Lucky me woke up at 7 a.m. for my first day on the job for LiveABC, a company that publishes English-learning magazines and books (I think). It didn’t start out so smoothly—my supervisor had given me not only the wrong MRT station exit, but also the wrong building number. When it was five past 9 and I hadn’t shown up, Evelyn noticed the error and chased me down at the address she had given me. She led me a half-block further to my actual new place of work, took me right up to a desk, and put me to work. I got no tour; no introductions were made save one with another woman who will be giving me assignments; there was no welcome packet detailing the company mission and values and expectations of dress and decorum.
After maybe an hour, the gal sitting back to back with me turned around and asked if I was new. She introduced herself as Flauren and explained that she is a Chinese editor for Biz. It meant as much to me as it does to you. She asked all the standard questions—How long have you been here? How long are you staying? Where are you from? Are you a student?—and it turns out she had gone to university in upstate New York and had spent two months living in Coronado learning English.
Flauren introduced me to the other people in our cell (I’m in one giant office with half-wall cubicles arranged into cells of six or five + pillar). Next to me sits Scarlett, and behind her is Ivy, both Taiwanese women who also work for Biz. Flauren sits between Ivy and a middle-aged man named Steph from Arizona (I think). His first words to me were “Welcome to hell,” with a tired look on his face that said he was more serious than joking. Seeing the surprise on my face, he followed up with “Just at deadlines, people get a little frantic.” Psh! Bring on your deadlines. I’ve mastered last-minute franticness with four years at UCSB.
I had been given four weeks of lessons than needed questions to go with them and very few guides on how to do so. Writing questions had been the application test, and Evelyn had been surprised when I said I’d never written test questions before (nervous laughter after betraying myself as under qualified—“I’ve taken a lot of tests.”), but I didn’t really know what I was doing. I plugged away for my four-hour shift, and that was it. I left the darkened office (lights low for the lunch hour) and signed out with Evelyn.
Then it was a race to school, where I had to finish my homework (as I’d been unable to do it at Roxy the night before) and prepare for my midterm exam: a ten-minute presentation about my family which you can view by clicking here.
Somehow it all worked out, even with laoshi having me go first. My slideshow was well-organized and had many of the key words on it, so it wasn’t much of a problem that I hadn’t done a whole lot of preparing. It was a relatively simple presentation—names, occupations, and likes. I was beet-red during the Q&A that followed, but that’s what public speaking does to me.
The class ended successfully enough, and Colin and I went home for a lovely evening of unwinding.
Or so we thought.