring problem. But then, I veer for the UP escalator, wanting to go DOWN, because it's on the right. Or, I step off the curb into oncoming traffic because I look the wrong way before crossing the street. I pay for everything with paper money, because counting pence takes too long and I find the huffing queue behind me intimidating. Sometimes, I forget anyone understands me. Actually, I'm getting kind of used to feeling like an idiot.

Still, I'd rather reserve that feeling for my casual weekend life, and not have it leak into the desperate, terrified and anxiety-ridden job-hunting sphere where my brain and blood pressure spend most of their time.

But on Friday, I got an email response from a prospective employer reading:
Sorry, that position has already been filled. Thank you for your interest.

Amy Whoever.
By then, I was really tired of wasting time researching companies and producing well-informed cover letters and tailored CVs, only to receive messages that the position was already filled and 'someone' had simply forgotten to remove the ad posting. So, I forwarded the email to a friend I knew could commiserate, adding the unfortunate message:
Then remove the effing ad, AMY!
About 30 minutes passed before I checked for a response from my friend, and that's when I noticed that instead of clicking FORWARD, I'd...

Oh, shit.




My father's voice boomed across the Atlantic Ocean and into my ear, "Never write down what you wouldn't want the whole world to read!" it said.

"Even in the age of DELETE," I amended for future reference.

Amy never wrote me back, but she did take down the ad.


wyliekat said...

Oh gawd, that horrible rush of blood to face as you realize you've done something horrible, via e-mail. I've so lived that moment.

On the up side - you must've gotten some satisfaction out of the fact that you got to vent your spleen on at least one useless person who cannot remove a job posting when it's time . . .

I'm Kate... said...

You haven't lived in the age of email until you've done this at least once, or twice. And yeah.... I know that "OHHHHHHH SHIT DAMN ...SHIT!!!" feeling, where you're whole body heats up and your ears start to ring.

Oh, and give yourself a few weeks. Before you know it, you'll be a part of the huffing queue standing behind some sweet London newbie trying to buy an apple, a subway map, and a bottle of water with pence. :)

i am playing outside said...

i will NOT look where i'm told. lol

Kate Savage said...

wyliekat - You're spot on. After I calmed down a bit and realized I'd just have to live with my mistake, I asked myself: Did I mean it?

The answer was a resounding: Yes. Yes I did.

I'm Kate - "...trying to buy an apple, a subway map, and a bottle of water with pence." And especially since everyone knows that would total at least a million pounds! :P

i am playing outside - A friend told me that when children are small here, they have RIGHT-LEFT sessions at school to practice, so they remember to look. I've been thinking ... THAT is where the Canadian education system is truly lacking. Numeracy and literacy really pale in comparison to basic survival.

surviving myself said...

Well, at least she got your point.

i am playing outside said...

aaw i want a look left class! hopefully theyll offer it within the 3.5 months of university i have left LOL

Raven said...

That is just so funny!!! Even better than your facebook comment from awhile back.
Thank you for sharing your mess ups ;)

kirsten said...

Having a great time reading your missives from ole London-town (or Londreary, as many of my friends who have spent time there like to call it). You should've done this ages ago! Not that your blog wasn't fun before -- it was! -- but you are daily reaching new levels of hilariousness.

Is it wrong that I am so amused by your misfortunes?

I feel that it might be wrong. And yet, I am unable stop reading...

Kate Savage said...

surviving myself - She's become an icon. "Eff Amy!" is working its way into my sphere's vernacular.

i am playing - I don't think Ottawa goes 'left'.

Raven - There will be more! And welcome back!

kirsten - Nice to hear from you again, too! So long as you're still laughing, I'll keep writing...if only because that means I haven't yet been flattened by a lorry. Say hello to Montreal for me!

i am playing outside said...

well technically, you're supposed to look BOTH WAYS before you cross the street.

Kate Savage said...

i am playing outside - Tell THAT to Stephen Harper.

kirsten said...

"Lorry", "chuffed" -- I see you're picking up the lingo at a rate of knots!

And Montreal said to tell you that she misses you....

Un-Bob said...

There's an etiquette to job hunting -- on both sides of the equation. Effin' Amy blew it. I'm just not sure that was the appropriate way of informing her of her misstep. :)

The good/bad news is that she's just a low level flunky -- like you! In other words, she's just trying not to get flattened by a lorry. And you yelled at her!

Your Dad, of course, is right, as Dads are wont to be. You haven't lived, though, until you've replied-all on an email system with about 40,000 other employees -- each of them waiting to pounce with their own idiotic reply-all suggesting that you don't, you know, reply-all. The end result is that the IT department has to spend their lunch hour adding additional storage capacity to the email server.

Anonymous said...

HAHAHAH oh goodness, that's pretty awful. You were just being honest!