Monday, May 02, 2005

vivi takes a big step

Yesterday, Steph felt well enough to go to the bar next door, but it was too hot for coffee, so we had cool drinks instead: a coke for Steph and a diabolo fraise for me. We sat under the Rapido monitor (we won 10 euros, woo!) and listened to the cacophony of patrons around us betting on horses. Then Steph dropped a bomb:

"I think it's time for you to start looking for work."

Click "Tell me more" to continue...

Alright, here's the thing. It's not that I don't want to work. I have ants in my pants to get out of the house more. The thing is, I don't think I'm ready. My French is abysmal, and I can barely follow a conversation. When someone does speak to me, more often than not, I freeze up and all the French I know flies away.

He continued: "Here's what you should do this week: You should go to the ANPE (unemployment office) and register. All you have to do it go and ask for information. You don't have to look for a job right away. Plus you will get discounts on bus passes and the library and museums. But you need to do this alone."

I sat in stony silence. I know he's right. It's time for me to be more proactive and stop hiding away in the apartment. I've got to get the courage to interact with people more.

Steph doesn't let me sink too low. "What's wrong?"

"I'm scared."


"I don't think my French is good enough."

"Only your boss can decide that. And think of all the things we can do if you get a job. We can save enough money to go to the states this year. We can go visit more places. You can buy more shoes (well he's got me there)."

So I did it.

This morning, I marched right over to the ANPE, which is right next to the local Intermarche, going over phrases that I thought might come in handy. When it was my turn to talk to the secretary, my heart was in my mouth. The conversation went something like this (and I feel I should say that for the part of the secretary, I am certainly paraphrasing and writing what I think she said. Heh.):

"Hello, I'd like to take some information for registering. I think it's obvious that my French isn't so great, so please excuse me..."

"Oh, that's ok. What is your nationality?"


"But you have the authority to work here?"

"Yes, I have my titre de sejour..."

*Blank stare* (probably from my crap pronunciation)

"But you do have authorization, yes?"

"Oh yes!" I hurriedly pulled out my passport with my titre de sejour glued inside, which says "autorise son titulaire a travailler" or "authorises this person to work".

I think I offended her a little. "Oh, yes yes, I didn't need to see that, I just wanted to be clear if you were authorized..." She produced a card with a free number on it. "So, you must call this number, and they will send a dossier to your home, and you will make an appointment to come back to speak with someone."

I looked down at the card and studied it for a moment, and then I understood. This was all I needed! "Well, thank you very much!"

I fairly skipped out of the office. I picked up a few things at Intermarche, and decided to reward myself with a chocolate bar with cherries and a can of coke. This is huge, people! I just took another huge step.

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