What was it like in that corporate world where I had a commitment to work?
After college, not taking a year off like all my other peers, since I already have experienced a year off during my college year, I jumped right in and went looking for a good job. Resumes sent out some with covering letters, were replied with enthusiasm by the HR managers and I did get invitations to go for job interviews. We, the new graduates thought it was going to be easy breezing through these interviews but to be honest it wasn’t that easy, more like a third degree kind of interview. They asked you all the questions and you have to be resourceful to give them an answer to whatever it is they ask you about. Like what are your strong and weak qualities. Easy to talk about the strong qualities but how do you talk about your weakness? Perplexing as it already was, they kept asking if you can handle the stresses in the job. Wish I could say that why don’t they hire me and find out but you can’t be bashful in an interview. You have to be respectful and courteous to get hired and not be a smart aleck like once I did. Sometimes the job calls for a Canadian experience and I was so arrogant to the job interviewer that I replied to him, how can I have a Canadian experience if you don’t give me one. Then of course I wasn’t hired because I knew how arrogantly my answer to that question was put together, so in my next interviews I avoided that topic altogether. I was more open to their suggestions; played along and did better job interviews. Did I get hired? Yes, after lots of tiring job searches and interviews and not playing as a smart aleck again.
The view of the Toronto Skyline, the city where I live on a bright sunny summer day.
My very first job was working as a Data Entry Clerk at a medium-sized insurance company. It was mostly accounting/clerical work so I went back to school and upgraded my office skills and computer data processing knowledge after which I started looking for a new job. Then I also had a good job at the famous International Hotel at the airport area and was an Administrative Assistant to one of the Hotel Directors who was also the Hotel Architect doing all the Project’s reports and acting also as a Personal Secretary in charge of travel arrangements and other important duties at the office environment in the hotel industry.
The CIL Bldg. at Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue in Toronto where I worked
I also worked as a Data Entry Operator/Encoder at a huge financial Data Centre owned and managed by one of the Big 6 Banks in Canada. From Data Entry I was promoted to Computer Operator after some training and workshops. We were encouraged to go back to school and they were part of our work training so the company paid for our tuition and school expenses, only if you pass the course.
The new building of the Engineering Company where I worked in Markham, Ontario
The best job I ever had was being a Project Assistant to the Head Project Manager of a huge Engineering Company that have Big projects the world over, like in Canada, US, UK, India, Asia and South America. And it also gave me a chance to travel, then see and inspect our finished projects with the officials of our company along with the engineers. Too bad that they were acquired by a UK Engineering company and after the acquisition, the recession of the 1990’s kicked in and the huge engineering firm run into big losses and all projects were abandoned and finally the firm went into bankruptcy and closed down. Then after unemployment and the recession was over, I got a new job working at a financial/mortgage department of the huge bank.
My last job at a banking institution was a good one, also the hours were nice and convenient. I only worked from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm on weekdays, with one hour lunch break and the pay was great. It was a contract job with the bank and lasted for a few months, then I was planning to renew my contract for another few months because the job I was assigned to had lots of promotion available. I was aiming at the right hand assistant of the big boss even if I know that there is already an Assistant Manager of the Department and she had her own right hand assistant so there’s a possibility I could get the position I wanted if I worked hard for it. No one was allowed at the Manager’s cubicle office for security reasons and nobody was allowed at any time to use the computer or laptop in her office.
The view of the Royal Bank Building at Financial Drive in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
One day all the available computers were occupied and the contract workers were only allowed to use computers that are free and available at the department. So one time when I went to work all PCs were occupied and I was told to wait for availability. When the Manager, the big boss heard this, she told the Asst. Manager that I can use her PC because I would be logging into my own account anyway so it was okay. I was given clearance to use the Manager’s PC while she was away on a meeting all day. Unusual circumstance but was very welcomed by me. From that time on I kinda warm up to the big boss and became friendly with her. Once I offered to buy my co-worker a cup of coffee and when she overheard that I was going on break and buying some coffee, she requested if I can get her a cup of tea. Sure, no problem I told her and she bought us coffee, too aside from the tea I went to get at the Coffee Shop for her which she paid for. Another time they needed a measurement of our new office cubicles on the 4th floor and we were going to transfer there from our 2nd floor office, the big boss asked me if I can do the assignment. Sure, why not I agreed with her. I must have mentioned to her that I used to work as a project assistant in an engineering company. Imagine if she hired me as her right hand assistant, an Executive Assistant, that would have been a dream job, one that I was looking forward to get into.
