Garage Sale Diaries 1: In-Person Version

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Image courtesy of: http://northernconnectionmag.com/

Rewind back to 24 years ago in Binakayan, Kawit, Cavite (Philippines):

I tried having a garage sale when I was 8 years old. I was suddenly obsessed with having a lot of cash, so I collected all my nice things and took a long, good look at them: a neon-green plastic jewelry box with its lock and key, a super-hero themed coin bank, a black and pink striped jumping rope (a boy from my class bought it for me so I could give it as a birthday gift to another girl, but I kept it anyway; he didn’t seem to mind when I told him) and my 60+ bead-shaped plastic “kisses” (a.k.a. aroma beads).

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I thought they would be irresistible to all my friends and in my mind, I was already projecting sales of up to 50 pesos!

Sad to say, the enterprise was not successful because when my first customers arrived asking how much things cost, I realized I couldn’t put any price on anything on display! The thought of my jumping rope being used by Beng-beng or my coin bank being filled with Dan-dan’s filthy coins (I meant that literally, that boy was not very hygienic) didn’t sit well with me. Quickly I changed my mind and gave up my dream of having 50 pesos for the day. But that was okay, I forgot all about it as soon as we ran out to play. I think we ended up climbing a guava tree that afternoon…

Fast forward to when I’m 32 years old, in Paris 12ème (France)

*Note: Garage sale is called vide grenier in French. This literally means “empty attic”.

As I carefully picked clothing too bulky to be brought back to Madrid, I remembered the exact moment I purchased each of them: the very first black coat I bought as “serious” office outfit, the white blazer I got for a wedding I couldn’t attend to because I got sick, the pencil cut skirt that was wearable during all the 4 seasons, the little black dress I purchased on sale for a New Year’s Eve party and the maroon dress I got “just because”.

Hard as it was for me to part with them, I saved myself from getting too emotional by offering them to my friends first. I didn’t mind selling them at a very low price- what mattered was that they were going to the hands of someone who would appreciate and take care of them as much as I did.

My husband criticized me at first because he considered the prices as a big joke. I said of course I could’ve sold the items at 5 times more expensive but my conscience wouldn’t allow it. Each item must be at least 5 years old, was purchased either on sale or in an outlet store and was very much used back then. I just took care of my clothes really well. (My secret? I brought them to the dry cleaners instead of washing and ironing them myself.)

Anyway, I sent a text message to my friend J (we’re both petite women, so I thought maybe she’d like to check the stuff out). She was thrilled and agreed to come to our house.

She came, brought Leo a gift for his 1st birthday and got me a box of chocolates. This garage sale started out pretty well, wouldn’t you agree?

So, after the customary “how are yous?”, “fine and yous?” , etc… she proceeded to try on the clothes. She loved almost all of them because she purchased 6 out of the 10 items I was selling. J was also very shocked at how low I priced each clothing. But I explained that they were really used clothes. They just don’t look it because I really paid attention not to wear them out.

She was so happy with her purchases, she asked me to go with her the next time she went clothes shopping! She even said that she has never dressed so elegantly for work. I was truly, very glad. That honestly made parting with my clothes much easier, seeing that my friend was so happy. She looked beautiful, of course. But what made her more beautiful was the look in her eyes when she saw herself in the mirror wearing my pre-loved stuff. It’s as if she couldn’t believe what she was seeing! And that, dear reader was the cherry on top.

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I wholeheartedly bade farewell to my precious clothes and sincerely wished my friend the same confidence and poise that they used to give me.

Why am I disclosing all this?

First of all because as obvious as it might sound, garage sales are truly a great way to rid oneself of things we don’t want or need anymore. Even if the sole purpose is just to de-clutter limited space (we can’t all have Kylie Jenner’s mansion now, can we?), this is a great way to do it.

Second of all, it is worth mentioning that people are big on acquiring second-hand items in France. When not buying, people wouldn’t hesitate to get usable furniture or decoration left on the street. You see, some really generous (or desperate) folks would leave their possessions on the pavement for the rest of us to freely pick up: baby strollers, cabinets, bedside tables, books, kitchen appliances… once or twice I even saw toilet bowls.

However, we’re talking about things that I really did love. So the “love” in “pre-loved” isn’t just a term. It really described how I felt about those clothes, explaining why I made sure they went to very good hands.

Truth be told, I wouldn’t have gone back to Madrid with any of them. Had my friend not purchased anything, I would’ve sold them online at a higher price. But I’m currently selling other things that way and the dynamics are totally different (more of this later). As I’ve said earlier, it seems I made the right choice because I disposed of them immediately and my friend was able to shop without the hassle of actually doing it the traditional way.

My husband told me that I might as well have handed the clothes for free, if I were going to sell them so cheaply. What he doesn’t understand is that there’s a reason why a “symbolic price” is called as such. The psychology of the person who acquires something differs when it is freely offered to them, compared to when they have to give something in exchange.

Another reason I’m sharing this is because garage sales are another fun way to bond- aside from sleep overs, dinners, movie nights, shopping trips or drinking sprees.

Several years ago, a friend also held a garage sale in her house. Her aim was to make more space in her closet, so she invited family members and some friends to take a look at her stuff (for some reason, I ended up not paying for anything I got). And it was there where I got the idea to hold a garage sale for friends.

I believe this is a good idea especially if you’re trying to sell anything with sentimental value because you wouldn’t want just anybody to go to your house and try or test them, would you? At least that was how I felt about the whole ordeal.

When it comes to your friends being your “clients”, you can easily slip in a few snacks, some gossip tidbits from your common circle, talk comfortably about anything that comes up and it’s even nice when they stay for a while longer even after the purchase.

Additionally, I would like to let people know how much joy the whole process gave me: from the day I had to text my friend, to the moment she came to our house (bearing gifts, too!) and finally upon seeing her so proud of herself for having acquired such nice items at a very low cost… I know I made my friend happy and at the same time, she knows she’s helping me a lot with our packing problems. It’s a win-win situation.

