1. Construction job explained.
2. Plans for future revealed.
1. CONSTRUCTION JOB. The shortest job I ever signed on for.
The main gist of the plan was to come back to Canada and take one last shot at living back in C-land. I wanted to try my hand at a different type of job from my past jobs, and, after hearing all the propaganda and hype of the wonderfulness of the world of hard labor in Canada I decided to investigate. I have been trying to keep my options open and be relatively open minded about things. Below is the story of one of my misadventures so far…
I met a contact of a contact of my mother’s who owns a local construction company. He offered me a job as a laborer and a possible trainee for becoming a carpenter. The money was tempting. I showed up and met him. He was quite excited that someone actually was stupid enough to sign with him. So I signed up. He talked a lot about workplace hazards and ran me through the most dumbed down multiple choice exam regarding workplace safety I have ever written. Then he had me sign a paper which included the caveat: “is there anything that can prevent you from doing this job?” and the following list included T1 Diabetes. (which I do have.) I told him I am, indeed a T1. His response was: don’t worry about that, we will get you to be a driver or something.
I signed up the driver forms and looked at the papers, which again had large print warnings about possible eliminators for the job. T1 diabetes was there, again. It also stated that legally to be a driver I needed a class 1 license, which I didn’t have. The construction boss scoffed at this and stated that if I can drive a small car, it wasn’t any harder to drive a flatbed truck. This, I do believe, is probably true- for a small flatbed truck it probably isn’t much different than driving a large van (and getting a separate license for this is kind of a stretch IMO), which I have done in the past. However, technically it seemed illegal to me and doubts began floating through my mind and then looking at dirty, tired looking men unloading heavy, sharp tools that could take off fingers from large trailers all day and working in a dust filled environment and forgetting to wear a respirator/facemask for myself that day probably didn’t help.
My diabetes control lately hasn’t been stellar. That probably is due to stress and general overindulgence in comfort foods. I didn’t feel terribly comfortable about the whole deal. I don’t like using unknown, untrusted contacts to get jobs; especially if I am actually completely unqualified to do them and legally probably shouldn’t be doing them according to the workplace hazard manuals I had just been glancing at. It was a great job, theoretically. It paid well and sounded relatively easy- but I felt like it was sketchy and kind of like I was a dirty scumwad for taking a job opportunity from someone else just because my parents knew someone who knew someone… (I had previously applied for a trade job relating to surveying- which has nothing to do with woodworking.) I was open to the idea of being a carpenter but I honestly hadn’t thought about it too seriously until this job had been offered to me by my parents, who were just trying to be helpful.
I worked that job for 1 day, then quit. They kept the money and I don’t intend to pursue it: I really didn’t do much that day other than observe and remove some painting tape as one of the illogical requests from a client that we were obligated to listen to. It was more of a try and see sort of thing for me. I felt unsafe, unqualified and quite stupid and embarrassed for even doing it for a long time after that, but I figure I should be open about what happened on that job, so I can get on with my life and hopefully not need to talk about that again.
Having learned that a lot of safety rules exist that probably are actually protecting myself and others from the possible fallout of poorly controlled diabetes (and having read some scary articles about T1 drivers going off bridges and plunging into busy crosstown traffic highways) I didn’t feel very good about the whole idea of being in a construction related career and having to smile and accept illogical and unsafe requests from random clients working at random locations and random hours. Many years ago I chose to not follow that path, and so far I think it was the correct one.
Education is a good choice for me: but having read recent working conditions being imposed on teachers in Canada, I highly doubt that my path for education will lead me back to a Canadian teaching job; 56 hours a week on average of forced volunteering doesn’t appeal to me: I would like to point out at this point that my original degree, recreation administration should have been what got me into working in after school programs as a paid admin/ ops person to ease the burden on the brave teachers in the Canadian public school system. But. it seems the government doesn’t like paying people to do what they think is easy work, so they dumped all that extra admin and daily ops stuff on teachers because its just so easy and fun to evaluate kids all day and then play with them after school, apparently. Yes, those disposable heroes of public service that they are seen as by our drop-out ‘entrepreneurial’ leaders of government today. The same leaders who bravely go off to negotiate business deals in far off tropical countries, appoint senators who steal and lie, and can’t find money to help train their future heirs.
Truthfully I preferred the working conditions in Taiwan to the deceitful and dishonest bargaining tactics that I see being used on teachers here by government politicians and large groups of hostile parents with personal axes to grind about having been given negative feedback about their performance/their spoiled child’s performance in the past from well meaning teachers who were hoping for some corrective action to be done. I am not so thrilled about having to deal with little Johnny meth-kid’s parents and his case workers out here. Little Johnny and his parents are on meth because of shitty, outdated policies being pursued… but thats another rant for another day.
