Chapter Thirty-Two

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The next four years of school were incredibly challenging. Taking four classes per semester and two courses in the summer proved to be too much for me. I was burnt out. There wasn't enough time in the day to take on that kind of course load, especially when I was working thirty hours per week at the National Group Bank call centre.  

I had never lasted so long at a job before this one. I had learned the hard way that the nail that sticks out gets hammered first. So, instead of trying to rearrange the entire business model of the company I worked for, I took Ashley's advice - I kept my mouth shut and did what was asked of me. It seemed strange to me that a company was not interested in hearing about ideas from their employees, especially if those ideas would be beneficial to them. After all, a good idea is a good idea regardless of where it comes from. I vowed if I ever have my own company, I would be sure to foster a culture where even the guy sweeping the floor can submit his idea. 

I struggled to pay my bills, but working at the bank helped out a lot. Maybe that was why I stuck around so long. I made more money working part-time than I did working full-time at the retail shops and restaurants I worked for in the past.  

I worked nights, weekends, and picked up the odd overtime shift here and there. I was able to make enough to cover all my expenses, including paying back Darrell's debt. I still had not collected a cent from him. I gave up searching for him when it was obvious he did not want to be found. I heard from a mutual friend he had left the country. I wouldn't expect anything less from a little rodent like Darrell to scurry off into some far corner of the world to avoid his responsibilities.  

My schedule was packed. Every minute of every day was assigned towards doing something. I didn't know the meaning of rest, or having a day off. During the week I had a routine - wake up at 6:00 a.m., run for thirty minutes, then workout for forty-five minutes. After that, I would have a protein shake, a large breakfast, shower, and then go to school. Some mornings I had no choice but to skip my workout routine. It was the only expendable thing in my day. Ironically, it was working out that allowed my body to keep up this pace. Even then, I was always exhausted. Any remaining time I had would be spent with Ashley. 

Even getting to school was exhausting. I had to walk fifteen minutes to the Skytrain station, take the Skytrain three stops, and then get on the sea bus. The sea bus ride was thirty minutes across the water to North Vancouver. Once I got off the sea bus, I would get on another bus, ride another thirty minutes to the Phibbs Exchange bus terminal, where I transferred one more time to a bus that would take me the rest of the way to school. I did this same process in reverse to go back home. The moment I would get home, I had to quickly eat lunch, then get ready for work. I would work all night, come home, and make something to eat. It would be around midnight by the time I was done. Then, I would study until two or three in the morning. Some nights, I was just too tired to study, so I would go to bed and study on the way to school.  

The bus rides were miserable too. It would be raining most mornings, so I would stand in the rain until the bus came, then try to fight my way on an already packed bus. I would have to squish in there with a hundred other dripping-wet students who were often sick. Being coughed on, sneezed on, and farted on was unavoidable.  

If I were lucky enough to get on the early bus, I would have to stand the whole way. This was not ideal, but it was the only bus that would get me to class on time. Most days, the early bus was too full to board, so I had to wait for a backup bus to arrive. On these days, I would end up standing in the rain for an extra fifteen minutes. Taking the second bus did not get me to school on time, but at least I could get a seat and catch up on some reading. That was one big advantage for me. That time was just too valuable to waste sitting there staring out the window for two hours each day. Besides, staring out the window was often discouraging.  

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