Lastly, when I compare this experience to my first intent of garage sale a quarter of a century ago I realize that the reason why it didn’t happen was because I really couldn’t make do without those bibelots. They may be junk to anybody else, but for me, the jewelry box was magical, the coin bank was cool, the skipping rope gave me super powers and the aroma beads multiplied themselves when flattened with a pencil… In short, they were irreplaceable objects back then.

This time around, I had to be practical and admit that clothes are expendable. To give you a clearer idea of my point: I would never sell any of the books or comic books I had here in Paris, may they be bought, salvaged from a park bench or originally brought from Madrid 3 years ago.

Tips

Before ending this entry, I would also like to share some tips I got from this personal experience namely regarding garage sale and pricing.

But before that, may I first suggest that you be very clear on why you’re having a garage sale. Is it to de-clutter your wardrobe? Perhaps you want to make space for new stuff? Or maybe just like me, you’re moving and doesn’t want to bother with packing bulky stuff like winter clothes. It is also possible that you simply wish to raise funds for something new to purchase!

This is a very important step because the reason you’re doing it will determine the rest of the things you’ll have to do to make the garage sale: the choice of items to sell, the pricing, the choice of how to hold the event, etc…

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In my case, I wanted to get rid of some of our things and at the same time earn a bit of money to pay for the boxes we have to send to our new house. But I also wanted the future customers to find real value on what they’ll buy from me. I want to be part of that group who does what’s in their hands to curb excessive commercialism. I would like to contribute to a more sustainable, less aggressive model of consuming in my own little way…

Having said that, below are some of the tips I promised earlier:

On garage sales

  • Gather all the objects you want to get rid of.
  • Separate them in groups according to: very good condition, good condition, slightly impaired and very impaired.
  • Donate the very impaired ones. People buying second hand items are most probably not first-timers and they would be pissed off if they discover they’d been outsmarted. Admittedly, many people sell very impaired objects. My husband once got a vacuum cleaner that never worked. But I would suggest you save yourself the trouble of potentially facing a non-content buyer.
  • Itemize the objects and write a brief description about them.

On pricing items in your garage sale

  • Search for the items you’re selling and find out how much they cost when brand new. From there, price your products according to their condition, how many times they have been used and how much do you think they are in demand.
  • Ask yourself whether you’d buy the same second-hand objects at the prices you just set. Be very honest with your answer. Also, ask people around you for their opinion.

After you’re all set, I believe you are now ready to announce your garage sale via SMS, group chatting devices, social media and of course- through word of mouth!

Tune in next week for “Garage Sale Diaries 2: Online Version”.

On Opportunities and Other Lessons from Wile E. Coyote

Opportunity (noun / op.por.tu.ni.ty / \ˌä-pər-ˈtü-nə-tē, -ˈtyü-\)

  • a favorable juncture of circumstances
  • a good chance for advancement or progress

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Image courtesy of: Wikipedia

A little flashback…

Wile E. Coyote- the most hard-headed, stubborn, and pathetic cartoon character that I knew of. I didn’t care much about him when I was in my pre-teen years. I was all about the Roadrunner who I considered the fastest, smartest and coolest looney toon (right after Bugs Bunny). 

Everything changed when I went to Spain. Oh, how the Spanish loved the Coyote! (Just as they love Tom more than Jerry, or the fact that they feel more sympathy for Elmer Fudd than for Daffy…). It took me a while to understand their perspective but it was only lately that I began to fully appreciate Coyote.

Exactly several weeks ago, I started to entertain different side projects and I reflected on how this character always saw the glass half-full. Only then did I really see him under a different light- the most determined, creative and hard-working animated creature I have ever seen.

Introduction

Finding a job is generally hard, or at least not easy. Ask anyone unemployed and most probably they’ll give you the same answer, “The company’s not hiring”, “The firm’s actually laying people off”, “I can’t renew my contract because the department has no budget”, et cetera… Added to that is the fact that more and more people are better educated, more highly trained and some of them are willing to settle becoming underpaid just to have a job.

All of these challenges multiply to 20 times more difficult in Paris, under normal circumstances. It should come as no surprise, considering it’s a big city. It houses many international companies who daily face 10,000 times as much qualified people fighting to work with them.

Given the economic crisis/slowdown (whichever makes you feel better), it becomes 100 times extra harder to even land on an interview with the recruiters!

Thus, the day it finally dawned to me that I’ll never get a job in Paris, I stopped all kinds of activities related to job hunting* such as: checking job sites for vacancies, tweaking my resumé, and writing alternative versions of my cover letter.

What I did instead was to meditate on my situation and watch some cartoons. After enjoying a several episodes of the Looney Toons, I started to think about Wile E. Coyote’s unrelenting attitude about catching the Roadrunner.

Following are the lessons I picked up.

Lesson number 1: Change your game plan.

Ironically, the first lesson is something the Coyote never applied in his own life. For years and years for as long as I can remember, he would always resort to dynamites, bombs, anvils or other heavy objects and booby traps to catch the Roadrunner. Not once did he ever think to change his strategy. (For instance, he could bribe corrupt traffic policemen to arrest the other for over-speeding and he can have the bird handed over to him in jail.)

In light of this mistrust towards change, we should not wonder why the famished canine never got roasted Roadrunner on his dinner table.

Back in the real world, I realized how all this time I had done nothing but follow the same routine: look for a job, apply for an interesting vacancy that suits my qualification, tweak my resumé, tweak my cover letter and wait for their response. I believe the only change I incorporated in the last two years is re-sending my application after 15 days of not hearing from the company. This is not so bad. In fact, this is the way people normally find livelihood. But in 730 days, all I got were 5 job interviews.

