22.4.15

One More Try



It all began when, in 1989, an American truck driver dumped me near the Mexican border.

And there I was, trying to figure out which way the wind blew. I had about a thousand dollars in cash, my rucksack, a German army surplus sleeping bag, and one pair of shoes. But they were good.  

And I decided to go and have a look - the rest is history.

The first Mexican I met was a surly Mexican border guard. I had gotten off the train to stretch my legs, and he barked at me: "What's your profession?"

I was an unskilled laborer at the time, but I thought that if I tell him that, he might take me for an illegal immigrant who wanted to work the fields. So I told him I was a baker.

Wind forward two years.

By now I speak Spanish and have worked for several language schools giving German and English classes in Mexico-City. And I have decided to go 'big-time', to set up my own school.

I went to a tailor and had myself a couple of suits made - and my shoes were always polished. The day my company was incorporated somebody asked my by coincidence what I was doing. I told him that I was the General Director of a language school. He didn't need to know that I was the only director, the accountant, message boy and the sole teacher. Why, in my head I had it all figured out!

I started to visit the human resources departments of Mexican and multinational companies, presenting our program for teaching their staff that one indispensable skill - that second language. Since I didn't have any money, I traveled Mexico-City in its public transport system, squeezing myself into the subway and doubling myself up so that I could fit into their mini-buses.

After working the streets for about a year, and nothing really happening (yes, a couple of companies hired us, but the volume was really nothing to write home about) I was getting exhausted. However, I was undaunted.

It was a Friday afternoon, around 6:00, and I was actually on my way home. I was perched with other commuters into a small public transport vehicle, and it drove past an insurance company.

I said to myself "One more effort for today", and got off. I didn't know at the time that this particular insurance company had recently been bought by the American company Aetna.

I paid a visit to the human resources department and left my business card.

To make a long story short, they hired us to teach all their staff, and I had to start hiring teachers immediately.

What's more, the wife of the person in charge of training was in charge of training department in a major Mexican bank. I paid her a visit, too.

Within a couple of month my school exploded. I had to constantly hire and train new language teachers and had by then a full-time administrative staff. 

And I  had my own car.

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