The lifestyle I was able to lead on a comparatively lower salary with superior purchasing power I had in Taiwan was better, and honestly felt more civilized and appreciated out there. I intend to pursue education as a career, still, having had that background (quite strongly) for 12 years. I have made comments of being tired of working with children in the past: this is true, and I have to say, I prefer the company of adults and sane, rational people to that of children. However, people who know me well, know that I generally enjoyed working with kids (usually, perhaps with the exception of junior high aged kids with hormonal imbalances) (I would say I was happy 50% of the time I spent with my students, bored 35% of the time and annoyed the other 15%) and I usually used the excuse of being ‘burnt out’ as a way of getting out from under the thumb of certain psychotic/sadistic/misguided school administration people I worked under for short periods of time, in order to smooth the exit so I could get onto other positions without having earned (much) bad blood with past admin. (Letting them ‘keep their face’ is vital to having good references: I cant really tell them that they are morons, after all.) (That being said— the admin people I served with for jobs I stayed at for over 2 years were wonderful people who were well organized and logical. The admin people at jobs I served at less than 6 months under were the crazies I just didn’t want to deal with. You all know who you are and I suspect my ex-bosses will never read this crap anyways.) I also have to say, I didn’t think I would end up working all the time as a children’s edu-tainer when I went for a university degree program. I left my good job at Wagor as I wanted to try jobs working with adults; I have actually found I prefer working with adults and probably will return to having part time 2ndary work with them more as a way to keep sane and have good conversations. I would love to do full time adult teaching, but the pay is, unfortunately too low to exist on and support my family on. Hence my attempt to return to Canada and attempting to make a career shift. I have to say, being an editor wasn’t too bad as a job; the sitting and staring at tests in a poisonous silent environment was killing me, however.
I withdrew my application for surveyor training (AKA Geometrics) as it would require me to do long days of fieldwork and 2 years of intensive math, which isn’t realistically where I have strength or talent. After having operated in semi-hostile environments for a while and knowing my own limits and forgetfulness, the chances are quite good that I would end up out in the middle of nowhere, alone, without backup food, and being low. Being low rather sucks. Being low without food handy is something I have never been in the position of, and in Canada, which has huge tracts of land that lack a 7-11 within 10 minutes of driving distance, this could be a large problem for me. Safety is a big concern for me after having seen many examples of cases where things CAN go wrong, they always DO go wrong. So I have switched my interest to more realistic fields:
Option 1: Medical and X-ray technician, 2 year program. My past first aid training and familiarity with the test setting of frequent visits to test centers since my diagnosis as a T1 led me to this. Alas, my marks in University are unconvincing; it appears it is currently a popular program and is very competitive for high school students to get into this one. My feeling is I have a 33% chance of getting in, but not a strong chance. I do think this would be a good match for me; it pays well, and I would be in a regular, controlled environment with other adults and stable work, hopefully. If I get accepted into this, I will take it and work hard to finish it and hopefully work and live in Canada, ideally in Vancouver, Calgary, or Toronto.
Option 2: Education after degree, 2 year program. My feeling is I have an 85% chance of getting into this one, based upon my working experiences overseas and my marks are in line with requirements. However I also suspect that if I get into education I will end up back in TW and raising my daughter to learn mandarin as her mother tongue (which it is, actually!) This option is the best way of ensuring that I get a job that I like and can regularly return to Canada more often with. The teaching jobs in Canada are usually high stress, and long hours filled with thankless tasks and forced volunteerism (ie slavery) The jobs in Taiwan stick to the point, don’t usually jerk you around each year, and generally after
Option 3: stay in Canada and work retail. This, emotionally is fine, and if I was single, unmarried and young and never had a kid, I probably would have done this. I find retail jobs easy compared to teaching; however, economically it won’t work unless I work 2 jobs and my wife works 1. We won’t see our kid; either a grandparent will raise her and make all the mistakes they made on us before with the added benefit of spoiling her horribly. I don’t want this to happen. Sorry, mom and dad. You won’t be needing to raise my kid for me, you don’t want it and neither do I. I will work retail while I go to university/NAIT. I like my current job, aside from the salary, anyways. I am not staying in Canada to raise my kid in your house unless I get into school and have no other choice. Perhaps if some multinational company decided to train me as a manager this option might work- but I suspect the chances of this are lower than my chances of getting into Medical /X-ray Tech.
Option 4: If I don’t get into a degree program (ie. both Nait and U of A refuse me based upon my average, middling academic marks of my past and my convoluted application process from the past 3 months and past application rejections… ) I will return to accept a standing job offer in Taiwan, most likely re-locating in Taichung, a city I have begun to actually think is progressing and changing to be a MUCH better place. I may look into previous employers to see if any positions are open at any of their affiliated schools, and I plan to be serious and loyal and helpful childcare worker in the mornings if I cannot get on with any private international-ized schools, and ideally teach adults afternoon and some evenings and/or weekends until another, different editing or private business opportunity opens up for myself. The advantage this has is then both my wife and myself are happier, we know the locale and market environment, and I have some financial leverage in this environment as an experienced college grad/teacher who knows the local mores and norms and cultural points- and I get to use all the skills I picked up and not just waste my Mandarin. In Canada, I appear to have no personal bargaining career leverage and that, in the end, means I am unlikely to stay here. It isn’t personal: I love my family and friends in Canada, but I don’t see my wife and myself being happy here unless I can get a well paying job that I LIKE and feel safe doing, and offers regular benefits and hours. I can also see branching out and doing something tourism related in TW, but only if I have full control over the whole thing and get full profits from it for my benefit.
That is my reasoning explained. So no, I am not a lazy shit who cant get real jobs. No I am not suicidal. No I am not depressed (most of the time, anyways) I am a father who wanted to examine the options for life in his homeland- I am so far finding it… difficult, but not impossible. I will see how the fates work out for me. I hope I can stay here, truthfully. If I get into post secondary training again I think it will be easy for me to stay here and get something happening. If I don’t… well I don’t see it worth staying here and being miserable working dead-end jobs that aren’t livable. The only other options seem to be construction and resource extraction jobs- both of which are not acceptable to me. My wife is adaptable, but honestly there isn’t a lot to keep her here, either. We are better off being abroad and working dead end jobs that ARE livable, in the end. It has been a long road to realize it; but in the famous words of Popeye, I am what I yam. Perhaps I am a sweet potato after all. (Sorry, Taiwanese joke most of you wont get.)