Overqualified: no longer poetry but noise


To: Human Resources, Spherion
Re: Temporary Bilingual Administrator

Paula,

I was thrilled to read that your company was seeking temporary bilingual administrators, and I am applying for the job. I've included my resume, and I know that once you've taken a look you will be greatly impressed. But first, let me tell you a little about myself.

I am an Acadian, with strong emotional ties to the French language. But I am not a native speaker. On her deathbed, my great grandmother elicited a promise from me. It was this promise that led me to pursue bilingualism. I took classes, five nights a week. I threw myself into my studies, and suddenly I found that I could hold reasonable conversations in both French and English.

I was suddenly bilingual.

By this time I was studying toward my Masters in Business Administration, at the top of every class. When I learned of the chance, I decided to study abroad, finishing my master's at a French university where I could hone my new skill. I believed that my life was starting to find its track.

In reality, my life was beginning to slip off the rails entirely.

On my second day in France, I was struck by an automobile. It was only a Vespa, and the doctors insisted that I wasn't seriously injured, but after the accident I started to notice gaps in my ability to speak French. The French language I had begun to love was turning back into a hodgepodge of unintelligible sounds. It was no longer poetry in my ears, but noise.

My sentences became simpler and simpler. My vocabulary began to narrow. And so I threw myself into the study of the language again, but it was no use. If I was studying the tenses, my ability to remember the vocabulary would all but vanish. If I were studying vocabulary, my ability to conjugate verbs would falter. It seemed impossible, but I have never been a quitter.

I found that there is a window of time between when I learn the language rules and when I forget them. If I study all weekend, I can function as a bilingual for all of Monday and well into Tuesday morning. Sometimes into Wednesday, if I spend my lunch hours reviewing. But then it is gone again.

This temporary bilingualism has made it impossible for me to find traditional bilingual work, as most jobs require the ability to speak the language all week long, not just on Mondays. It has been a curse to me, but I have never considered breaking my promise to my great grandmother. I hope that you are my chance. Your organization is looking for a temporary bilingual administrator, and so must have work that is specially suited to my abilities.

Every weekend I put myself through an intensive course in French, learning in days what it often takes years to learn. I am constantly modifying my material, finding faster, more efficient ways to learn the governing rules of the language. This organizational skill applies itself directly to administration tasks, and you won't find a more dedicated and driven worker. What would you do if you had to meet with a Japanese business man, but had no speakers? I could learn the language in as short a time as five days, and I could be your liaison. I can learn any language I set my mind to, and quickly. I am fiercely loyal. If I found a company that would look past my disability to what I have to offer, I would work my fingers to the bone. I hope that company is you. I really do.

Yours,

Joseph Comeau.