Finding a Job in Paris

So the second gig I got was teaching English to children. I had no idea what I was in for. As you all know, I’ve bee trying to get a job for weeks now, and I was terribly surprised at how easy it was to nab this. I had been given the run-around a few times before, and this was the first time something panned out.

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I waltzed into the ISA office to talk with Christelle about my bank situation (you all remember that). She told me about a family looking for a native English speaker to teach their kids English. Of course I was interested! She immediately called them and they said they wanted to meet me either that day, or the next day. I was ready to go ASAP, so I told her I wanted to meet them that night.

So, later that night I went back to the ISA office to prep for the impending conversation. I was extremely nervous and I wanted to make a good impression. Christelle and Nadine were helping me prepare and calming me down. Maybe they were afraid I would sweat all over the family and embarrass myself. I went upstairs and met the girls and their father, as well as their grandfather. The father is French and the grandparents are Chinese, so the girls know both Chinese and French, so I was impressed. Children in Paris don’t have school on Wednesdays, so it’s important for parents to find someone or something to occupy their children for the day. They decided to give me a try the following Wednesday (I had some trouble with the date. I kept saying “Friday” instead of Wednesday and I think the father might have been worried that some guy is going to teach his kids without knowing which day it is.). But the meeting went well and the pay was good: 15 Euro. Not bad at all.

The first day I taught the kids, I had them learn some colors, numbers and some objects. Their attentions spans were relatively short but I tried my best. The older girl, Lisa-Marie, is 11, and she is further along than her sister 7 year-old sister, Sophie-Marie. They like to speak French, so it’s hard to try to get them to relax and speak English. It wasn’t bad though. I told them the English versions of certain countries around the world. We played with cards, but I thought it was too soon to teach them how to gamble. The cards were a useful way to memorize numbers and colors (at least black and red).They had a ton of energy and it was fun to work with them. And it was nice to snag that 15 Euro at the end.

Today was my second go with the girls, this time for two hours instead of one. I wasn’t sure if they wanted me because I didn’t get a call from anyone telling me to come back the following week. I spoke to Christelle on Monday and she said the girls loved me and I needed to be there at 10 am again. The girls were great today and they remembered what I they learned! They remembered the colors and numbers! This time, I had them draw a city and I labeled everything in English. I told them the names of some stuff in their house, and they learned the members of a family (mother, father, sister, that weird guy who mom calls “daddy,” etc.). They invited me to stay for lunch. Now, the grandparents are from China and they hardly speak any French at all. So whenever they want to say something to me, they speak to Lisa-Marie in Chinese and she relays the message to me in French. They make a lot of green tea and I’ve had more green tea in these two days then I’ve had in all my life (maybe). They made potstickers. The grandmother was impressed that I wanted the chopsticks instead of the fork and spoon. When I tasted the first pot-sticker, I could feel the greasy pork slap my taste buds. I’ve been a vegetarian for over a year now, and this was the most meat I’ve had in a while. I felt I couldn’t refuse; I didn’t want to offend them. When she noticed that I ate all the pot-stickers she gave me, she dumped the rest of them on my plate. I ended up eating about 25 of them. The spaghetti that followed was less of a gastronomical challenge for me. They were so nice, and they didn’t have to be. They even gave me an umbrella because it was raining outside. Then it was time to leave and I was happy to do so with my 30 Euro in hand.

After class, I met up with some friends and we went to the Ile de la Cité for some really sweet ice cream. We walked around and admired the Christmas lights in the city. When it was time to leave, we said our goodbyes and the rest of us descended down into the métro. Now, I know you all remember why I don’t charge my NaviGo and I just buy the one-way tickets. Since I was with some friends, I didn’t want them to wait for me to buy a ticket. I tried to get behind my friend to go through the turnstile, but she went through it too fast, so I just jumped over. Bad idea.

There were some RATP agents waiting on the other side, and they called me over. I tried to think quickly; play the dumb American card. The man and the women asked me if I had a ticket. I said yeah and I gave her one of the old tickets in my pocket. She passed it through some handheld card reader but it wasn’t working. I asked, if it was working, and she said it was normal, because it was used earlier (or something like that). Then she ran through all the fees I had to pay. She said I had to give her 50 Euro and I said I didn’t have that. She wanted some form of payment, a credit card, a document stating where I live, but I had nothing. My friends were waiting, with shocked faces, and the said they had to go. Now I was all alone. I tried to work the American angle, but the lady wasn’t havin’ any of it. She said she had to call the police if I didn’t have pay right then. Crap. So I told her I had 30 Euro. She told me to show her and I did. She only charged me the 25 Euro fine and she didn’t seem too pleased, but she cut me a deal. She even gave me 5 Euro in change. I wasn’t expecting that! I stuck out my hand to say “thanks,” and “no hard feelings” and she reluctantly shook it. I was a little thankful to be on my way and but pissed that I had given all my hard-earned money to the “contrôle,” the state, big brother (otherwise known as the people just doing their jobs).

25 of my 30 Euros. That’s over 80% of today’s pay. I had plans for that money. Now it’s like I didn’t work at all. Well, tomorrow is Thanksgiving, so maybe that’ll be better than this métro fiasco. Five Euro. That’s a baguette. I can’t say that I won’t do it again though… because I like giving all my money away.

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