The inscrutable Malaysian Immigrations Officer at Kuala Lumpur International Airport caused me a moment’s consternation with his question until I realized that he was just making small talk whilst manically trying to stamp all bits of paper that I had placed on his otherwise spotless Formica top. I had just finished six weeks work in Kuantan, Malaysia and was eager to get home; he was just starting his 8hr shift and was bored already.
He started off by asking me where in Malaysia I had been working and for how long. He then asked me if all of that time had been spent onboard one vessel! His next question heralded real start of his small talk, “what sort of life is that” was his opening gambit. Initially thinking that he had suspicions over my activities for last six weeks, my heart started to pack its bags for rapid journey to my mouth. But then realizing that he was just asking a simple and friendly question I told my heart to stop hammering like an out of balance washing machine and to remain where it was.
It took me a while to register his question and by time I had thought up a reply he was massaging his aching elbow and viewing up his next customer with weighted suspicion.
But I most certainly did not forget his untimely question. In fact his query prompted me to write this article. And to rethink my whole way of life and more than anything else it has made me reconsider my future career path.
I have in all truthfulness been looking for an alternative job for nearly fifteen years. Yep, none of these spur of moment career searches that peter away to nothing when faced with an awesome pile of possibilities that would take an archivist a full year to locate elusive ‘needle in a haystack’ job that might or might not be one. I was not looking for a job via a casual glance through a Sunday newspaper whilst sitting out in garden with a freshly brewed cup of coffee and mulling over mowing lawn. My fifteen year search for employment has been ongoing, intricate and in-depth. My search for ideal future job, one that would take me away from sea and onto land has been energetic and involved, persuasive and of course very demanding upon my soul and time.
For fifteen years I have been looking for a shore-based and long term career anywhere in world. And for all of that time I have remained working at sea and onboard ships.
My Malaysian Immigration Officer through his well meaning and casually uttered question has made me realize that one of these fine days I will have to accept a job that has been offered to me. It sounds daft now that I write it down on paper, but in these endless years of bewailing fact that I want to leave sea but cannot because nobody will offer me a job, I have turned down many a wonderful offer.