A couple of days ago (at least, as of this writing), I was asked to write a blog entry of sorts about “my life at Vibal” – those were my instructions, more-or-less verbatim. I responded with the proper and customary “Sure, sure. No problem,” but truth be told I hadn’t the foggiest idea what to say. Thanks in part to the advice of a friend-slash-unofficial-muse, I’ve decided that the best way to describe my stint thus far as a copy-editor at the Foundation is to situate it within my foray into adult life.
Not too long ago, I worked as an English tutor. Through Skype, I would call up the clients of a Japanese company (which shall remain unnamed, because I will not be kind in describing how I felt towards it), and thus attempt to help them improve their proficiency in the English language. I did this every weeknight and my daily routine was as follows: bum around practically all day, mostly watching TV and surfing the internet, catch an early dinner and then log in at seven, a mandatory hour before the first class of the night. I’d finish at midnight, wind down for another couple of hours by playing this and that computer game, wake up at noon the next day, then rinse and repeat. I would occasionally see the light of day and breathe fresh(ly polluted) air whenever my parents would send me on driving errands, including but not limited to going to the grocery store, putting gas in the car and bringing any and all family members to various destinations. My salary as part-time family driver? Free food and lodging. Come nighttime, the lessons themselves were no treat, either. Depending on what each individual student asked for, I would have to:
Read out loud from provided materials, cringing every few minutes because they were bespeckled with glaring errors;
Ask the student to read a short news article but ending up going through said article two or three times and having to cut each sentence into friendly, bite-sized portions; or
Facilitate a “free conversation,” in other words try to ask the student questions, receive naught but monosyllabic responses, run out of things to say in the first ten to fifteen minutes and then scramble frantically to make the conversation last the whole half hour.
Don’t get me wrong – I did have my favorite students with whom I’d have engaging conversations, but they were few and far between. Needless to say, I grew tired of it much quicker than I thought I would. But I kept at it for seven months, because hey, money is money and I no longer had the luxury of an allowance.
Then came the month of March and its promises of legendary fortune and glory. Well, okay, maybe not. I received an email saying that the Vibal Foundation was hiring, and so I sent them my resume. The rest, as they say, is history.
A lot definitely changed in the transition. My daily routine now consists of waking up earlier than I’d had to do in the last five years or so, take two jeepney rides and walk a total of about twenty minutes, sit at my computer for about nine hours or so (I eat my packed lunch at my desk, because I’m cheap like that) and then take the same route home. I’m still clearly not a morning person (as is quite obvious in my average punch-in time), but at least I am no longer a creature of the night who retires at two or three in the morning and sleeps till midday. From talking for a full four hours every night, I’ve also taken to barely using my vocal cords during office hours – not that I don’t like my officemates. They’re a nice bunch. I suppose I’ve just gotten tired of talking. Just an aside: I broke my vow of silence at the company outing when I picked up a guitar and started playing and singing. Half the Foundation was surprised I hadn’t shown my “hidden talent” earlier. Quite simply, I think breaking out in song in the middle of a busy day would be… disconcerting to say the least.
My job description has also become more straightforward: my role is to make written material clear, correct, concise and consistent. Simple, but not always easy. To be perfectly frank, I’ve come across articles (particularly for WikiPilipinas) by writers whose grammar seemed to be hardly any better than that of my Japanese students. I’d have been at wit’s end were it not for my previous training in the art of Zen. Fortunately, it’s gotten considerably better as of late.
So what exactly is the difference between my previous job and this one? Honestly I took this job partially to get away from my last one. But as I’ve come to realize, the Vibal Foundation, by the very nature of its being a foundation, has (dare I say it?) a noble direction towards an ambitious destination. For added gushiness, insert vision/mission here. Sure, the path has an unfortunate number of speed bumps, and the vehicle going down that path has its own kinks that need to be worked out, but lo and behold! I think I actually like my job. Why? For the simple reason that it is relevant.