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Vanessa Martins
Getting Her First Job at the Grocery Store

Time 0:02:48


(Translated from French)
When I arrived at the supermarket, I saw a “cashiers wanted” sign and thought, “hmm, why not give it a shot, for my first job here,” because we had read a French woman’s blog saying how she also immigrated to Quebec and worked at a small store. She said it was really great to interact and get used to the Quebec accent.

I said, “OK, I ‘m going to do this.” It had been about 3 hours since we had gotten off the plane. I asked the cashier: “Do you need help?” (gesturing) She was filling my bag. “No, no, no, I can fill your bag without any help.” And her colleague said, “No, no, no, that’s not what she’s asking; she’s asking about the job. If you have work for her.” “Oh, that’s what you mean!” And I said, “Yes.” I think my Quebecois started on the wrong foot! Here, we say: “I’m looking for a job”; not “Do you need help?” “Oh, OK, we’ll speak to the...” (Oh my god...) “...the person in charge and we’ll see, ma’am...” “OK.” She called him over and I explained how I’d just arrived in Canada. I don’t think he quite understood I’d just, just arrived! “You’re looking for a job?” “That’s right, I’d really like to integrate into Quebec society, I’d like to get used to the Quebec accent, because as you can hear...” He said, “Yes, yes, yes, you have a French accent.” (laughs) How I would love to have a French accent... but he didn’t recognize my Brazilian accent. “Right, sort of... I’d like to change my accent if you can help, because I don’t fear challenges. I’ve never been a cashier, but I’ll manage.” He said: “OK, We’ll see... I’ll let you know in 3 days.” So he called to say “Yes,” he’d be happy to have me on staff.

So I had the little, uh... training. Oh boy... My heart was beating, because I knew nothing! First off, the accent being so different from a... Genevan accent. I knew none of the products because back then I didn’t eat the same things, and clients would ask me : “Eh, where is the Cheez Whiz?!” “...Cheez what?” The [inaudible]. What is he talking about? I didn’t know about Cheez Whiz! What’s that? The person looked at me wide-eyed like: Is she crazy? She’s kidding?... “Cheez Whiz! You don’t know Cheez Whiz?” “No sir, I’ve been in Canada for four days! I haven’t had the chance to learn about Cheez Whiz!” “Oh, well this is Cheez Whiz...”

Vanessa Martins was born in Ipatinga, Brazil in 1976. After receiving a diploma in speech therapy, Vanessa left Brazil to join her fiancé who was studying in Switzerland. There, Vanessa worked as a babysitter and Portuguese language teacher. The young couple knew that obtaining Swiss citizenship would be very hard, so they started researching immigration to other countries.

Vanessa and her husband came to Canada because they wanted to have a child and thought Canada was a country with strong family values. In October 2006, the young family settled in Montreal, Quebec and Vanessa quickly found work in a grocery store. Two months later, she began working in a bookstore. Her husband Clayton completed his doctorate and now works in a Montreal laboratory. At the time of the interview, Vanessa was taking a course in bookkeeping.

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