Unrelated to my adventures with strays, Wellington was pretty cool. The city is remarkably small, for a capitol – only about 180K people. It feels cozy though, particularly in comparison to the larger, impersonal Auckland. It doesn’t have any of the small-town-ness that I might have expected, probably because they have several museums, an upcoming arts show, a massive botanical garden, and a cathedral. It might be little, but it certainly isn’t lacking in culture.

I had a very good time while I was there. I went out dancing – there’s a fun club scene, no cover charges, and it’s not like I have to buy a lot of their super expensive alcohol or anything – and wandered the city during the day.

I also met 3 different people I already knew. One, was a Canadian girl I met at the hostel in Auckland. It was fun to see her again – she’s kind of crazy and quirky, and under normal circumstances we probably wouldn’t be friends. But there’s a thing here, in NZ and presumably in any foreign place, where People From Home are sort of friends by default. Unless you make other friends. Also, People In Hostels are friends by default. The point is, I spent a while chatting with her, until she was going to go out and I was going to bed because I had my interview in the morning. It was nice to catch up again.

The other two people were girls from Oberlin who graduated with me in May. I knew one better than the other – we weren’t friends, precisely, but we would regularly bump into each other on the way too and from classes and we’d catch up before heading our separate ways. The other girl I knew mostly by face, just from being on campus. They’re actually going to be staying in Wellington for a few months, maybe, and they’re going to be joined by yet another Obie. Still, I spent a long time catching up with them one night, and went out dancing with them the next. It was really nice to see familiar faces.

It made me wish I’d given more thought to relocating to Wellington at the beginning of my time here. One of the ladies at the theatre suggested I try working for the ’08 Arts Festival, and I sort of ignored that because I thought I wanted to be in Auckland. I… might try dropping the festival a line. I don’t really have any ties in Auckland, and … Wellington was pretty awesome.

The interview went well. There’s a chance they’d invite me to go in late March, which I would be okay with. (I’d have to have some things sent to me, for winter. Coats and stuff. Mostly my stuff back home is College Wear anyway though, and I’d have to be Well Turned Out as a teacher, so I’d be taking a lot of what I have already in NZ.) Fortunately, though one of the companies that hires English teachers went belly-up this past September, the Interviewer claimed that our chances of being hired would not be negatively effected.

Being willing to go absolutely anywhere in Japan seems to be very good for my chances.

The interviewer was actually kind of funny, when he … warned us, about what to expect in Japan. Not about anything dangerous, or anything, just… there isn’t the same equal opportunity, in Japan. When it comes to teachers, they want white people, with North American accents, who look professional. Also, tattoos are a Big Deal. Which is to say, they are affiliated strictly with the Yakuza, the Japanese version of the Mafia. So even if you’re clearly not Japanese, and can’t speak Japanese at all, tattoos are An Issue. Gyms make people sign oaths, or something, not to get them – because it would bring down the tone of their establishment, or something – and if a teacher flashes one, kids get all excited, parents get very upset, and there are Meetings.

I’m not worried. My tattoo is not visible in professional attire. It’s just funny. (And I kind of have a kneejerk, rebellious reaction to get something REALLY HUGE AND ALWAYS VISIBLE. But that would be dumb, so I won’t.)

Stupidly, I’m not working. Which is to say, quitting your current job, only to discover that the job you thought you’d be starting has been delayed and has no definite new starting date, is really dumb. Still, I’m really glad I’m not selling theatre tickets door-to-door anymore.

It’s not that it wasn’t good money, or even that I felt bad selling them. I didn’t. If you watch movies anyway, they’re actually a really good deal. I like walking. I even liked talking to strangers – there were a few rude people, but mostly they were surprisingly friendly and interesting. I met one woman (and sold her a card) who makes a living by flying vintage aircraft in air shows. (That seems like a really cool job, though not one that I particularly want.)

Mostly, I didn’t like the hours. Oh, the walking got boring after a while – 7 hours of walking daily takes quite the toll. Even Birks stop being comfortable. But really, it was getting out of work so late. We’d finish up, and by the time I got home it would be 9:45 at the earliest, sometimes even 10:30. The busses stop running so frequently some time around 8:30, so I mostly walked home rather than wait for the next bus. And by the time I was home, I really wasn’t interested in cooking. For the first week, I was eating leftovers every night and it wasn’t so bad. After that, I’d end up eating whatever crap was easily available. For lunch, I never packed something (though I should have) and I’d end up eating something awful from wherever we stopped. Sort of like that guy in SuperSize Me (though to a significantly lesser degree) I just … felt bad, from the bad food. During the second week, before I went to Wellington, I was really running out of food and didn’t have time to go grocery shopping. I basically had rice, potatoes, and onions in my room, and .. that doesn’t make the most delicious of meal opportunities.

So I’m really glad not to be working there anymore.

I don’t think I mentioned it before, but some of the people I worked with? Were actually sort of scary. Which is to say, scarily charismatic. Not all of them. But the people higher up in the organization, who had worked their way to partial ownership from entry level salesperson. These guys… they were always on. Even when they were talking to their employees, they were selling. Selling the product, selling themselves, selling the company as a good place to work.

And it never felt like a lie. It was a good place to work, for other people, and it was a good product. And they were very capable. It was just .. weird.

I don’t really know how to explain it. But the day I went in for my interview? I got led into the back offices by the owner, Mick, and as we sat down he smiled and looked me straight in the eye, and I realized, instantly, that I liked him already. He seemed like an honest and trustworthy type.

And that was kind of creepy.

But also, really amazingly good salesmanship. Nobody came off as sleazy, nobody struck me as that kind of used car salesman type. They all seemed earnest, and nice, and driven.

I really hope none of them are serial killers. Because wow. Nobody would ever catch on.

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