Immediately, I became aware that I actually have to do something more productive- something that would actually turn in better results. So instead of looking for jobs, I started to look for opportunities- to showcase the quality of my written work, to build contacts, to reconnect with friends and peers from the past, to learn about other fields similar to mine, to discover different fields that have nothing to do with my expertise, to see what others are doing and to be inspired with what pioneering people are developing around me.

Perhaps I could liken my opportunity-seeking efforts to that of sowing. One sows a seed, tends to it, nurtures it and does all that it takes to produce a bountiful harvest. In the same way, I have this blog where I could practice and improve my writing and researching skills. Likewise, my social media activity has granted me access to dynamic people who have very interesting stories to tell, and who have allowed me the privilege of interviewing them. Although, it must be said that none of these transpired in a day.

As it is, this leads us to the second lesson…

Lesson number 2: Do be patient.

Exercise patience in practice- not in speech, not in theory, not in your mind, not as a “what if”.

How many times have we seen the Coyote go after the Roadrunner again, and again, and again until we get tired and turn the TV off without being told to? And during those times when we would watch him go at it yet once again: how often would we see him assembling traps, studying blueprints, constructing weapons? Then after having prepared his equipment: how frequently would we catch him hiding behind a cactus, a boulder, fitting himself into the form of a telephone pole while waiting for his prey to pass by?

Just as the Coyote worked hard to ensure that his ACME materials would work and that the bird would sooner or later pass his way, so does the farmer. For he is certain that he will gain something from what was sown. He also knows that for him to be able to gain anything, he would need TIME to do its work.

Not all that I have sown bore the fruits I expected and there were instances when the seed even turned to be a bad one. Yet I had no way of knowing until it was time to know. I was in no position to rush anybody or anything. Waiting is as much part of any process as the more active tasks. The key is to learn how to wait.

Lesson number 2.1: Learn how to wait.

This is something I had to learn from my own experience because unfortunately, not all of my “targets” move as fast as the Roadrunner.

The best way I learned how to wait is to make sure there is nothing left pending on my to-do list. Why not take a look at yours?

After marking every item with a check, proceed to ask yourself these questions: When did you last visit your dentist? Have you talked to your grandparents lately? What about that coffee date you keep on postponing with your former office mate? It may seem absurd now, but in keeping yourself active you won’t notice whether time is flying fast or slow.

The second best way I spend my waiting time is observing my surroundings. With the internet, I can do this not only beyond my doorstep but also across national and continental borders. By doing this, who knows what other opportunities are waiting to be unlocked?

Lesson number 3: Every result is a valid result.

In this case, the word VALID is not the same as DESIRED. 

Notice how in scientific experiments, all types of results are noted down (if you did an Investigatory Project in high school maybe this will ring a bell). If there is enough occurrences of such outcome, it will be factored in drawing conclusions. Why is this? because we can always learn from the past, and there’s no better way of reviewing it than taking detailed notes.

Do you remember what the Coyote would do if the giant slingshot didn’t get him close enough to the Roadrunner? what about when the canon literally backfired on him? or that time when the rocket took him too far away? He would just keep on trying new equipment until he finds himself fallen in a ravine, crushed under a ton of boulders (or an anvil).

I never take any failure for granted. I write down everything I could describe, all that I could remember and I try to consider them the next time there is another opportunity to seize.

Once I started applying this principle, my motto has since become…

Lesson number 4: No stopping (No detenerse, in Spanish)

Mr Coyote never stopped. He just kept on running and chasing after the bird even if he already hit a wall.

Do you recall how he dealt with the situation after hitting a wall? Aside from smiling at the stars and birds that circled around his head, he would paint a door, a tunnel or any type of passageway that would allow him to cut across that roadblock. 

Lesson number 5: Create opportunities for yourself.

After more than half a year of searching for opportunities other than a 9am-6pm job, I realized I had to do something more and something better. By that time, I have surrounded myself with a fantastic community of entrepreneurs, professionals, freelancers and different types of passionate people who were already giving me various ideas.

From them I learned that just like the Coyote, it is possible to create a door or a path for us to follow. The end is not the end, unless we want it to be.

Frequently, we take the already downtrodden way because it is the safest option. But truly, risks are contained in any decision we make, including when we stay undecided. Having an employment contract is financially less riskier than not having one, that’s for sure. The thing is, everything entails a risk: even signing on a “permanent” job has the risk of being dismissed. If we didn’t want to be in danger of losing it, then we shouldn’t take the job in the first place- is that how we should view life? I’m not suggesting to jump into any venture with eyes closed. Perhaps the solution is not so much to avoid risks but rather learning how to manage them. As the Spanish would say, “Quién no arriesga, no gana” (Nothing risked, nothing gained).

Do you know what the good news is? The good news is that should you decide to build your own lane and find yourself facing a cul-de-sac, you may always go back to pursue the tried and tested trails.

If we truly wish to move forward then it wouldn’t matter whether we crawl or run; it matters that we keep going (thank you, Doctor Luther King).

People who create opportunities gift themselves the chance to achieve excellence.

This is not to say that the road you will construct will be a smooth one. It never was the case for any of my auspicious friends and peers. But by letting their own selves be the engineer, contractor, builder, supervisor and financier of their ambitions, they all took the necessary preparations to face different kinds of risks. Most importantly, they worked hard and consulted with experts on their fields so they could learn how to manage those risks, in case they turn into reality.

Once or twice an impulsive plunge was taken or a hasty decision was made, yes. Then there were times when certain events were so unexpected, they didn’t even account for as risk (like a terrorist attack). Still, they went on. Most of them might not know it: but in striving to succeed, they have achieved excellence. You might be wondering how I knew this. And just to be clear, I did not have a peek at their bank accounts nor did they tell me their net earnings per year.