The facade of the Royal Bank Building at Financial Drive in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Then the next day someone was retiring at our department and the big boss assigned me to order the food and beverages, refreshments and get the lunchroom ready before the end of day so that the surprise retirement party would be held that evening after work hours and before everyone leaves. I was supposed to be doing computer data entry work but for some reason she was so busy and needed help to get things ready and there was nobody else available to get it done so I gladly pitched in. My dream job was coming along fine and I was getting more duties assisting the head of our department. I knew then that one of these days I will be prepared to ask her if I can be her right hand assistant at the financial department where I worked. Then I can turn my contract work into a full-time job sooner or later. My job commitments were done with lots of dedication and passion. And in summary, I had a successful short career. Except for my last occupation, I had to abandon my dream job in favor of an early retirement and all for a very good cause, a new priority in my life.
My next commitment in life.
More than two decades and a half later, I had to make a drastic decision and leave the corporate world, then forget about my dream job. Not that I wasn’t committed to my work anymore but that I had other more important commitments in life. My mother had a mild stroke and she needed a caregiver so badly. Since our family can’t afford a private nurse and we didn’t want our mother to move into a nursing home we decided to take good care of her at home and find her a caregiver. We can’t get one at such short notice, which we could have if there was enough time to find somebody to take care of her so I gave up my contractual job at the financial place of work and became a volunteer to be the family’s caregiver.
All of us were busy working different jobs and in the end I decided to quit and become our mother’s caregiver. None of our family members would want to quit their jobs of 20 or 30 yrs since they will be up for retirement soon. I have prepared for my retirement years ago with RRSP’s, personal savings and investments so that I can retire anytime I want to quit my job. And I was ready to go semi-retired whenever I had a reason to do so. I did quit my last job at a banking institution. It was a great job and the hours were convenient, also the pay was awesome but I had a new commitment coming in life which to me was more important and valuable.
Now that I am semi-retired, I have all the time in the world to take good care of our ailing mother and fulfill my life long dream as well, to be an artistic person any way I can imagine; like being an artist/painter, photographer, writer and poet. The time has come for me to make that commitment and along with my new commitment to take care of our mother who needed a caregiver. I had to give up living at my own condo/apt. which my other sister and I owned and moved back to the family house to be with our mother. I had my old room back and it was like old times, being home again and what a great feeling it was.
I had no regrets on my decision to do that and if I had to do it all over again, I probably would have done it the same way I did before and quit my job to take care of the person who took care of me when I was a kid growing up and giving me all the comforts in life. It was a wise decision, retiring way ahead of my retirement years was something that I had planned to be able to fulfill some of my own cherished dreams in life. I was ready, willing, and able to commit to this new way of life. I went semi-retired at first and see if I can still work part-time during my busy days ahead. I was a diligent caregiver and stayed at my old home to embark on my “New Journey”, taking good care of my mom and with all of my dreams in tow behind me. But when my mother had another stroke and had to stay at the nursing home since she was already wheelchair bound and our house was not equipped to handle that situation. Then I have to visit her everyday at the nursing home where she moved. When I get there she had already been ready and dressed up by the support workers and nurses, and then my other sister who works near the place comes by after her night shift work to feed her breakfast since she wasn’t capable to feed herself after the stroke. They feed her also if we can’t go there on time and call them to let them know but most of the time I get there early before lunch, stay until dinner to feed her and be with her all day to keep her company.
Then I decided to volunteer and help in the other aspects of the nursing home, entertaining the older generation and telling them stories (the other residents come by and listen) or just talking to them was very helpful to keep them connected to everyone and just be part of the community where they lived. I became their friend and was well received by all of the elderly who lived there including my mother. There were also other volunteers who help and earn volunteer hours (40) for their high school requirements in order to graduate.
