Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Cheer Up - Yourself and Everyone!
Frankly, this was going to come a little later, probably when the story would actually have come full circle, but I couldn't hold it any longer. Now, if you poke a kid with a secret in his chest a couple of times, the tight lips curve into a smile. One more poke, and the story spills, complete with the colorful sparklers in the eyes, making it quite a show!
It was a winter noon when I was supposed to go for a job interview. Usually, I am quite in control before I go for one... I can see some eyebrows going up, saying, "oh yeah, so you are saying you are never nervous before one? you are so good huh?"... No, I am nervous, but not to a point where I am smelling like a rotten onion, before I reach the office! Lets put it this way, I believe, there is a job requirement, and there is a skill set I possess, and what an interview is, is just a way to find a match. Its not a judgement on me. Don't worry, I wasn't this smart since I was born. I did mull over this one interview, where I blew it up on a very simple question. I realized what a blunder it was, by the time I was in the parking lot. And I had this huge urge to go back up and tell the guy, "don't give me the job, but don't judge me on that stupid answer". Finally one day I killed the beast and said to myself, "Women, you didn't do it right that day, and thats all that is to it." Since then I was liberated from the fret fits.
But this interview was different. It came after a year long sabbatical for various reasons and studies. It came from one of the most coveted organizations in my line. It came in a market swarmed with unemployed/ underemployed high skilled, local competitors. And not only did they have to like me, they had to like me enough to take the trouble to do some visa related paperwork.
This really was the first time I was meeting an employer, otherwise I was at the mercy of recruiters of all shapes and sizes. Who weren't sure if I would be able to bean-count in America, since I was bean-counting in India all this while. Once a recruiter asked me, "so you have a Chartered Accountancy certificate, but do you have a Bachelors in Accounting? Because this client is specifically looking for someone who has acquired at least a Bachelor's degree in Accounting." There were some who even took an unannounced written test (2 hours of it, by the way), they were stumped by the results. Had to be, they gave me an exam on basic accounting and I have been doing this for past 8yrs of my life. So now I was a classic case of Catch 22. I couldn't get an entry level job because I was overqualified and I couldn't get a job matching my capabilities because I hadn't worked in America previously. Calls after calls, mails after mails, all I was getting good at, was guessing the reason for a 'No' for a particular application.
Having gone through this frustrating ordeal for a long time, this really was that one opportunity I had to grab. A perfect recruiter, a perfect job, a perfect profile, the impossibility of getting another opportunity like this, my desperation to grab it; in all, it was a perfect recipe for a mess-up. And like a cherry on the top, I was well aware of this too.
Anyways, I call for the cab. Dressed in a dapper suit (cringing inside, at the bomb I had to shell out on it), an overcoat on top, fully loaded I get into the cab.
"So where are we going today miss?" asked the cab driver, in his cheerful Jamaican accent.
"Asylum Street, Downtown" I replied. (Thats just the name of that street, I haven't hit the asylum yet)
"So you have a job where you can work from home and go to office anytime of the day?" He asked.
"Oh no, I am not in that kind of luck. In fact, I am going for an interview. Wish me luck!" I said, smiling back at him; and that was just the cue he needed.
"There is no way you are not getting that job lady. Just give them that beautiful smile that you gave me when you got into the cab, there is no way they won't hire you." Suddenly, I took a liking to this old gentlemen, the stereotypical, jovial, Jamaican.
"So what profession are you into?"
"I am an accountant."
"So you have to get some certification to work as an accountant right?"
"Yes, I have my certification from India."
"An accountant, and that too from India, thats impressive. You shouldn't worry then, you have what it takes." Now a lot of it was coming out of the fact that I was a "female", and I should be taking it with a pinch of salt, but honestly, it was irresistibly pleasant on the ears.
"I hope they think like you too." I added.
"Well, let me tell you something miss. The good old English education (referring to the Brit influence here) keeps us in good stead. We people have strong fundamentals, and these guys know it. They have the technology, they have the presentation, which is all very nice. But that cannot overshadow fundamentals. And as long as you are confident that you know your subject matter, there is no reason why you should be nervous." I was all ears!
"The problem is, our guys know everything, but they cannot talk. And out here, even if they don't know anything, they talk. All their parents teach them right from childhood is talk talk talk. Whereas, our parents told us to shut up. Speak only when its necessary, or only when you know something. Don't make a fool of yourself. Our parents messed up with us big time. But when we get talking, these guys understand that we are good. So remember, whatever you do, don't stop talking."
Just as he finished his 2 minutes speech, we arrived at the office. He had unknowingly or knowingly, given me just the thing I needed, motivation. I couldn't find the right words to say to him then, so I paid him, exchanged courtesies and smiled. And he said, "See! Thats what I am talking about. You've got it, I am telling ya."
The person who walked into that office at that moment was not me. It was someone, who could only think of what skills she had, what all she could bring to the table that day and who was a compulsive smiler. The two penny suit was worthless in front of the person wearing it.
And its a cliche that all inspirational stories have a happy ending. But cliches are cliches because there is a reason why they are overused.
When I got the offer, I was telling my dad about this little incident and how I wished I could call this gentleman to tell him, how he touched my life that day. And my dad said, keep your eyes open, maybe you'll bump into him some other day, but more importantly, be nice to people. You can never even imagine, which deed of yours touches someone in which walk of life.
I know the Paulo Coelho fans would jump and say, when you want something, the whole universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. Its a good thought, but for every success, there are hundreds of failed attempts. And I don't want to say, stay motivated all the time. I think thats not possible. Those failures are as much a reality as the successes. But be hopeful, for yourself and for everyone. Hope will find you your motivation when the time comes. Each moment is different, each attempt is different. Just like every match/ game is different. If every team walked in to the ground with just their stats, there won't be anyone cheering the bottom rungs. There won't be those magical moments when the underdogs win and the ones when deadbeat teams win their first trophy in their history.
And most importantly, keep smiling! :) This one works like a beauty!
PS: Now the deal is, I have an offer, but they are completing the paper work, background checks and the HR blah blahs. If everything goes smoothly, my new year will start with a bang. Even if it doesn't, it won't break my heart 'coz then its not my doing. I meant to post it in Jan, but then- What the heck? :P :P But yeah save the congratulations!