Sunday, May 31, 2009

Come On Contract!

This past weekend was rainy, then sunny, then both rainy and sunny at the same time. It's sunny now, at least for the next ten minutes or so.

The Russian language company I had applied to in December contacted me this past week and after a telephone interview they offered me a position and sent me a contract.

The telephone interview was with a British guy and it went very well. I had had one interview before, back in December, with a different company and was completely unprepared for it. Used to an interview in North America, I was prepared to extoll the virtues of my ESL work experience and make a generally good impression with my charming personality.

Instead they quizzed me on grammar and lesson planning and asked me to come up with, on the spot, a lesson plan for presenting the Second Conditional using the Presentation, Practise, and Production method. Okay. Ummm....let's see...

I was really unprepared for this line of questioning and mumbled through a series of dislocated memories of lessons I had given three years before in South Korea. I didn't get that job.

This time around, however, I was prepared and before the guy had the opportunity to ask me for a lesson plan on any random subject I took control and casually brought up a lesson I had delivered on the Second Conditional. Needless to say I had one prepared in paper in front of me. He was quite impressed and the very next day I had an email offering me a job in Moscow.

I accepted, printed off the attached contract and signed it and promptly procrastinated on getting it sent back to him.

After a couple of days I stopped in at Staples Business Depot but the cost of international faxing was $5.99 per page. Seeing as I'm living paycheque to paycheque here in Ottawa I couldn't fax this off and expect to pay rent, but I found a Korean-run internet cafe that scanned it for me and I emailed the scan of the signed contract and my passport to Moscow. The very next day I received an email that read "We must receive a faxed copy of the contract in order to close the job" Crap. Anybody have $60?

Thinking quickly on my feet, I took the revolutionary step of sending him another email with the same scans. Aren't I brilliant?

Monday, May 25, 2009


Okay, so I'm in Ottawa and not in Russia like I planned. What can I say about Ottawa? Well, I'm not particularly fond of Canada's capital city.

For starters, it is a city that lacks character. Maybe it doesn't lack it. It just hides it really, really well. There just seems to be no soul to the city, as if though it were a wasteland of bureaucrats plugging through their day so that they can afford suburban homes and SUVs (or Smart Cars) in order to make it easier to be bureaucrats getting through their day.

Wait, it doesn't just SEEM that way. It IS that way!
This city is expensive. I'm talking overpriced. The reason for this is..well, I don't know why. It just is. I can understand why Toronto and Vancouver have high prices. After all, they are metropolitan cities with millions of people living in them. But Ottawa? I think that in addition to all the self-serving bureaucracy, Ottawa has a real inferiority complex. This town WANTS to be considered a major-league town (and they do have the Ottawa Senators NHL team), but really they are like the poodle trying to play in the park with the German Sheppards and Labradors.

Another problem with Ottawa is that it is FILLED with pretentious left-wingers who blab on and on about stuff they have no idea about. I'm not critiscizing anybody's political stance, but there is a culture here where people talk to you as if though you, naturally, support their opinion.

For instance, if there's a plane crash in, say, Cambodia, people in Ottawa will say to you "Those damn conservatives, eh?". Not only is there no logical connection, but who the hell are you? How are you sure that I'm not some crazy gun-toting republican from Arkansas?

They are also filled with hypocrisy. I have had left-wing zealots preach to me about the ills of the health system in South Korea and they have never been there, let alone used the health system there. I have, and it works so much better than here. Of course an opposing viewpoint is considered sacrilege in Ottawa regardless of facts. One of the ironies about most of these left-wing crazies is that the majority of them are fairly well-off yet feel they speak for the poor.

Talking about the poor, this town is also kind of trashy. The downtown core has degenerated a lot over the past ten years and now the buildings look decrepid and crack-heads roam the streets muttering to themselves.

Oh ya, talking about crack heads and Ottawans, your typical person from Ottawa would say "Give the crack heads more crack, because that is how to cure them." or, when a crack head robs somebody, they would say "It's the system that let them down".

Why can't Canada have a labour-camp system, with wips and barbed wire and vicious attack dogs straining at the leash?

But I digress...

The main reason I dislike Ottawa so much is not the people. Aside from my family I have met lots of great people in this town (most of whom aren't from Ottawa). The thing about Ottawa, and Ontario, and places like Calgary, that depresses me is the uselessness of life. Here, you live to work. You get a couple of degrees, you work all week and spend two days relaxing and then do it again and again and again. You have a couple of kids so that they can eventually work, too. Maybe you go to an all-inclusive resort a couple of times in your life. Then you die. There's just no point to being alive.

Unless you go do something really, really stupid, like teach English overseas.
So I'm going to Russia to teach English in September.