February 13, 2002
Business Umbrella, The Good, and Bad News
First, a shock of the day for those who know me, i.e. all of you, I am glued to the Winter Olympics. Every chance I get, I am watching downhill skiing, ice skating, hockey, bobsledding, and any other sport that is showing. It is not for the value of hearing English, since it is over voiced in Hungarian. As you have read in past chapters, you could only get me on a pair of skis if my life warranted it, but if I had to go down a ramp on them, you might as well just kill me. I would not do it. Not being a sports fan, I think freezing in the cold wet snow to slide down a mountain is close to insanity. It ranks right up there with golf as being a waste of valuable time and skydiving (NICK) with being too dangerous to consider. With this attitude, why am I watching these people risk life and limb to slip and glide downward at amazingly rapid rates? Because they can! They do it so gracefully and with the look of it being effortless, though I know that is hardly true. If my body is going to be racing faster than a speeding bullet, it had better be in a train or plane not on a couple of flimsy sticks.
When I was a child and the original Superman was on television, I used to fantasize about being Superman. While other mothers feared that they child would try to imitate him by jumping off the roof in an attempt to fly, and they did, my mother had no reason to be concerned. She knew that the second step on a ladder made me woozy, so there was no foreseeable danger of my getting up on anything to try defying gravity. Of course as a child, I made the Pilsbury Doughboy look undernourished. I had enough sense to know that comparing Superman to myself was like comparing a sparrow with an ostrich and ostriches cannot fly either.
I do love the skating too. Watching them individually or in teams is a lesson in grace, determination, agility, and years of hard work. The Canadian couple should have won over the Russians. I believe the roux is justified since I watched them both. There is a great deal of suspense in watching, watching to see if they get through their trial without error or mishap. When someone loses their balance or falls, my heart leaps for them. I can only imagine the concentration it must take to perform in front of millions worldwide while trying to perform your absolute best.
Aside from the Olympics, I watch soccer whenever it is on and I come across it. It is exciting to watch the moves and the agility of the players. Since it is without intended violence, it is easy to adapt to. These changes have made me continually go to a mirror to see “Who is this guy?” someone I do not recognize. It is funny how life changes you.
We had our appointment with Mona today at Business Umbrella. There is more grief and obstacles to overcome for the work permits and residency permits. It seems that our business has to apply to the unemployment office in our district for Hungarian employees for thirty days before we can assume the jobs ourselves. If they do not send any applicants for the jobs in the thirty days, we are home free and thirty more days later we will have our work permits. If they do send applicants, whether or not they meet our requirements for the positions (which I set pretty high and matched our own) and we reject them, our permit could be rejected and we will have to go through the whole process yet again. Mona said that if any applicant calls from the unemployment office, to call her immediately so she can fill out the form. She explained that some applicants might show up and ask to be rejected just so they can get their unemployment continued. That could also be a red flag for having our own applications rejected.
Our first step is to have our diplomas translated, which she is arranging for now. When we get our official tax certificate, she can send the forms to the unemployment office. In the meanwhile, we have to leave the country every ninety days (Myrtis and Randall, guess who is coming to visit) and make sure our passport is stamped on leaving and on entering.
Once we get over the hurdle of having Work Permits, we have to apply for Residency Permits. She called the Hungarian Embassy in Canada and they are accepting them through the mail. It takes sixty to ninety days to process them since they have to come back to Hungary to be issued, then back to the Hungarian Embassy in the country of the applicant. She is not sure if the Hungarian Embassy in the U.S. is accepting them via the mail, but said that could be checked out later. If they are, we will not need to come back to the States to start the process, but we will have to return to collect the Residency Permit. Up until January 1st, we would have been able to go to any Hungarian Embassy outside of Hungary such as Austria and complete this, but not any longer.
This is still better than what my friend Howard found out when I asked him to call the NYC consulate. The woman there told him we would have to apply in person and stay in the U.S. for sixty days before returning. That would surely be a financial disaster. It still is not in our financial best interest to fly back for a couple of days to collect the permits and return, but with our teaching and just getting started, we do not have the time or money to come and play around either. The bright side of this is that we can come with empty suitcases and return with filled ones. I already warned Ron though that I will not set foot into my father’s house with Michelle (or S.W. as I call her) there, so the task of going through our stuff there will be his alone. I will attack the other storage unit.
So I am now off for a nap, before I have to teach tonight, so I will sign off now so that I can get this in tonight’s e-mail. TTFN (Ta Ta For Now)!
There goes the nap the phone just rang. It was another school that has been trying to reach me. They asked me to come for an interview tomorrow. I told them that my mornings and evenings are filled, but I would consider during the day if they had something. She said they did not now, but are always getting new contracts. They want to have a supply of native speakers. I will speak to them with a copy of Ron’s file in my hands. Ron will start with a private student next week, getting her ready to pass an English exam for law.
Here is a story about the teacher making a big mistake. I went to teach my class tonight at a building I had only been to twice before. When I entered the elevator, I could not remember if this was the building where I had to go to the fourth or fifth floor, so I pressed four. When you get off of the elevator, there is a small hallway that goes to the left and right in front of you, but all of the offices or apartments are off of balconies beyond the hallway. I turned left, walked through the door to get the balcony and when I looked up to the fifth floor, it was apparent my destination was one flight up. The problem was that the door to the hallway locked behind me and I could not get back into the hallway to walk up the flight of stairs to the fifth floor. No matter what I tried, I could not work the lock, spring it open, or yank it without breaking something. Standing there is a panic, wondering what to do, I thought I could go to someone’s apartment and ask them to open the door, but how? I did not want to further humiliate myself moving my pantomime act onto balconies in front of strangers. My only hope was to wait for someone to come up on the elevator or the stairs. Within five minutes, I heard steps on the stairs. Help was on the way. I was saved. No one but some stranger and me would know what happened and I could save face. As the steps got closer and closer to the fourth floor, I was thrilled that they would pass the door window where I could signal for help. I could see the feet ascending through the grate of the elevator. It was a man. He was getting near. His face appeared. It was my oldest student. I waved to him for help and he waved back with acknowledgement. I asked him to open the door for me and he found it was locked on his side too. He rang someone’s apartment bell and I was buzzed out. As we climbed the last flight of stairs, I explained what I did and he laughed. When we reached the fifth floor balcony, the woman from the apartment we buzzed was looking around to see who buzzed her bell. He explained what I did and she laughed too. Then he shared it with his classmates, who also had a good laugh at my expense. Today’s lesson is: “Teachers are only human.”