The excellence I speak of is being materialized far beyond any of their material possessions. The excellence I have in mind is the kind that is reflected not only in the product of their hard work (ie: a product, a service, a deliverable or a client feedback)- it is also mirrored in their speech, their actions and their intentions. For these people, excellence ceased to be a goal and has become a way of life.

Conclusion

It’s been two months since I had the realization of my need to do something more and do something better, other than simply looking for job vacancies and applying for them. I did stop the job hunt for a while, especially because I needed to meditate on what my next move will be.

At the end of the day (or week) I still look for a paid employment. The difference this time is I have become more selective, and I never fail to mention my other endeavors in the applications.

Truth be told, the time I took off the routine helped a lot; taking another course of action proved productive for me. For example, the moments I spent working on my blog doing independent research and writing have given me a certain level of exposure. Thanks to that, I am able to gather a portfolio of work which includes: drafting, analyzing, researching and translating in all the languages I speak. Now I am also more open-minded towards applying for other types of jobs besides the usual ones.

At the same time, I’ve connected with many interesting people who are currently teaching me and sharing their experiences with me. Some of them are even allowing and inviting me to collaborate with their projects!

The sudden burst of activity has become a training ground for me to exercise patience and learn from mistakes. Besides, being in constant motion only convinced me not to stop advancing my personal venture. Above all, I believe that I am creating opportunities for myself and for others. Knowing this gives a more meaningful purpose to every task I perform- to develop something that would serve not only my interests, but that of others as well.

However, no amount of patience, learning, motion and creation could guarantee goals being reached. During my short time in this uncommon scheme, I learned that perfect planning does not always translate to the projected outcomes. Whenever this happens, one’s patience is tested even further but simultaneously, more lessons can be learned, other doors can be opened and the most surprising opportunities could arise.

Lastly, it is worth mentioning the fact that the Coyote still hasn’t got any wins to prove his worth as a role model. Even so, at least his patience and perseverance make him one very admirable villain.

 

 

*My particular, personal circumstances are allowing me the luxury to do this. I do not mean to be insensitive towards other people who are forced to being underemployed and underpaid to support their families. I am also in no way encouraging the unemployed to stop looking for job opportunities and simply “go ahead with what they feel like doing”.

-The End-

Sources:

  1. Merriam-Webster online dictionary, available at: https://www.merriam-webster.com/

Colorfulifesite responds: Why should I love my job?

The short answer:

Because if you do, your job will find a way to love you back.

The long(er) answer:

This would help you get through the day/s when you have to work for free. Getting up each morning to face an abhorred task is already a struggle. How much worse would it be if you had to leave bed, do the job and then realize you won’t get payment of any kind?

When I say “love”, it could of course range from the way you love the summer breeze to the devotion you have towards your grandmother. As far as jobs go, anything in between should be healthy for you. The only condition is that you have to love it enough so you won’t feel awful when you are required to finish a task outside your working hours and  without receiving any compensation.

And when I say “job”, I refer to the work itself. Anything outside of it such as colleagues, perks, learning experience, etc is not included. You really have to have a certain level of appreciation on what you are carrying out, as well as the chain of effects it has on your business or enterprise.

Finally, when I say “free” I meant a service rendered without charge. Receiving a well-meant “Thank you” doesn’t count.

My experience (which you are free to skip!):

The first time I worked without pay was (gasp!) here in France, while honoring one of the three contracts I signed (Meaning: no extra money nor extra leave was given to recover the hours of work surpassing what’s legally established).

The job was a part-time one where I signed a 3-day per week agreement. Many of my friends joked (?) that what it really meant was I would GET PAID for 3 days a week. Oh, such wise, prophetic words!

True enough, I started reading, replying and writing emails on the days I wasn’t supposed to; I scheduled Skype sessions outside my working hours and I would always make holidays coincide with my non-working days so I wouldn’t miss anything (the working days were specified in the contract, but I was requested to exercise flexibility).

Fairly speaking, I didn’t mind and I still don’t. At that time, I was truly attached to the project’s mission and I could honestly say that the job loved me back: I gained new skills, expanded my horizons and met impressive professionals along the way. Besides, I believed I was making an investment- in the sense that if I showed my bosses how diligent I am, maybe they’d extend my contract. Technically I was working for free, yet in reality I was learning, having fun, and I was convinced I “had to do it” thinking that my future would be somehow guaranteed. (My contract was not renewed. So, “Ha ha!” for me…)

The latest job where I worked for free was for a TV production company. They hired me as a translator from Tagalog to French for some interviews and other videos they shot. Due to my gullibility and irresponsibility, the company got away with paying me only 16 out of the 20 total hours I worked. I told the production staff though that, “…for the remaining 4 hours which you will not pay, I gladly give it to you as a gift. As for me, I shall consider it an act of charity towards your company. Good luck!”

The topic I had to work on was close to my heart; but not close enough for me to love the task. I accepted though, because I wanted to practice French and, I admit, I did it out of vanity. My name is supposed to appear on the credits! (I’m guessing if the job had been to write something- which I absolutely adore- I might have gotten less annoyed)

(Anyway, I found out that the company was only planning to pay me 12 hours. Thus, after having my vanity fed and my pride hurt, I thought, “Look, didn’t you want to practice French? Go after them!” Ooooooohhh! I loved asserting in French… I actually enjoyed writing those demanding emails, talking frankly to the production guy and the reporter to make them see my point shove in their faces how improper their behavior was.)

So the lesson I found/rediscovered here was: Whatever you do, put your heart into the task and if there’s no love at first sight at hand, then LEARN to cultivate fondness towards it.

Because not all summer days are sunny

A wasted youth,

a damaged heart

my time in trash

with the dreams I flushed

floating

in a septic tank

 

Some lines are overused

like the promises,

like the varnished truths.

There’s a loaf of bread

forgotten

growing molds.

 

The happy faces in pictures

will not leave the celluloid.

They refuse reality’s glare,

they shy away from your stare.

