Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Story of Irish Hospitality.

The holidays were over, the family had left, and it was time to come to terms with the realization that procrastination could no longer be pardonable for thinking that all job applications would get lost in the employers' hectic holiday hustle and bustle. After weeks of writing to job openings I was over- and under-qualified for, and blindly writing to companies I would potentially like to work for, but offered no current job openings, I had made no progress. I had received no responses except for one that replied the position had been filled and the posting should have been taken down, and another one that was an automated reply stating that they received too many inquiries and a prospective email will not be replied to (if that even counts as a response.) The hopes that my furiously passionate cover letter and worldy CV might catch their attention enough to write back (I was desperate for anything) was all too soon becoming disheartening. Nobody in Dublin or London wanted to hire me. 
Usually my companion at my side, I had taken to leaving my phone in my bedroom; perhaps discouraged that neither employers nor friends had been calling me. However, with a quick glance at the phone one day, before I knew it, I had three interviews lined up. A phone interview with a company in London, an onsite interview in London, and another one in Dublin. I strategically organised it so I could go to the one in Dublin, catch a flight to London, have the interview there and be there if the phone interview promised an onsite second interview (it didn't) and then I could stay in London indefinitely for any other interviews that might come through after the masses of employers I wrote to finally got around to liking me - I was sure of it (they didn't). 
Everything was slowly coming together. As comfortable as I was in Donegal, hanging out with old friends and new flings, it was time to get a move on and head to the big city. Shoulder bag packed (I'm a light traveler) I headed to Dublin on the John McGinley and was set to meet up and stay with my friend who I had met in Perth, my first friend, and who was now back living in Dublin. I texted him when the bus was meant to arrive in. I texted him when the bus was late. I texted him as we neared the city. I texted him when I arrived. No response.  I called when I got off the bus. No answer. Optimistic me thought maybe he's working late. Maybe his phone died. I wandered around the city in the dark, quite comfortable with knowing the neighbourhoods well and thinking I still had a place to stay for the night and a friend to catch up with. Until it got unreasonabley late. I had headed towards the cobblestone streets of Temple Bar, knowing the bars would still be buzzing any time of the day or night, hoping to find a seat to rest my weary feet, tired from aimlessly wandering the city. I knew Temple Bar-bar (as I call it) always had live music and an enthusiastic crowd so I headed in there for some company and a pint. I sat down at a unheard-of free seat at the bar, utterly defeated. The bartender, a young blonde haired guy noticed my air of frustration as I collapsed into the bar stool with a heavy, discouraged sigh. I ordered a pint of Bulmers and asked if the bar had free wi fi. The brimming bar boasted a deafening multitude of international accents, but he stopped to pay attention to me. He listened as I explained my homeless situation and unresponsive friend, then offered his iPhone to me so I could check to see if my friend had contacted me via some form of social media, in case his textless and unresponsive phone had died. 
"You'll have to go outside the bar though because there's terrible reception in here," the bartender said as he handed his phone to me across the bar. I tentatively accepted it, thanking him as I put a coaster over my pint and walked out the door; a complete stranger leaving him with an unpaid pint and walking away with is iPhone. As I walked outside into the cool night air, I couldn't believe he had trusted me to walk out of his sight with his phone. I could believe that there was no online-word from my so-called friend.
Smiling as I walked back into the bar, I said, "You know I could have used that story before and ran off with your phone."
"I know, I thought about that the second you disappeared out the door, but for some reason, I trusted you. Any word from your friend?"
"Don't worry, something will work out, it'll be ok."
His words, although empty of action towards my situation, hinted at an unknown consolation. I nodded as I sipped my cider and wondered what the latest check in for a hostel was; it was nearly midnight. I fretfully mulled over my financial situation and how much a last minute room was going to set me back before my trip.
I kept checking my phone, as you do, even though it was right in front of me, one eye always on it, no lights had flashed on, no noise had beeped, but continued to check it...just in case. And as I did this, the bartender continued to keep me company whenever he could, reassuring me that I'd have somewhere to stay, and somehow managing to always keep my pint of Bulmers refilled and full without anyone noticing it, and without me paying a euro. 
As the lights to the bar came on at the end of the night and the bouncers tried to usher everyone out, the bartender told your one I was alright and by that time had invited me to stay on his couch. After his friendliness throughout the night and his trust of giving me his iPhone, along with the fact that I had no other option, I accepted the kind offer. His friends were coming back with a couple bottles and after a year of traveling around on my own in Australia, I figured this was no different than couch-surfing. The year abroad had taught me to trust myself and my instincts, and there was nothing foreboding about this situation. 
The next morning, as I left for my interview, he gave me a set of keys to come and go from his house as I pleased. Seriously? 
The generous, trusty Irish hospitality must have rubbed off some good luck as I was offered a job with the Dublin interview that day. It wouldn't be a career move, but a move to Dublin and out of Donegal. I almost didn't want to continue with the trip to London, and although it wasn't a complete waste of time as I was able to catch up with old friends and visit the beloved city again, it resulted in two more unresponsive friend experiences. For the second and third time all in that week, I had made plans to meet up with friends in situations where I was relying on them for an offered place to stay, and again, I was left quite literally in the dark, in absolute communicationless silence.  After a year of traveling around Australia where many days I woke up not knowing where I'd sleep that night, I had grown confident to know that something would always work out, but those three incidents that week, which were barely acknowledged let alone apologised for, nearly extinguished all hope or trust I had in people until I remembered the stranger who offered me the utmost friendly hospitality.

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