From working in a busy kitchen to becoming a personal assistant. Here is how it happened.
Since January 2012: I could not think about anything else other than quitting the job. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do it unless I had some other job offer. It would be too risky otherwise. Without a contract in Norway, I would have to pack and go back home in no time. The best alternative was to keep applying for other positions.
Throughout 2012 I had 2 interviews which could have given me a position within my field of studies (economics). No luck.
May 2013: I was interviewed by a man who suffers from a serious type of multiple sclerosis, together with his girlfriend. He could move his hands a little bit and had some control over his upper part of the body, but not much. Enough to stand still in some positions, not more than that. I had applied to be his personal assistant. And I succeeded.
As a personal assistant, you are supposed to help the person in need with everything. Besides the personal hygiene (helping them out when they need to go to the toilet, shower, etc.), you are supposed to cook for them, shop, clean the house, take care of their pets, fix the lamp that does not work anymore, etc. You are the legs and the arms that they are not able to move.
It’s always a bit special to work with a single person. It’s like having a partner. Sometimes your partner is not in the mood to talk. Sometimes you are the one who doesn’t feel like talking. Sometimes you laugh your ass off together. Sometimes you’ll get on each others’ nerves. There will be even times when your partner hurts you with words. And so will the person you are helping out.
Being a personal assistant was nevertheless a paradise compared to the hell kitchen.
July 2011: It was time to take the risk: ‘Now or never Hugo!’. Bye, bye hell kitchen! Hopefully, we will not meet again.
My new contract was signed based on 11 hours of work per week. I could always work extra, but only if needed. So I was working between 2-3 hours a day, several days a week. Besides the hassle of working only 2-3 hours a day, my salary was ridiculously low. All in all, the job hunt was not over.
October 2011: I am called into an interview with a recruitment agency. The very same position but special training would be required. Why? I would be taking care of a man in his 50’s who suffers from ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) and lives in a rehabilitation centre. 8 hours shifts and a good chance to get full-time after a month or so.
‘But first things first.’ said the interviewer. ‘You will get 3 days of training. After that, if you do not like the job, you are free to go. Otherwise, you will continue and as soon as I can, I will give you the full-time. And by the way: prepare yourself. You see many weird things in a rehabilitation centre.’.
‘Fair enough. I’ll take the chance.’ answered I immediately.
Honestly, I had no idea what I was about to get into.