Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Go Moncton!

Il y a été un peu plus de deux mois depuis que j'ai commencé à travailler à Moncton.

It has been a little more than two months since I began working in Moncton.

In recent days, I've gotten a small flurry (a slurry?) of emails from friends asking how things are going so I must be remiss in reporting properly. A pox upon me!

The job itself continues to just go really well. I love the job, and I love the atmosphere of the workplace.

(Some of the brass wickets in the lobby of my office building, which used to be a post office. The picture doesn't do them justice. They were gleaming in the winter morning sunlight the day I took this picture.)

I don't love the commute. I do love that it will get much better and much more enjoyable as the seasons turn towards spring and summer. Right now I feel like I've been getting up in the dark, driving to work in the dark, leaving work in the dark, and driving home in the dark - in Moncton and in Fredericton - for Way Too Long. I mentioned to Husband that this was the first year I truly celebrated the winter solstice - because it means that, more and more, I am living and traveling in daylight hours.

(Caught the tail end of sunset as I headed out about two weeks ago.)

Current Moose Count: 0
Current Deer Count: 3 (One standing by the side of the road looking unambitious; two I watched cross all four lanes of a divided 2 x 2 lane highway in front of me.)

For much of the trip, I am protected by "moose fencing". I did an unsuccessful image search for a picture of this fencing; so I can't show you what it looks like, but it is fencing which runs along the side of the highway and which has one-way gates which stop the moose from running from the woods onto the highway; but which, should the moose somehow find his-or-herself on the highway, also offers one-way access back into the woods. It also incorporates underpasses which guide the moose and deer from one side of the highway to the other, with the highway fenced-in in-between, so they can still roam their natural territory. I bleeve (as Mojo would say) it was invented here in NB; and it's amazingly ingenious and will save thousands of lives. You still have to be alert; animals have been known to get through broken gates or damaged fencing; but it is still a great improvement.

I don't love trying to live in French with a cochlear implant. If I underestimated anything about this experiment, I underestimated how much my hearing disability was going to impact my ability to converse in my second language. Between the CI and the way people speak - carelessly - and the complexity of real-life workplace conversations, it's been much more challenging than I expected. I visited and stayed in Montréal and Québec City at length and got along quite well in French - but I didn't take into account that that was before going deaf and the CI.

I love my co-workers, who are funny and nice and forgive my terrible French and my knack for losing the thread of a conversation we're having and needing, helplessly, to revert to English. I love their humour and their enthusiasm for their work and their culture and their artistic talent, which is regularly on display in an Employee's Gallery, a hallway in the office complex which hosts photographs, paintings, anything at all contributed by employees. For the holidays, we were all asked to contribute to a group mural which began as a large piece of blank paper the length and breadth of the gallery wall - some contribution about "What the holidays mean to me"; someone began with a Christmas tree, and here is my rough contribution, for what is a Christmas tree without a cat dozing beneath it? The mural grew and grew to incorporate all sorts of found materials, from real, plugged-in Christmas lights festooning the Magic-Marker Christmas tree, to Hershey's kisses stuck all over the mural in a sort of social experiment by one of my co-workers ("Will people be able to resist eating the art?" she asked impishly. Amazingly, they did; until the day after Boxing Day, when she posted a note saying "Si vous voudrez, prenez-vous!" ("If you want [some], take [some]!")

I don't love - but I have grown to like - Moncton. The people are a lot warmer than I'd expected - I think in Freddie there's a bit of a stereotype that "Moncton People" are a bit standoffish to the rest of us. (It's part of that perennial three-city rivalry between Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton.) I've found that to be absolutely the opposite of reality. In Moncton, people are so warm and friendly and accommodating that my biggest problem is being allowed to practice my French.

So in my meandering way, there's an update to what's up with the new job and the commute and all that. I'm right smack-dab in the middle of a period of change and transition - believe it or not, other new opportunities may present themselves for consideration in the next little while. Maybe it was just my time. For the moment, I'm happy, still enjoying the novelty of the situation and that 'new-job smell' ;)

ronnie

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3 Comments:

Blogger Mike said...

Given that the one good thing about that terrible commute is that it's on a superhighway and not local roads, it's good you've got some moose fencing along the way.

Everyone in Western Maine, it seems, has a story about hitting a moose and they all come with dire warnings of what nearly happened, though, of course, people find all kinds of dark humor as they retell the adventure. The stories are funny, the incidents are not, and we get a few fatals each year.

Keep your brights on and your eyes open, darlin' because I hear as many stories of moose running into cars as vice-versa. They don't seem to be terribly intelligent or nimble.

(BTW, do Moncton francophones call a major highway an "autoroute" or is that strictly Quebecois terminology?)

9:59 a.m.  
Anonymous m.e. said...

hey...you just need to PRACTICE hearng in french...bbc languages (on bbc.com) has french & spanish lessons--free!--just sign up and click the links and listen...they talk MILES too fast (just like everyone else, it seems), but you'll get the hang of it. don't forget...CI hearing needs to be PRACTICED. the more you hear, the more you CAN hear. give it a go! and good luck. last year, didn't you post a picture with some caribou or moose or elk or something crossing a highway on their own ramp??

7:18 p.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

Mike, I haven't heard anyone call it the 'autoroute' but in typically chiaque fashion to the best of my memory everyone calls it "l'ighway" when discussing my commute with me. Is that pure chiaque that they'd use when talking to their Acadien friends or the chiaque they're using because I'm anglo? Qui sais???

Believe me, I've had my share of close moose encounters and know that they'll not only run right into the path of a moving vehicle, they'll run into the side of a moving vehicle, and they'll actually turn and charge vehicles that have stopped to let them pass (one reason it's suggested you turn your headlights off for a few minutes if you encounter one at night and the road is deserted enough to make it safe - they get mesmerized and infuriated by the lights and charge them). (The late great Canadian radio personality Peter Gzowski believed this was a 'rural myth' until it happened to him on a road trip to some remote corner of the country.)

m.e., it wasn't I who posted a picture of a moose... you must have other moosey friends! (Although Mike did post a picture of a moose's leg a while back on his Maine-based blog...)

7:28 p.m.  

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