Thursday, June 19, 2008

Things You Don't Want To Hear As a Mock Job Interviewer (But That I Did . . .)

Me: What unit of the hospital do you prefer to work in?
Student 1: Surgical.
Me: Why?
S1: Because I like to see people's organs.
Me: Uhh . . . you what?
S1: I like to see the organs. It's very interesting.

So what position are you interested in at the hospital?
S2: This! (pointing to the line on her resume that says "Computer Programmer")
Me: You want to be a programmer?
S2: Yes, yes, yes!
Me: And you studied nursing?
S2: Yes!
Me: Exactly what are your career goals?
(much confusion . . . I explain this several times using different words)
S2: Oh, yes! I want to have a big shop.
Me: A shop?
S2: Yes! It will have many, many, many beautiful clothes!
Me: OK. Um, since you studied nursing, let me ask you what your idea of a good nurse is.
S2: If the patient is very poor, I will not take his money. I will treat him for free!
Me: Uh . . . great. We'll call you.

Me: What do you think is your greatest weakness?
S3: Sometimes, if I have a lot of work to do, and I think it's too hard for me, and I can't do it, I will get depressed.
Me: And how do you deal with that?
S3: Well, I eat a banana.
Me: A banana.
S3: Yes.
Me: And that works?
S3: Yes. It's very help me.

Me: So what kind of work experience do you have?
S4: I am . . . I work . . . I was . . . A-S-S-I-S-T-A-N-T. In shop.
Me: And why do you want to be a nurse?
S4: It is my . . . my . . . D-R-E-A-M.
Me: (smiling and nodding outwardly, weeping and gnashing teeth inwardly)

Dave (eating a banana)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Lessons from a Cricket

On Saturday afternoon, we had a miniature typhoon. It was one of those brief summer storms that build in the stifling air for four or five days in a row, and then explode in a quickly spent fit of rage. I was sitting in my room, chatting with Brian, one of the other teachers, and glanced outside when the rain began slamming against the walls and windows in sheets. It was an impressive display -- tiny whirlwinds scudding across the surface of the canal, trees bent double, farmhouses obscured by the downpour -- but I felt safe and warm inside, and so thought no more about it. Until I remembered my cricket.

Desiree, gripped with remorse for so cruelly imprisoning our pet, Qin Shi Huang, had urged me to release him. "He can't fly," I pointed out, "and what about all of the frogs that live near the fountain? He'll just get eaten if we let him go."

"Well, we can put him on the balcony," she suggested, brightening up. "That way, if he wants to go, he can, but it will be his choice." Indeed. I'm sure that Jean-Paul Sartre would have had a field day with a statement like that. We carried out her plan, however, and discovered that either by choice or incapacity, our little emperor never clambered over the threshold of the balcony to seek his fortune in the wide world. He seemed content to stroll around in circles, chirping the day away.

What would be his plight, however, in such a terrible storm? If he was knocked over by a gust of wind, he might not be able to right himself, and he would die. I went to the window and peered out, searching for my pet and not finding him. I was just on the point of going outside when I spotted him, huddling up under the air condition on the lee side of the balcony in the only dry spot still remaining. Ah, good, I thought to myself. He's OK.

But scarcely had I taken my seat and resumed my conversation when I remembered that little Qinny Qin Qin would most certainly not be OK. The balcony was equipped with a drain, which was located on the same side as the air conditioner. Well and good, except that the drain was prone to clogging. I had gone outside after previous storms to find the entire balcony under an inch of water. And if a human child can drown in two inches' worth, how much would it take to kill my cricket?

I bounded again to the window and saw that my worst fears were being realized -- the drain was already backing up, and Qin's six little legs were churning furiously, trying to keep him pressed up against the wall and away from the water. "Quick!" I shouted to Brian, "I need a cage -- a cup -- something!" My glance fell upon a decorative tin of tea that had been given to us by a student, and I scooped it up. Pulling the foil-wrapped packet of tea out of the box and throwing it on the desk, I open the balcony door and stepped out into the downpour. I could see a wave of water (a small wave, true, but it looked big enough compared to Qin Shi Huang) sloshing across the tiles toward the little insect, and crying out "Don't worry, cricket! I'll save you!" I thrust the open tea tin underneath the air conditioner. Maybe I was lucky, or maybe the cricket had an inkling of the seriousness of his situation, but he scrambled into the tin without any further urging, and I retreated inside, slamming the sliding door behind me.

I thought about that rescue operation later, after the storm had passed and my cricket was once again scrambling around on dry ground. It occured to me that I am very much like that cricket in many ways. I found myself in a helpless position. I had no more ability to protect myself than that poor flightless cricket did to escape the rising water. Not only that, but neither of us even realized the extent of the trouble we were in. But just when I needed help most, Someone far, far above me reached out of the storm and called, "Don't worry! I'll save you!" Just like Qin Shi Huang, I was rescued. But in my case, I was rescued from the domain of darkness, and placed, not on a dry balcony, but into the kingdom of a glorious Son.

If that's the only thing that I learn from having this cricket, he will have been worth his weight in gold.