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Monday, April 21, 2008

language skills

Went to an employment office today, a specialist one for foreigners down near Leidseplein. This is a good thing as I am exceptionally foreign. I went through my skill set with a girl that looked about sixteen. She was friendly. With two fingers she typed in everything I said. I think she was new. I named a whole bunch of stuff. I said, I like people, I’m good with people. I said, give me a room full of people and I’ll talk to them, I’ll talk to all of them. And I can row, I said, I used to be a rower. She said, that’s a sport. I said, in certain circumstances it’s a skill, a valued skill. She nodded – friendly girl, very friendly – and she said, global warming? And I had to give it to her, I hadn’t thought of that one. Clever. H&M head to toe, but clever girl, and friendly too. Woodwork, I also said. Like furniture? No, balsa wood, you know the really light stuff - I used to make all kinds of structures, mini rigs, rockets and stuff like that. She meant language skills and computers skills, of course – way too friendly this girl. I thought, you want languages, I’ll give you languages: one, two, three, four (that makes me a polyglot, you know that) Serbo-what? she said. Croatian, I told her and I gave her a sample, completely vowel-less and deeply Cyrillic. I think she was impressed. She made a phone call and she kept saying enthusiaste jonguh, zeer enthusiaste jonguh. It was nice of her, but I've never liked that word, enthusiastic, and she wouldn’t have used it if she’d known what it makes me think of: gymnastic, every time. So when she offered me a job as assistant-something-or-other, in my mind I had one of those muscly guys with big crotches caught in the cross-bars. It took me a second, but I focused and I accepted. and there you have it, again gainfully employed. I tell you, I never ceased to amaze myself.