I have chosen to be there with my mom and that was my main priority, all else didn’t matter much to me at that moment in time. I wanted to be with her, share the last few years and moments of her life. Then make her happy knowing that she is not alone and that I will be back tomorrow and the next tomorrow to be by her side everyday. It wasn’t an easy job but I enjoyed and savoured every moment of it and being with my mom was still fun since she never lost her sense of humour much of which I had inherited, I should say. She was funny even in her olden days, even with dementia she never forgot our good times together, our old songs and great memories of yesteryears. You see, people with dementia can’t remember what happened a few minutes ago or a few hours or days gone by but they retain their old memories of years ago. She even remembers her date of birth and where she was born and whatever happened 10, 20 or 30 years ago. She even remembers my name but can’t remember the name of her nurse or the helpers. Well, she can still speak our dialects, all 4 of them, also English and Filipino languages even with a bit of slur when she speaks. Her memory was still good, but she forgets a lot of things now so I keep on reminding her. She was really happy, always smiling unless she’s not feeling too well and enjoys looking at the family photo albums that I bring sometimes to show to her and her friends at the nursing home. Sometimes they have fire drills and I assist whatever way I can. Since I have some first-aid training before, I feel confident being with the elderly residents and ready to help in an emergency.
The Village of Erin Meadows Long Term Care Facility (Nursing Home) in Mississauga, Ontario.
Some afternoons, we just sit at the lounge area especially on a hot and humid summer day and stay there where we would talk and laugh, then watch the cars and traffic outside that we can see over the glass windows at the lounge. Once there were dark clouds hovering over their place and she was so frightened by the thunderstorm and heavy rains so I assured her that she’s safe. That I will be there and won’t leave her until the thunderstorm was over and that made her safe and at ease the rest of the evening. When it’s time for me to leave, she always wants to come home with me but I kept reassuring her that I will be back tomorrow and the next day I would be there as promised to be with her again.
I was well prepared at that point in time, with no worries where my next meal was coming from or whatever I have to do with enough money to pay for my mortgage, pay the bills and everything has been taken cared of by me beforehand. The condo/apt. was almost paid for and the interest went bottom slashing our monthly mortgage payments to half and the recession was the only culprit blocking my way. How do I beat a recession with no job prospect whatsoever? Well, I heard about the government action plan so I opened my own small business and took advantage of whatever the government was willing to offer to help their own citizens with the impending deep economic recession with rebates and 100% write offs on computers and ancillaries (printers, fax machines, softwares, etc) instead of the usual 50% write offs on IT equipments and ancillary depreciated yearly. You can get rebates 100% for all expenses buying computers for your small business operations.
I very well survived unscathed by the economic recession but did not escape the ravages of time. I lost my dear mom and she passed away peacefully at the retirement/nursing home. I have no job prospect except my small business and that was my only hope standing alive. I promised myself that I will make it through this recession unscathed again even if I had to sell some of my assets, stocks, bonds and properties which I never had to do later anyways. I still have my own condo/apt. that I can go back to and live there again. I inherited the family house with my other sister who helped my mom to buy and own it so I purposely gave up that inheritance in favor of our dear sister so that she can live there with her twin kids. All of us in the family have our own homes and properties so we did not need a part of that inheritance. Later after the funeral, I decided that it is time to go on full retirement, not semi-retired like I was and did not intend to go back to work for others anymore. I got my retirement worked out and also got the pensions that I deserved and now I am free to go about my future and live the rest of my life to the fullest. I can travel again if I wanted to and do whatever I have always dreamed of doing and living the easy life on my retirement years.
Now, I am painting again in watercolours only and having the time of my life. I am also writing a book. I did write a book of poems for my beloved mom and some great essays about her but I’m not even sure if I wanted to publish that. Maybe I will later in life when I feel the need to publish my writings and my work, paintings, poetry and photographs. I plan to have a solo exhibit of my paintings and my photographs someday. I also want to make my own new trinity art gallery, small business a huge success and live the dreams.
This is my life! Happy and retired. C’est ma vie! Bonne et retraités. Esta es mi vida! Feliz y jubilados. Questa è la mia vita! Felice e pensionati. Ito ang aking buhay! Maligaya at retiro na. Kini mao ang akong kinabuhi! Malipayon ug miretiro.
(Images Courtesy of http://lakbaypilipinas.ca/)