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 – CCCXVI. Montreal (8 of 9)

Bleury Street became my North Star if I had an interview downtown.  At one end it was crossed by Park Avenue and at the other by Dorchester Boulevard; just before Dorchester was Ste. Catherine Street.

Ste. Catherine Street West was the heart of downtown Montreal:  there you had all the big department stores, fancy boutiques, movie theaters, and many restaurants. In other words, Ste. Catherine was the street where things were happening, and not only on weekends.  The East side was without doubt the poor relative.  All the glitter vanished when you crossed Bleury from west to east.  Yes, there were stores, restaurants and movie houses.  The restaurants did not tax your pocketbook, but the food may or may not be well received by your stomach!  The movies shown were the kind where you would not send your child to see, even if he or she was over 18!  As you proceeded further and further east, the street became seedier and seedier.

Not all potential employers were downtown; there was an industrial area which included many companies; and here, Côte de Liesse was used for orientation purposes.

What proved particularly helpful was the excellent bus service Montreal enjoyed at that time.  Before I even left the house, I called a specific number and gave my destination and from where I was leaving; they would then tell me what bus or buses to take.  This was a call center long before the concept was invented.

In short, getting to my interviews was the easy part.  Familiarizing myself with what employers required was another matter.  After all those years this is what I remember.

At the heart of Place Ville Marie is an impressive tower; I had a few interviews there, two that I remember follow.

There were two jobs in this corporation:  one in accounting, and one as a messenger boy!  By the time I arrived, the accounting clerk position had been filled; would I be interested in the mail room one?  I would not be there for long, a suitable position was sure to open up for the company was in full expansion.  For me, this was a non-starter, and my answer was:  “No, thank you.”  It proved to be a mistake.  This was one of my early interviews; many other employers required Canadian experience and hesitated to hire a new immigrant.  The job I eventually accepted made the office boy position look good!

I no longer remember the post offered by that brokerage firm; what I do remember was that the interview was quite short.  My knowledge of securities in those days was quite limited:  I had heard of bonds but assumed that only governments issued them!  Stocks were securities traded on the stock market; exactly what they were though, I did not know!

At this organization, the interviewer was very helpful even though I did not have the required qualifications.  First, he told me that the reference letter I obtained in Israel from IAI was largely useless, indeed it worked against me; he then went on to explain why.  What he said made perfect sense, and that letter was buried in a drawer, never to see the light of day again!  Second, he gave me a few tips related to what I should or shouldn’t say in the course of an interview.  I thanked him profusely, and followed his recommendations.

This small company on Côte de Liesse needed a pricing clerk.  I was to price estimates by reference to a price bible (really various manuals and catalogues); as well, the “bible” needed to be kept up to date.  Finally, this particular company didn’t sell or manufacture anything; they performed this service for other parties.  The interviewer stressed that they needed an individual who paid close attention to details; the survival of this company depended on delivering reliable estimates.  The interview was long and we were eventually joined by another person; at the end, I was told that they were impressed but needed to interview more candidates before making the hiring decision.  I never heard from them again!

While I never got the next position, it proved a confidence booster.  The accountant for this establishment needed an assistant.  This was an extensive interview; he left no stone unturned.  It didn’t matter to him that I knew nothing about accounting; he was willing to train me.  Eventually, he left the office to consult with his superior; he was gone for a long time; when he came back, he looked quite dejected.  He really wanted to hire me, alas, the owner had reservations.

This foundry was looking for a foreman with a high school education.  They were willing to train.  I assumed that as the foreman, I would be sitting in a nice office far away from the factory floor.  The manager was quite surprised to see me, nevertheless, he asked me to follow him.  He took me downstairs in a place that was hot, noisy, and dirty; tall, burly men were laboring in this inferno.  I remember asking if I was expected to work there; the response was affirmative for after all I was the foreman.  I advised him that this wasn’t for me; no doubt, he wasn’t taken by surprise!  What threw me off was their requirement for a high school education; for me this meant office work, not a laborer in a hellhole.  I should have figured out that the foreman had to be with his workers, but I didn’t.  When I reported on my day to my relatives, the foundry was left out!  Indeed, this is the first time I mention this misadventure.

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