Content

to hide in a kilobyte.

 

Crippled.

Down.

I lose this round.

Quel dommage !

Un grand merci à mon amie Super A d’avoir édité et reédité le texte. Por si no ha quedado claro, MUCHAS GRACIAS SUPER A!

Nous habitons dans une société où la plupart de nos besoins peuvent être satisfaits en échange d’une compensation. Cela veut dire que nous payons bien pour les services qui nous sont rendus, bien pour les produits et marchandises qu’il nous faut. C’est avec ce principe que le système capitaliste fonctionne : nous respectons ce qui est appelé le “prix” de quelque chose que nous voulons acquérir et nous procédons au règlement de la facture.

D’un côté, l’acheteur donne le montant précis à celui qui propose ses articles échangeables. De l’autre côté, le vendeur garantit la qualité de l’objet pour lequel l’acheteur a payé. C’est grâce à la confiance mutuelle (supposée) que nos intérêts sont protégés. En général, c’est cette même confiance qui nous permet  d’être contents et d’aspirer à un environnement sans conflit.

La semaine du 13 juin, j’ai accepté une proposition de travailler en tant que traductrice Filipino.

Une de mes connaissances m’a renvoyé un courriel d’une société de production audiovisuelle parisienne qui cherchait un “traducteur de Tagalog pour accompagner notre réalisatrice lors de son dérushage* les 13 et 14 juin, avec éventuellement un ou deux jours de plus”.

J’ai pensé que cette expérience serait intéressante pour moi. Principalement, j’avais envie de tester et de pratiquer ma capacité de parler français. Je pensais aussi à développer mes compétences et à faire une petite contribution au monde de la culture. De plus, c’était une façon de rester “en contact” avec mon pays d’origine.

Je n’ai même pas demandé tout de suite combien et comment je serais payée. Je faisais confiance aux qualités qui sont souvent attachées aux Français – le professionnalisme et le respecte scrupuleux des formes (selon le dictionnaire en ligne de Larousse : le formalisme). Bien sûr que la compensation est importante. Mais je ne suis pas une traductrice professionnelle, donc je me suis dit que tant qu’il me reste un petit peu d’argent après les charges et les autres dépenses (les billets de transport, le repas et le paiement de babysitter), cela vaudrait le coup.

Après avoir bien réfléchi, j’ai décidé que j’étais intéressée. Pourtant, je garde mon enfant de 8 mois et j’ai dû demander certaines conditions par rapport aux heures que j’allais travailler. Puisque la société était d’accord avec mes conditions, j’ai pris l’engagement.

Le premier jour de travail, au moment où je suis arrivée au bureau, j’aurais dû me dire que quelque chose n’allait pas bien.

Je veux dire :

  1. La personne avec qui j’ai parlé ne se trouvait pas au bureau. Il n’a même pas laissé un message à ses collègues et personne dans l’équipe de production n’était au courant qu’une traductrice viendrait ce jour-là. On remarque déjà un manque de formalisme.
  2. La réalisatrice est arrivée 20 minutes en retard sans laisser un mot aux assistantes/secrétaires. J’ai attendu sans savoir à quelle heure on allait commencer. J’ai été déconcertée par cette faiblesse de professionnalisme lors du premier jour de travail.
  3. J’ai commencé à travailler sans avoir rien signé. Je reconnais que la lucidité chez moi n’abondait pas non plus.
  4. J’ai dû attendre jusqu’à l’après-midi pour que quelqu’un puisse m’expliquer comment je serais payée. Comment ai-je pu supporter telle carence de formalisme et de professionnalisme sans rien dire ? Comment ai-je été si bête ?

Il est important que j’explique ma conversation avec le collègue de mon contact (Monsieur P) par rapport à la compensation : tout d’abord, la société ne paie pas un salaire mais il paie pour un concept de droits d’auteur**. Puis, le montant serait 100€ par jour, pour 8 heures de travail. À ce moment-là, j’ai clarifié que je ne travaillerais que 5 heures par jour. Il m’a dit qu’ils allaient me payer 100€ à partir de la 5ème heure travaillée et, sinon, 50€ (la moitié). J’ai fait un calcul rapide et j’ai décidé que cela irait. Un total de 380€ à peu près serait raisonnable.

Pour me rassurer, j’ai exprimé mes doutes : j’ai dit que j’avais l’impression qu’ils allaient faire un prorata (ou la partie proportionnelle) des heures que j’allais déclarer effectivement. Mais, monsieur a insisté qu’ils allaient calculer à partir de l’heure 5 pour payer les 100€.

Alors, même sans aucun document qui prouvait ce qu’il venait de dire, j’étais d’accord. J’ai pensé toujours au professionnalisme et au formalisme vantés par les gens d’ici (cela fait plus de 2 ans que j’habite à Paris, et pour cette raison je me considère crédible quand je dis ce genre de choses). Je me suis mise dans la salle de dérushages et j’ai commencé à traduire avec la réalisatrice.

Le temps passé dans la salle a été vraiment fructueux.

J’ai appris certains détails sur le journalisme qui semblaient banaux mais qui sont vitaux pour pouvoir faire un bon reportage. J’ai aimé cela. Surtout, le sujet du reportage était proche à mes souvenirs de l’enfance. Donc cela va de soi : je me suis amusée. En outre, je me suis sentie utile et productive.

Malheureusement, je n’étais pas capable de traduire tous les vidéos à ce moment-là. Il y a eu des problèmes techniques et j’ai eu des difficultés au moment de comprendre ce que les sujets voulaient dire (j’ai donc parlé avec la réalisatrice : les sujets ne parlaient pas dans leur langue maternelle et donc, elles utilisaient souvent des termes équivalents à “machin”, “truc”, “chose”, “bidule”, etc…).  Mais nous avons  trouvé une solution : ils m’ont envoyé les vidéos et j’ai continué les traductions chez moi.

