November 2018 / Scarborough, Ontario, Canada

An Emigration Story:

What a University Dropout from Scarborough Can Do

By Andrew Scarry
 
In 1989 I held a plane ticket in my hand for a city in Ireland that I’d never been to. Just one ticket – one way. In June of this year, I held another plane ticket in my hand, well, three – for me, my wife, and daughter…one way. It’s cheaper than a return, after all!
So, what happened between plane tickets?
 
In humility, I wonder to myself to think I’ve done the reverse of what some of you dear readers may have dreamt of doing – working hard here all your life, then traveling the world in retirement. Instead, I have been blessed to have worked and travelled the world, and to settle here in Scarborough.
In that time the world has grown a lot smaller, and the world in Scarborough has grown a lot larger, large enough to represent the world I travelled in this one borough, it seems.
 
I took with me an absolute conviction that the world was full of opportunities, and I merely had to find them. This attitude served me well, and allowed me to get work wherever I went, and work that sent me wherever I went!
My first job was in Ireland, in a fiord! Ireland has only ONE, and I found it, and an opportunity to develop tendonitis feeding salmon for the month of December on the Atlantic coast of Ireland with nothing but five thousand miles of salty waves to stop the freezing winds from buffeting me atop the fish pens out on the waters.
 
How on earth did I get THAT job you ask?
 
Well, by talking to a man in a castle. In fact, it was just a stone gatehouse along a walled town called Athenry. I asked him if he had any work. And like most folks hearing a foreign accent and asking an impossible question, he said, “Go down the road and look for a man I know…”
 
Amazingly, I found the man he knew, and he said, “If you ever find yourself in Letterfrack, look up a woman I know…”. 
As opportunity would have it, I ended up there totally by chance, and said, “A man I met told me to look up a man you know who told me to look you up to ask if you had a job for me.”
 
She looked at me blankly for awhile, maybe you could describe her as stunned, and then she said, “You’ll stay in my B&B and I’ll ask after a job for you. Wait here.” But read all that with an incredibly thick Irish accent!
 
She walked away from me down the aisle of her grocery store and began to talk with a tall wild-haired man with thick glasses animatedly. They stopped talking and looked at me. I smiled. They looked at each other again and resumed their animation.
 
The animation stopped again and she walked back to me and said, “Right so…you go with him and he’ll take you with him and ask after a job for you.”
 
So I went with the tall, wild-haired man with the thick glasses, and we jumped in a truck and drove off along the wild glorious countryside of Ireland for what seemed like hours. The smell of peat fires rolled in my nostrils, like a herbaceous, smokeless campfire, a campfire that was everywhere but invisible. 
 
The damp dew from a distant downpour drilled into my downy jacket. The emerald countryside exhibited every hue and shade of green possible as we drove across an ever-changing landscape.
 
We found ourselves against the side of a mountain, such as they are in Ireland, with the land on one side of us and fresh air on the other side, and water at the bottom of the fresh air. We travelled that way for a good while until land met us on either side and we stopped before a chain-link fence, some buildings, and a golden Rhodesian Ridgeback hound.
 
My driver jumped out and talked with another man, more animation ensued. They glanced. I smiled. The hound gave me a strange look.
 
The tall man with the wild hair came back, opened the door of the truck, and said, “You’ll be working here. I’ll pick you up in the evening and take you back to the B&B. See you later.” I jumped down from the truck and looked around. The hound nipped at my shin. I looked at her and she walked in through the open gate of the chain-link fence.  I followed.
 
So, my man in the castle got me a job after all, in a country that was bleeding its young people from lack of work as fast as a Red Cross Blood Donor convention collects pints.  Proof of what conviction can do for you.
 
I’ll take a breathe and talk to you more later…
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