Welcome to the Red Onion: The Journal of a Second Try Student. You may be asking yourself, “Why is the website called the Red Onion?” Does the author have a fixation with bad breath? Does he appreciate the subtle flavour a red onion provides any fine dish? Actually, it has nothing to do with the vegetable… It has something to do with the Red Onion Restaurant (2028 W. 41st Vancouver, BC). Allow me to explain.
I am not a university graduate. Despite all the efforts of my parents to get me to finish something (a diploma, certificate, degree – whatever) I have never walked across the stage with a cap and gown with some old guy at the podium saying my name as he handed me my diploma. I’m 28, married to a beautiful and loving wife with a two year old son. I’m in tech support, but without any sort of credential, I have no hope of being being promoted here at work.
Although I spent four years at the University of British Columbia as a chemical Engineering student, I never really went anywhere with it. Low grades and the odd failure were new experiences to this honours high school student. Due to personal reasons and other priorities in my life, I eventually left the program with nothing to show for all my hard work, limited as it was.
During those days at UBC, I happened upon The Red Onion Restaurant. This place serves two things – Fries and Burgers. Not just ordinary burgers, but the ones that are hand made, prepared fresh, complete with red onions and cheddar tucked inside the patty- their “signature artistic creation” as Kaga of Iron Chef would say. It was one of the first restaurants that I visited during my sojourn in CEME and CHML at UBC. I will never forget that place.
Several years later, after serving a two year mission in Korea for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I got married, had one child. I finished a six month course in Technical Support to get a job here, but I knew that my prospects were limited. More time passed, and as people got promoted, I realized that without a degree of some sort, I will spend the rest of my life answer phones and telling people to unplug their cable internet modems and plug them back in – a future that pays well at the moment, but something that I don’t want to do the rest of my life.
One day, I drove by West 41st during an Internet installation and I saw it. The Red Onion. A stark reminder of what “could have been” I suppose. I didn’t even dare step inside those hallowed doors. I didn’t deserve it. That day, I told myself, ” I need to graduate. I need to get my degree.”
I made a personal vow never to go in until I had that piece of paper in my hand. And I will take my wife and my family with me. After a long hard stare at that restaurant, I had a goal.
Looking back at my UBC days, I realize that the Red Onion is the only thing I really care to remember. I don’t remember the details of my failures, my successes, and my goals. The fun times, the weird times and down right stressful times. Those four years just flashed right on by without even so much as a whisper. I guess that’s why I failed out of UBC – little motivation and regular reflection to complete what I started. Hence, this web log.
As I prepare to start again with my new degree program, I hope the Red Onion will be a source of inspiration for me – and for all those people out there like me who let an opportunity pass them by.
Happy reading and wish me good luck (or as Barron said, “Good Skill – there’s no such thing as luck). See you in four years. In the meantime, visit the REAL Red Onion. You won’t be disappointed!