Donc, j’ai travaillé. Il faut dire que quand je donne ma parole, je rends. J’ai dédié beaucoup de temps à finir les traductions et cela m’a pris un total de 20 heures travaillées, réparties sur 3 jours.

La réalisatrice ne m’a donné aucun feedback mais je suis convaincue d’avoir fait un bon travail : j’ai mis les time codes tous les 30-40 secondes environ, j’ai marqué les time codes pour la version originale et pour la version traduite, j’ai révisé mon travail et j’ai réécouté certaines parties des vidéos pour être sûre d’avoir bien compris. Surtout, j’ai envoyé les livrables ponctuellement… J’en étais fière.

À vrai dire, tout s’était bien passé jusqu’au moment du paiement.

J’ai reçu un virement dans mon compte bancaire de la société de production, mais le montant n’était pas celui que j’avais prévu. En fait, c’était presque la moitié de ce que j’avais calculé !

Immédiatement, j’ai contacté Monsieur P. Je lui ai posé la question et en effet, il m’a confirmé qu’il a fait un calcul du paiement proportionnel aux heures que j’ai déclarées. J’ai expliqué que son collègue m’avait affirmé qu’ils allaient faire justement le contraire. J’ai insisté sur ce point car, honnêtement, je n’aurais pas accepté le travail proposé si j’allais dépenser plus que ce que j’allais gagner. Nous avons fini la conversation, étant d’accord de la reprendre 2 jours plus tard après avoir clarifié avec son directeur comment il fallait calculer le paiement.

Monsieur P m’a demandé aussi de justifier pour quoi j’avais mis 3 jours pour faire une traduction de vidéos dont la durée n’est que 30 minutes. À mon avis cette demande d’explication est pertinente, surtout s’il s’agit de savoir comment régler une prestation de service. À ce titre, j’ai expliqué que comme je ne suis pas une traductrice professionnelle, j’ai dû transcrire toutes les conversations avant de pouvoir les traduire.

Néanmoins, il a dit quelque chose qui m’a tellement étonné : il lui a semblé que 3 jours pour traduire une conversation de 30 minutes était excessif. Alors, j’ai répondu disant, i) Il est possible que la réalisatrice puisse avoir oublié qu’elle m’avait demandé de traduire un autre fichier (vidéo) dont la durée était plus d’une heure, et ii) Qu’en fait “je garde mon enfant de 8 mois et cela ne me vaut pas la peine de faire quelques minutes de plus en échange d’un petit peu plus de rémunération.”

Finalement, il a dit que la société de production me paierait une journée de plus pour la semaine du 13 juin. Pour les autres traductions, je serais rémunérée pour 2 jours de travail. Il restait encore une demi-journée de travail à régler. Il m’avait expliqué pourquoi ils n’allaient pas me le payer. En toute vérité, je ne me souviens plus de ce qu’il m’a dit,  il y avait beaucoup de bruit en background (mais j’ai cru  avoir entendu quelque chose du type “Comme ça on est tous contents”). Peut-être j’étais déjà fatiguée et je me suis rendue compte que je commençais à perdre mon temps …

La réalisatrice a répondu aussi la question et elle m’a écrit, “… 13h pour traduire 30 minutes ça n est juste pas le taux horaire. Normalement 30 minutes c est une demijournée maximum. Donc je suis sure qu’il y a des circonstances personnelles mais on n avait absolument pas anticipé que ça vous prendrai autant de temps de traduire juste 30 minutes!

Le budget sur ce film est extrêmement limité; notre camerawoman a été payée 15 jours pour 22 de travail donc vraiment je pense qu’ils ont fait le maximum de ce qu’ils pouvaient.” (Est-ce mon problème?)

Je leur ai remercié et j’ai dit que je leur offrais les 4 heures travaillées comme si j’avais fait une activité de bienfaisance.

Fin de l’histoire concernant mes employeurs.

Je suis consciente que la responsabilité finale de garantir mes intérêts reste sur moi.

Je ne tiens pas quelqu’un d’autre coupable de cette mauvaise expérience. J’aurais dû clarifier tout ce qui était lié à la rémunération avant d’avoir commencé à travailler. Je me suis trompée d’avoir fait trop de confiance. Eh bien ! lesson learned. Mais, c’est dommage.

C’est dommage parce que maintenant je me sens découragée de reprendre une proposition de traduction avec cette société de production.  En plus, j’ai la responsabilité de donner un préavis à tous ceux qui pensent à faire ce type de travail. Si vous êtes intéressés, laissez-moi un message et je vous donnerais plus de détails.

C’est dommage car le bon sens dicte de respecter le prix accordé pour une prestation de service bien rendue (j’ai parlé plusieurs fois avec eux et ils n’ont jamais été mécontents de mon travail). En fait, c’est exactement ce que je fais avec la babysitter de mon enfant. Je veux dire : puisque je suis contente de son travail, je lui paie respectant le prix que nous avons accordé dès le premier jour.

C’est dommage parce que j’ai pensé qu’une petite entreprise gérée par des jeunes professionnels récompenserait intègrement le travail acharné.

Surtout c’est dommage car je n’ai pas trop observé la pratique ni du professionnalisme, ni du formalisme. Et donc, j’ai pris conscience que ces qualités ne sont pas du tout liées à la nationalité sinon à la personne elle-même.

Fin de mon histoire.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Il me semble qu’au moins, dans le générique du reportage ils pourraient mettre mon nom et prénom avec de grosses lettres et, même en rouge. Comme ça :

Responsables de Traduction

Elena Gnou del Bosque

Kho Jones

KARESSA RAMOS AGUINOT

 

 

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Image courtesy of: http://inciclopedia.wikia.com

* Le dérushage est la première étape du montage d’un programme audiovisuel ; cela consiste à sélectionner les séquences à utiliser lors du montage, appelés rushes et à les transférer sur la plate-forme de montage (Wikipédia).

