Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Canada – CCCXV. Montreal (7 of 9)

My first priority was to get a job.  I could not afford to be too exigent for I did not possess skills that were in high demand.  Contrast that with Robert and two of his friends:  Robert and one of his friend were specialist in the electrical components and instrumentation of airplanes; the other friend was an aircraft mechanic.  Not surprisingly, therefore, they secured good jobs a week after their arrival.  As we shall see, I had to settle for second best.

How do you find a job in Montreal?  An immigration officer has been assigned to help me out with any problems I had including securing employment; friends of Victor kept their ear to the ground for any suitable job; I registered with the Montreal Jewish Community which among other things helped you find work; and I applied to employment agencies which provided you with permanent or temporary positions.

According to my cousins, all of the above efforts were fine, but ultimately of limited usefulness!  I was taking passive action; how then could I be proactive?

The Montreal Star (the daily English newspaper) published every day classified ads, one section related to employment offers; I was to peruse that section, circle job offers that I felt were adequate, and call the number given.  The sixties were a time when it was relatively easy to find work if you had what it took.  Thus, the first time I went through that exercise, I found many positions for which I was qualified.  I was ready to make my calls, but Adrienne stopped me dead in my tracks; planning and advice was needed before I approached prospective employers.

First I needed to prepare a resume.  A resume?  What on earth was that? The concept of a resume was explained to me; I was then provided with sample resumes; finally, I was asked to prepare my own resume.  I labored over it for hours only to have it criticized and asked to rewrite the whole thing.  Eventually a proper resume saw the light of day; typed; and numerous copies (using the primitive means available at the time) made.   Was I finished?  Not by a long shot.

Next Victor looked at the ads I had circled; there was a questioning look on his face throughout that process.  Eventually, for each position, he asked me why I thought I was qualified.  As it turned out, I was unqualified for most of them!  I previously mentioned that Egyptians suffer from overconfidence; I was no exception.  What I don’t know, I can learn I figured.  But as Victor explained to me, in Canada, employers expect you to deliver after a short period of training; you either really possess a particular skill or you don’t.

So here again my wings were clipped.  What now?

On any given day, there were at least two or three ads for a job I could handle; and, at any rate, there was only enough time to visit two places; Montreal is a large city, and travelling took time.  Thus, I did not need to apply anywhere if I did not fit the bill.

The next sessions were devoted to how I talk on the phone; how to conduct myself in an interview; how to address the problem of my limited English; and how to dress properly.

I had brought some clothing from Israel including a nice suit, but they were hopelessly out of fashion in Canada.  I didn’t have enough money to go on a shopping expedition, but it was not a hopeless situation.  I approached the immigration department for a loan; no loan was needed; they set a limit and handed me the money; I was to furnish them with the proper receipts, and, of course, return any unused funds.

A week went by before I was allowed to make calls, and go to interviews.  Even then, as I was leaving for my first interview, Adrienne stopped me and this short exchange took place:

“Where are you going?” she asked.

“To my job interview, of course.”

“In these clothes!”

I had put on the out of fashion clothing I had brought from Israel, and ignored the new clothes I had just purchased.  Why, I don’t know.  At any rate, I was asked to dress properly if I really wanted to make a good impression.  The lesson was learned, and thereafter I paid close attention to my appearance.

Throughout this job hunting period, two factors played in my favor.  First my cousins were not shy; they spoke their mind; they would have done me a disservice had they acted otherwise; what they did, they did it because they really cared.

The government was helpful; the ‘60s were prosperous times in Canada; and as yet, words like deficit and national debt were not part of our vocabulary.  If I approached immigration with a reasonable request, it was granted.  The example I had provided was not the only instance where they helped me financially or otherwise.

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