Saturday, September 6, 2008

Gainful Employment ? ! ? :)

The employment adventures have begun. My situation here is a precarious one, as most people my age from other countries need to have either a study or work permit to come and reside in Canada legally for a long period of time. I am not eligible for a study permit, as DJD is not an accredited educational institution, and I am not eligible for a work permit, because they will not be paying me. To have a work permit here, I must have either obtained it through some sort of exchange program, or I have to be sponsored by a business here who is willing to go through the paperwork to vouch that I am the only person here qualified for the job (a tough thing to do when I am looking for a serving job). One of the other gals at DJD told us that she works for the LuluLemon in the Chinook Center (translation - very popular Canadian dance wear and athletics chain in a big mall near me) and that because there are Lulu's in the US, they might be able to sponsor me. She sounded really gung-ho about trying to get myself or one of my roommates to work their - I bet they get a cash bonus if they refer friends.

There is a crazy labor shortage in these parts right now, so much that you can basically walk in anywhere and get a job. The service industry has just boomed here, because it is in response to the huge boom in oil business. Calgary is the richest province in Alberta, because while their is oil business all over the province, the actually headquarters of these businesses are in Calgary. This has created an excess of business execs and rich people that have plenty of money and want to go out and spend it.

I want a piece of this pie, as I am currently using my savings to liver here. I do have enough to get me by through May (the end of the program), but these are my life savings, and I do not really wish to compromise them if I do not have to. These savings were meant for grad school, but I guess plans change sometimes, now don't they? Back to the permit situation. Employers are not really allowed to hire anyone who isn't a Canadian citizen or does not have a work permit, but I guess they often do anyway because they are so desperate for (even somewhat) qualified workers. With this in mind, I was told to print out resumes and references, and another person at DJD suggested that I get letters of reccomendation from my teachers, explaining my situation and blostering my character. With these things in mind and hand, I set out on Friday afternoon around 3:45 to try and find a job.

I knew I could only be out for a few hours, as restaurants would soon be getting into their dinner rush, and I did not want to be that annoying person that bothers you about employment when you are clearly busy. I am looking primarily for serving work, as it is good, quick money, and generally never that boring. I walked up the street to the Reagle Beagle, one of the first pubs I saw near our house on my first night here. I am looking only in my area because I do not want to have to waste commute time if I don't have to, and I am looking only at small, locally owned pubs and restuarants. In talking to people, these kind of businesses are the most likely (and probably the only ones) who will hire me under the table with out a work permit, paying me only in tips with no wage so I am not on the record for taxes. I went into the Beagle and up to the bar to ask about employment. She at first sounded as though they were not hiring for the time, and just because I was there and she had my resume in her hand, I explained my situation forthright, which is the best way I think to go about such a thing. After having explained that, she actually perked up and sounded interested, and vocalized that they 'could work around that kind of thing'. She had me come talk to her manager, who explained that while they do not have the shifts I am looking for open right now (Fri night, Sat day and night, Sun day and night), that they most likely would within the week, and that they will call me next week. He said that they have a lot of turn-over, but also a lot of solid stand-bys who have been there for awhile, which is good. I couldn't believe how easy that first encounter was. I left feeling good about the situation.

When I left, there were two guys outside smoking, who had overheard my situation, and asked how it went. I told them, and they joked around with me a little, and the conversation eventually turned to the fact that they both work for a steele company who needs drivers. They said I would not need a Canada drivers license, that a Minnesota one is just fine, that it is just driving execs back and forth between sights, and starts at about 23 dollars an hour. This sounded amazing to me. I gave them my first name and last initial, as they wanted to look me up on Facebook. I figured since I have no important information on Facebook, this was harmless in the light of a 23 dollar an hour job possibility. An addendum to this story from later on in the evening; I was having dinner at home with Jayla and her boyfriend, and was telling them about this experience. They both warned me to be careful, as there have recently been businesses springing up that hire hot young girls to drive out to these steele mills, that are far out into the country and are full of men who have not seen a woman in days, weeks. They said that these businesses basically objectify you. Such a job is certainly not for me - I do not even want to work a beer tub - I have seen this at home too, but girls are basically dressed super-skimpy with too much makeup to hand out beers from large ice-tubs ar clubs. I am sure they make a shit ton of money, but no amount of money is worth me compromising my worth as a person and a woman. Moral of the story, if they contact me via Facebook, I will make it clear that I am not interested, and then ignore them.

On with the adventure - I was basically out walking North on MacLeod Drive, a big road that runs through Calgary a few blocks away from our house. As I have not been out walking during this week anywhere but between home and the studio, I had not been this way yet, so I was not exactly sure what was out there. I did happen upon a dance supply store - how convienent. Then I noticed several restuarants across the road from me. I crossed over, and visited the first destination, 'Rachmen's.' This place is clearly a touristy destination for people visiting during Stampede. It was all wood with several huge, tiered decks in the front with several bar areas, decorated with schmoozy signs about being a cowboy. I actually thought that all these elements were somewhat charming - how funny would it be to be able to say that I worked at a bonafide cowboy bar when I was in Canada? I went in and handed in a resume, only to be told that they are almost positive that I need a work permit for them to hire me. I guess it was a chain, which I had not suspected from the original looking shape and decor, but the chain-factor is probably why this wasn't going to work out for me. I could tell that from here on, this adventure was going to be really hit and miss, as I am not sure whether anywhere I am stopping into is chain or local.

I moved on to the place next door, called Shank's Athletics Club. This place looked grandeous and cool as well, so I stopped in and got to talking with their hiring manager. They too were a chain, and she opened up and said that last holiday season, they hired people without work permits, got found out, and got in a load of trouble. But she did suggest several other local places to try within walking distance in the area. I thought it was really nice of her to go out of her way and spend time giving me these hints, and I was sure to give her copious thanks.

Upon her suggestion, I walked back North on MacLeod to the King's Head, an independent up the way. When I went in, I waited for a bit, then asked a waitress who was entering in orders if they were hiring. I was sure to preface it with 'I know you are busy, but,' but such manors didn't matter. She snapped back that she was the only one on the floor and that her manager was in a meeting. It was only 4:45 at this point, so I figured they would not yet be busy and that it would still be ok for me to stop in. I tried to brush her off, and decided to ask the bartender. She snapped back that they were maybe hiring, but to come back because it was happy hour. Happy hour on a Friday? Was I wrong to be surprised by this? It is certainly not common in the Twin Cities to have Friday happy hours. I told her I was not aware that it was happy hour and apologized. I left feeling pissed off and mistreated. I feel like I really do not want to go back their today, but even more than that, I really want a job, so I probably will.

After that, I hiked up to Peanuts, a bar within the hotel next door. They refered me to the front to pick up an application (the first place along this journey that even mentioned an application), and that I should finish it and turn it in with my resume, and they would give me a call. Seeing as though it ws their happy hour as well, I grabbed an application from the front, and decided that my luck had run out that day. It was raining, cold, and windy, I have gotten two cold responses in a row, and it was getting to be the time that they all were having happy hour. I decided to stop back to both these places tomorrow anyway, as well as to head down the other direction on macLeod to try some of the other places that the nice woman at Shank's had suggested. I headed back home, a somewhat wet, but definately cold mix of downtrodden and hopeful.

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