** En fait, au lieu d’un bulletin de paie je recevrais une note de droits d’auteur pour la présenter avec la déclaration de revenus l’année prochaine.

 

 

Things I’d Tell My Career Coach (if I had one)

One of my greater weaknesses is that I don’t know how to express my professional achievements. In some way, my cultural background might have had a little influence on this defect.

As I was growing up, me and my peers were discouraged to mention any praise towards ourselves and we were careful not to sound too boastful about our qualities; lest we wanted to be branded as airheaded kids. The expression in Tagalog literally translates as “Don’t carry your own bench” (“Huwag kang mabuhat ng sarili mong bangko”).

Apparently this saying is derived from Proverbs 27:2 which means “let not your own mouth praise you”. This passage was supposed to teach humility but I guess the elders of our yesteryears weren’t keen on differentiating between self-praise and self-esteem, both of which I believe are healthy practices, given that they are done in moderation.

If I listened to that kind of advice, then who will carry my own bench if not me? isn’t that why it is referred to as “my own”? Therefore, the responsibility clearly falls upon me. The bench of course, is a metaphor of one’s qualities and good traits and to carry it means to lift it higher from everyone else’s perspective so it could be seen and maybe even appreciated.

In my opinion, as long as truths are being told, there should be no harm in letting people know what a good-quality bench you own. Who knows? upon seeing it, others could be inspired to improve themselves and achieve the same things…

Old habits are hard to break but I believe that technique and practice could overcome any kind of quirk. I’m coming up with an actual list of achievements with which to further attract recruiters.

Another thing I’ve been bothered about is the dichotomy of Competence and Warmth. I mention this in relation to the job interviews I’ve recently had  (and did not pass- tee hee!) and which of the two aspects I tend to project more.

Ever since I read this article from the INSEAD Knowledge page, it has been months since it got me to thinking about my own “communicator profile”. Although I don’t believe in the strict definition of people’s personalities, the content of that post has helped me better understand my own self.

What has been an eye-opener is that during an experiment, the research team found out that listeners- or those on the receiving end of a communication- with a feeling of high power lean towards messages emphasizing competence and skills. While “low-power” audiences prefer those which projected warmth and established connection.

Looking back, the interviews I’ve had were for jobs which demanded high level of competence and efficiency. The interviewers were, consequently people who perceive themselves powerful. However, in all of them I gravitated towards projecting more warmth than competence.

As in the case of self-esteem, this could also be a product of the different “happy” and “warm” cultures I grew up in… which is a very safe and comfortable reaction, if you ask me. But realistically, there comes a point where the individual makes the choice of acting a certain way or another.

In my situation, it was my conscious decision to show competence and warmth at the same time. But being a naturally warm person, I wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up projecting more of the latter than the former.

The reason for all this is that I’ve learned to value good companionship over competence through the years. This is not to say I don’t value competence. Simply put, I find that competence is already measureable by various technical assessments. If the recruitment team wanted to test my knowledge on a subject matter, they would find ways to subtly or openly do so. The results would then speak for themselves.

On the contrary, good characteristic traits, one’s quality as a team player or an open attitude for learning…? 30 minutes is not enough to display all those! Such a feat would require a good grasp of some tough interpersonal skills. Personality tests can only reveal so much…

Before any misunderstanding takes place, let me clarify by saying that I do not consider myself able to demonstrate all those qualities in my past interviews. What I’m trying to say is right now, I’m working towards achieving it. Hence, another reason for the higher warmth-competence projection ratio. Given that the technical part of the jobs I apply for is already familiar to me, I have decided to allot more time and resources in bettering another set of abilities that could also enrich me as a person in the meantime.

I must be doing something wrong, though. Because I never got a call back from the interviewers.

Finally I would like to let you know that ever since Brexit, I’ve been itching to write to this Senior Researcher from one of my job interviews to tell her, “I told you so”. She asked me about my opinion on the EU and if I believed it would stand the various crises it is facing right now. I told her I didn’t think so.

Yes, I admit that I lacked eloquence at the moment but I would so terribly like to ask about her opinion on the EU now. Her nationality of course is a tell-tale sign that she’s pro-EU. She wasn’t convinced of my response as to why I wasn’t optimistic about it, yet when I returned the question her answer was even more vague. I was thinking: perhaps in the light of the recent events she could find better words to defend her stance.

Would you advise me against it, or should I follow my heart? (or instinct, or thirst for knowledge, or that part of me that wants to tell her “neener neener neener”)

 

Why do Classical Greek sculptures have small penises? (translated from Spanish)

This article caught my attention because I have always wondered about this myself. A few years ago, when my husband and I went to the Rodin Museum we asked ourselves the same question. At first I thought it was a matter of balancing the weight of the sculptures: if there’s too much weight in front, it could be difficult to compensate it by adding some kind of weight at the back… I was never more wrong!

This article was originally written by Anibal Clemente Cristóbal in his blog “Historia y Arqueología”.

I would like to extend my gratitude to Mr. Torres of Miter Arbórea for sharing this article in LinkedIn.

Why do Classical Greek sculptures have small penises?

The answer is more serious than it may appear. As explained by a professor and expert in Classical Antiquity, after forty years of research the mystery of the famous “Bronzes of Riace” also known as the “Warriors of Riace” is revealed.

In 1972, two Greek statues dating around 5th Century BC were found by scuba divers 300 meters from the Riace Coast (Calabria), in the south of Italy. During the inauguration of the Magna Grecia Museum (a splendid home for these works of art) presided by Prime Minister Mario Renzi, details from investigations about the two impressive bronze pieces were disclosed: it is discovered that they were created in Argo and Athens, inside the workshops of the best artists of the time. It is assumed that during the Roman era, a shipwreck caused them to fall into the sea while being transported to Rome (Romans were seduced by the beauty of the Classical Greek art, thus they tried to decorate their houses with these magnificent pieces). Fortunately, many marble replicas have been fabricated.

