During the spring of 1993—a long time ago now—I was a young academician teaching at a community college called South Plains College located in Lubbock, Texas. After a very weird series of events that, if depicted in painting form would resemble something done by Salvador Dali, I suddenly found myself unemployed and on the public dole. As the government checks rolled in, I pounded the pavement to find work. The only result of all that pounding is me developing a bad case of fallen arches.
I got desperate. I became a human testimonial of the wisdom of the proverb “Necessity is the mother of invention.” It was necessary for me to find work, and I was not finding it no matter how many doors I knocked on and CVs I handed out. On a day where I simple reeked of so badly of frustration that no amount of cologne splashing could ever hide such an odor, I happened, partly by happenstance and partly by thinking outside the box, to hit upon the idea of applying to join the United States Peace Corps. I’d always heard it said that becoming a Volunteer would be “the toughest job” I’d “ever love.” Hell, tough or otherwise, if I could do all the paperwork and somehow get accepted, I’d have work, albeit challenging.
To make a long story short, I did get in though it took me nearly a year to complete the arduous application process. The federal government, in all its infinite wisdom, decided to send me to Poland. It was the best choice they could have made for me. I’d always been intrigued by those countries that used to reside behind what we called “The Iron Curtain.” As a boy, I’d always wondered how a curtain could be made of iron and dreamed of peeking behind such an odd partition. Now was my chance. And the government was even going to pick up the plane fare to get me there. All I had to do upon arrival was pass what was called “Pre-Service Training.” If I managed to do that, I’d be sent off to do educational consulting work and teacher training…
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Thanks to those who liked my blog. It’s actually just a blurb from a much longer (book-length) piece I’m working on. The next few blogs will be stand-along segments from that larger piece. By the way, I really wish I had to publish more stuff here. I’ve been asked to contribute regularly to two other blogs and so I’m spread so outrageously thin. On top of all of that, I have a job and a real life too.