Dear Diary – Page 101 (1975)

Continued from Dear Diary – Page 100

At breakfast the following day, I was told to pack sufficient clothes for a few days as the family were all going to a cottage on a lake in the country, and I was expected to go with them. My initial reaction was to politely decline because my main priority had to be getting some work however, I had apparently landed at Thanksgiving so I couldn’t do any job hunting for a day or two anyway, and they were insistent on my joining them at their cottage.

I also suggested that my time should perhaps be better spent getting resumes mailed out, and getting my Social Insurance application going but, again, my plans were sidelined. They advised me that they were in the middle of a mail strike and, with no end in sight, it would serve no purpose mailing anything anywhere, and my Social Insurance card would have to come from Ottawa anyway! Canada was becoming quite a challenge!

The long weekend spent at the cottage was certainly interesting even though I was mentally elsewhere. I was introduced to more people than I could possibly remember, and was initiated into the game of “Horse Shoes”. Soon we were heading back to Toronto, and I could start looking for work. Over the past few days, the need to work took on a much greater urgency as I realized that the money I had brought with me, while significant in England, was of minimal value here in Canada.

It was suggested to me that the North York Board of Education may have some opportunities which could provide a badly needed income. I walked into their personnel area and had a fascinating conversation. Obviously it is not “word for word” accurate, but is pretty close!

“Hi. My name is Colin Chappell, and I landed here from England last week and am now looking for work”

“Hi Colin. What kind of work are you looking for?”

“What kind of work do you have available?”

“We have a short term vacancy in our school maintenance department. It involves answering telephones and relaying building problems to the appropriate people.”

“OK. I am interested.”

“Hold on for a moment. I need to get somebody to talk to you.”

A gentleman shortly arrived and sat next to me.

“Well Colin… what was your last job in England?”

“A Buyer for a heavy engineering company.”

“What did you buy?”

“Parts for manufacturing steam turbines for ships; for spinning machines in the textile industry, and for compressors and pumps in the chemical industry.”

“What makes you think that you could do the job in our maintenance department?”

“It’s answering telephones right?”

“Yes. Right.”

“Well how difficult can it be to answer telephones?”

“They will be using a lot of building terminology.”

“That’s ok. I am familiar with building terminology.”

“You are really over-qualified for the job.”

“I don’t agree. I am really desperate to start working and so am perfectly qualified.”

“How would you feel if I said no to your request?”

“I would ask you to justify why I couldn’t be hired as a telephone receptionist, especially as I understand it is only a short term vacancy anyway.”

“When can you start?”


“How about tomorrow?”

“Great. Thanks so much!”

Just as he was leaving….

“By the way, you do have a Social Insurance card right?”

“No. I landed during your mail strike. I filled out the applications but apparently they are going nowhere until Canada Post gets back to work.”

“Then we have a problem because we cannot hire you without your S.I. number.”

“Because of a mail strike situation, you cannot not hire me?”

“Well technically we can hire you, but we cannot pay you!”

“How about hiring me, and keeping my wages until I can produce my S.I. card?”

“You would work under that condition?”

“I have no choice do I? I can either work and eventually get paid, or not work and never get paid.”

“You’re hired. Start tomorrow!”

The job worked out very well and I was told not to worry about giving them notice of leaving, but to take the first opportunity in my own profession that became available. It was a fun six weeks working for them! Canada was starting to look promising.

17 thoughts on “Dear Diary – Page 101 (1975)

  1. So glad that things worked out for you, that at last your journey to Canada was getting brighter!
    Totally smiling through your whole conversation about getting a job. All about knowing how to negotiate, right? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life can pretty much be broken down into a series of negotiations. You have to determine what you want, and what resources you have to get it. In that job application (?), I was prepared to start immediately; clearly showed my motivation to work; put the HR person in a position to either accept me, or come up with a good reason for not doing so …. and for a telephone reception position? He was quite happy to say “Okay!” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Canada is, no doubt, like other countries in that for all the people who are challenges to ones happiness, there are so many that are courteous, helpful, and just generally compassionate, understanding and make life more pleasant. I was lucky to meet such people so early in my time here. I met others (from U.K.) who were not so lucky and we just looking forward to going back to England.


  2. Nice! Sadly, I doubt something like that would happen today.
    Years ago, I worked in the office of a slaughterhouse for just over a fortnight. We needed the money, and the idea was for me to do two part time jobs, the partner promising to ‘help out’ running the home. That lasted just two days. I was exhausted but persevered, until I overheard that as the newbie, I would be expected to see the entire slaughter process from start to finish. I couldn’t face it, so quit, and didn’t get a single penny. I also got it in the neck from partner, not just for losing out on wages, but for being a wuss.

    Liked by 1 person

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