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Image courtesy of: http://arte.laguia2000.com

Greek bronze pieces- which were both grandiose and costly- numbered in the thousands during that time, but they have reached us mainly through marble replicas. Due to ignorance, (most) art made from bronze were melted. However those that were able to survive until our day and age such as the “Riace”, allow us to admire their (utmost) precision: the veins, the perfectly-defined curls, the eyelashes, the teeth that appear in between the lips, the scrotum behind which we could perceive the shape of testicles.

Given this symmetry and perfect harmony, it is striking that the two gigantic warriors each present a small penis. Why are the penises small? This question, asked by many as they admire the sculptures in the museum, is spontaneous: Why do Classical Greek statues have small penises? Surely, it is neither due to commonplace prudence nor due to fear of creating public embarrassment. The reasons for this were significant.

The Greeks’ ability in using sophisticated techniques and achieving perfection, especially in reproducing the human body, has fascinated the whole world. For instance, the perfection of the “Riace Bronzes” is astonishing, but their virility was considered, with much surprise, exceedingly small. The reason behind these limited dimensions is much more serious than it may seem: where statues are concerned, a large penis could mean little control over one’s impulses and the inability to exercise restraint. “In Ancient Greece, a small penis was a coveted aspect by the alpha male” (the male which the majority aspires to become because it is the dominant figure), explains Professor Andrew Lear to the Quartz web, an expert in Classical Antiquity who teaches in Harvard, Columbia and New York University.

“There is a distinction between the non-erected masculine genitalia of ideal men (such as heroes, gods and athletes) compared to the thick and erected penises of the satyrs (mythical creatures characterized by their carefree attitude, drunkenness and untamed lust) as well as with other types of men who are not regaded as ideal. The statues of very old and decrepit men were usually represented with big penises”, added Professor Lear. Undeniably, for Greeks, a big penis defined a vulgar, wild and barbaric man. (Back then) Beauty was something else. In fact, Professor Lear did not have to discover this; the famous playwright Aristophanes already wrote about it in “The Clouds”: “Healthy chest, wide shoulders, short tounge, strong buttocks and small member.”

Those were different times. The ideal Greek man was rational, intellectual and authoritative. This concept was inherited by the Romans: since Vetrubius (80 BC – 15 BC)- an architect, engineer and a Roman writer, the most famous architectural theorist of all times- the proportions from the Classical era have always been a real obsession for artists and sculptors of all periods… In that ideal governed by harmony, the small penis symbolized virtude, spiritual superiority, the allure of the hero. We can likewise appreciate this in Michaelangelo’s David, a great figure of the Italian Renaissance. This idea has evolved over time. Now, the penis’ size matters, something that according to Professor Lear could be because of the “expansion of pornography”. While a Greek man considered that beauty was elegance, which translated to behavior, the tendency today is to gravitate towards a false concept of beauty perhaps caused by the (general) acceptance of plastic surgery. Times have (surely) changed.

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For those who are wondering…

It is not merely out of caprice that I have translated this article. I admit, I thought about drawing a few laughs from people’s first impression. But the reason goes far beyond having a good time.

In women’s struggle for equity, fairness and higher regard from the society, it is easy to make light of what men are going through themselves. After all, they are considered as the “oppressors”, our “enemies”, aren’t they? Well, that is not always true! I know many women who tolerate and encourage macho attitude from men. Honestly, isn’t that far worse? Yes, most men oppress us, but there are times when we ourselves are also very tough, judgemental, biased and very demanding to our fellow women.

The truth is, I would like to question how it is to be masculine in the time of now. I wrote about being feminine during modern times in my last post, but have we ever stopped to wonder about the type pressure our male counterparts have to face to demonstrate their manhood? As far as gender equity goes, it is not surprising for them to be equally affected by the evolving definition of what is “masculine”.

There are so many male figures across continents and along human history who have been considered as the ideal alpha- he who embodies the very definition of masculinity. Images ranging from Greek heroes to football players are surely flashing through your mind. Every culture would also have their own understanding of manliness. For instance, did you know that in some countries wearing a flower behind the ear is considered as enhancing not only to the female beauty but also to the male attractiveness?

It may appear that men are not bothered by these issues, but isn’t nonchalance also expected from the homme? How would we know if they are not “allowed” to show sensitivity or express such concerns without being snickered at?

The wider object of this post is to create awareness that if we are really determined to build a society that is generous and unbiased, the first step really is to reach out for reconciliation, search for forgiveness… Perhaps in admitting our own shortcomings and forgiving ourselves first, we may find it easier to pardon those who do us wrong and make our pursuit of justice a journey less rough. Possibly this process of reconciliation could lead us towards finding a sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it- compassion, in short.

Where there is compassion, there is understanding. And where there is understanding, appreaciation of the other becomes a natural reaction. When that time comes, maybe people’s worth will be recognized essentially for their deeds and words (as reflection of their thoughts). By then, maybe there will be no need to make a big deal whenever a woman’s name is included among the “Top-Whatever-It-Is” list because it will be normal. Likewise, masculinity will not be a hindrance to a display of men’s emotions and they can freely be in touch with their feminine side without being targets of jokes and teasings.

At the end of the day, it is neither feminism nor male chauvinism which would bring “true” progress to our society. It would benefit us more to define what it is to be a humanist and for that definition to be put into practice.

Here’s to a brighter future!

 

Sources:

  1. “¿Por qué las clásicas esculturas griegas tienen el pene pequeño?”, available at: http://www.historiayarqueologia.com/profiles/blogs/por-que-las-clasicas-esculturas-griegas-tienen-el-pene-pequeno?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=linkedin
  2. Merriam-Webster online dictionary, available at: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/compassion