“Remember to wear closed shoes during the interview!
These were the words that echoed in my mind like a broken record as I prepared myself for my four-hour trip to a job interview in Ortigas. After so many bold attempts to apply for a job overseas, I finally landed the opportunity to attend an actual examination/interview session with one of the employers. Luck was at my back when I found out that I qualified the initial screening after I submitted by curriculum vitae to the agency at 2 a.m. on the day of the deadline.
There I was, wearing my printed brown blouse and my cream slacks as I fidgeted in my seat at a 4 a.m. bus trip. I wore my flat bronze doll shoes to make a better impression than my usual plastic Ipanema sandals (my universal footwear). I clutched my bag, periodically skimming through its contents to check if I missed anything. Yep, everything was there.
At 7 a.m. I arrived at EDSA. The bus stopped in front of the Robinson’s Galeria, where the terminal for provincial buses was located. Confident of facing the big day ahead of me, with all the hospital info memorized to leave a good impression to the employers, I stepped out into the polluted roads of EDSA when I felt a strange feeling in my toes. When I looked down, there it was – my left shoe was smiling at me, LITERALLY.
As I hurriedly crossed the pedestrian lane, I could almost swear that even the Lady of EDSA was stifling a giggle. My desperation led me to go on a quick trip to a Mini Stop branch to hunt for a super glue to fix my shoe in a jiffy. I was an instant star on the store that day. When can you get to see a girl dressed for an interview, complete with make-up and all, struggling to glue her shoes in the middle of her meal?
After a few minutes of figuring out how to lessen the disfigured impression from my shoe, I finally found myself walking again in the busy sidewalks of EDSA. It seemed to be a good idea at that time – to tame my wits and take my mind off the exam to be administered later that morning as well as to cut back on taxi fare. I had just walked two blocks when I watched in horror as my right toe peep through my shoe!
And as if fate was enjoying himself at my misfortune, he placed an overpass ahead of me to cross near Megamall to get to Edsa Shangri-La (the venue for the exam/interview). I was on the verge of crying as I dragged my foot on the dusty pavement, careful enough not to make any sudden movements that could make things worse.
I reached the venue in one piece. The door man was courteous enough to greet me as I entered, dragging my right foot along with the now more disfigured shoe. As I finally got to the stairs to make my way to the garden ballroom conference hall (yes, there were more stairs!), my shoe was ready to swallow anything on its path. I was relieved to have finally sat near the table, digging through my bag for the excess super glue. And instantly, I was a celebrity again – the strange girl in a wrestling match with a gobbling shoe.
When I finished, they distributed the test papers and questionnaires. And there I was, from managing shoe disasters to recalling how many nephrons were there in a normal kidney. The administrators said that only the people who would be able to pass the exam would have the chance to proceed to the interview. I was determined to bag the spot. And after a few hours of waiting for the result, I found out that I qualified for the interview.
I bargained for a spot for that day’s interview since I cannot afford to return to Manila again. I decided then to just sit quietly on the lobby to prevent any mishaps with my beloved shoes. They were intact alright, but they also don’t look like footwear that says “I belong to the next person who conquers the world!” to the foreign panel. Rather, it was more like “take a pity on me, hire her to buy me a replacement!”
And then, my name was called. I wore the biggest smile that I could manage in the middle of my nervousness just to take their attention from my foot. And as if God heard my prayers, I saw that I was going to sit in a chair surrounded by the panel in a long rectangular table. Finally some bit of luck! I never remembered a time that I appreciated panel interviews except for this one.
I waited as they fire me with questions. It was all a blur really. I remember discussing complications and interventions. But mostly it was all “what else?” coming from the strict-looking Arabic assistant nursing director conducting the interview. And after that breath-taking moment of overactive sweat glands, suicidal axons, and dried oral mucosa, the interview was over.
With a big day behind me, I walked hurriedly towards the exit of Edsa Shangri-La, dragging my grinning shoes – excited of going home to end the day. Whoosh! It was like one month’s supply of rain poured over Ortigas at that moment. There was no way I could walk towards the city bus terminal to get to my ride home. Relief washed over me as the doorman from the hotel hailed a taxi for me – until I saw my taxi meter veer towards P200 due to the traffic build up in EDSA. But nothing was going to ruin my mood. I have a nice feeling about the interview.
Four hours later, I managed to ride jeepney towards the entrance of our subdivision. My shoes literally snapped open. I have to slide my shoes in the wet pavement to get to the side walk. Every bump and crack in the side walk made me want to burst into tears. The long day was not yet over. No tricycle was in sight at 11:30 p.m. After ten minutes of bargaining with God, my ride home stopped in front of me, with a sleep-deprived looking man in its driver seat. But at that moment, he was my knight in shining armor.
The following day, I knew May 31 had passed. I received my text notification that I passed my interview and was bound to Abu Dhabi in a few months. With every great disaster, a window of opportunity opens. Now, I’m excited for the next time would happens.
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