(This is an outline for a speech at Stadi Talkers Toastmasters on 12.5.2014)
It’s the 12.5.1995.
The train takes off, leaving his mother in tears at the station, knowing he was never to return. The lad had just landed a job at a company known at the time as Helsinki Telephone Company, today known as Elisa. For months and months he had sent out applications and resumees, and finally he got lucky.
The traveller had got a flat in Malmi, Helsinki. The commuter train station was close by, and the trip from home to the workplace located downtown didn’t be much of a struggle.
The job was exciting; a lot was needed to learn. The cell phone was at the time mostly something only business people was using, but the time was changing. The market was changing, people were investing in the at the time rather expensive phones, and weren’t soon anything only for yuppies, but also for ordinary people.
A new word was seeking its way toward the common man. The word was Internet. This exciting new world was becoming more user friendly thru a new piece of software, Netscape, the first Internet browser. The start wasn’t easy, as those of you who were around at the time do remember. People didn’t always understanding what they were purchasing; the 50 markka Internet start up kit didn’t actually include a computer, for instance. And yes, you actually will need to connect to your mail server to check your email. And yes, you will need a phone line, and again yes, when you’re connected, the phone line will be busy.
A lot of things have changed since those days, oh boy have they changed.
Life in Helsinki was exciting as well. A lot of new places to discover; the city outside of the downtown area was rather unfamilar. The days off work were used to adventurous trips on different local buses, jumping randomly on buses or trams, and let kismet take care of the rest. Afterwards, as a part of the whole, there was some research required, involving the map from the phone book, to figure out where I had been that day.
One thing was difficult here in Helsinki. It was not easy to find friends. I didn’t know anybody apart from some distant relatives living not far away. At times, I felt quite lonesome. And then, there was the financial part of the whole: I had a student loan to take care of. My salary wasn’t that huge, I paid my rent from a sole income, and at times I struggled financially. Soon enough I realized I needed to find a second income.
I investigated some alternatives including a part time job at a grocery store and peddling magazine subscriptions over the phone.
I decided to give it a shot as a taxi driver. I had realized it may be a tricky trade, long hours, working on commission… but I had done something similar, being quite a lot of times a designated driver back in Kokkola. I got my cabbie license, and found a cab to drive, the owner lived a couple of blocks away from my place.
This trade showed a new and darker side of town. A side of excitement. The work took me to parts of the Helsinki metropolitan area where I had never been before, and have never been since. It was exciting, occationally scary. I took mothers-to-be to the Kätilöopisto maternity hospital, I drove disappointed turned-down lonely guys (and gals) home from the club, I drove senior citizens to visit their spouses since 50 years at the hospital. All sort of people. The small amount of money I received from these gigs was sufficient enough to make sense. Oh boy, there could be a million things to tell about these weekend nights… Let’s save that to some other time.
The salary from this taxi thing wasn’t great. To be honest, I wasn’t a very good driver, I didn’t learn the tricks of the trade. But I didn’t mind, this job kept me out of trouble, kept me occupied… and the trade was, and is, in its twisted way the most fun work I have ever done.
Something magic happened, I met this gal, we had fun, got engaged, married… and eventually separated. A venture ended in disappontment.
Jump a few years forward. I got my hands on a book; the title I can not remember. It is one of these self development books, or something intended for business people. In the book, the author wrote about, among other things, about the need to be able to communicate.
And here I am. Learning to communicate. Still learning. And every day in every way I’m getting better and better.
- leaving old home town — change to the better
- mother in tears — mourn after a loved one
- workplace and salary — independence
- learn the city — adventure
- new things to learn at work — challenge
- struggle — decissions