an exhausting morning adventure

Well, I was trying and trying to sleep, but they wouldn’t let me. They wanted me to go looking for him. I had looked at the bus schedules, and since today is a holiday, the buses are running on an abnormal schedule, like Sunday. There is actually supposed to be an early morning NV or VN or whichever bus on Sunday, and it might have been possible to catch it, but I would get there late enough that they would have already left work only a few minutes before.

So I debated and refused and battled against the voices telling me to go there and look for him. I had written a note but it was not completed yet – it was so long that it took forever to translate and I just went to bed. I brought it with me in my backpack but never gave it to him. So it can still be finished.

I did, finally, finally, after a lot of battling, get up and ride my bike to the bus stop. It looked like the only bus would be too late, so I just rode my bike on all the way there to Wegmans. It’s not extremely far, but I have bad hips and my bikes aren’t ergonomic – I have short legs and a long torso, and there are no bikes made for that shape. So I am sitting up too high when I ought to be leaning forward. Leaning forward moves the weight to the front, which fixes everything. I am an extremely slow bike rider because of this, and because I don’t want to hurt my knees any more.

There was one brief beautiful moment when I was riding my bike down a sidewalk in a place where they had pretty trees and a little wastewater pond and I felt glad to be doing this, if only for a moment. I was really hungry and grouchy. I was in an extremely bad mood. I felt absolutely certain there was no chance whatsoever of even encountering him. I was sure this was all a trick and not worthwhile at all.

I got there, feeling certain that they had gotten out of work early and there was no chance I would see them. It was right around 8:00 am, maybe a little before. I went shopping and got a couple small things.

As I was going out the door, I looked out and I saw them both standing there by the sidewalk where I had to go to my bike. They were just hanging out looking at their phones. He looked so small, like a very young boy, wearing a hooded jacket. I wasn’t sure at first that it was them, but it was.

As I walked past them I said, ‘Hey, people.’ They didn’t say anything but I am accustomed to this – most of them completely ignore me and all English speakers unless we speak Spanish to them and unless we speak it competently enough that they know for sure they can have an actual conversation.

There is this thing that happens, which I have experienced, where someone ‘pretends’ to be able to speak English to me, but they really can’t – they say, ‘Hi! How’s it going?’ or something, and I start to automatically answer them in detail, giving some kind of specific response, ‘Oh, we’re really busy now that the students are back,’ but this is gibberish to them – they are expecting something like ‘Fine! How are you?’ ‘Great!’ and that’s all. There is this one lady in particular who comes to visit Carlos at work sometimes and she does this to me every time. Every time, I am fooled into thinking she knows more English than she actually does.

So, they don’t want to get involved in a conversation with someone who starts off saying something like, ‘Hola! Como estas?’ and when they try to actually start talking, the person’s eyes glaze over and they direct their attention elsewhere. I would have to demonstrate real competence at being able to have a two-way conversation before they would actually try having a conversation with me.

So, I went past them. I was told to do this. All I could do was get a glimpse of him for a few seconds, and not even make eye contact or hear his voice, just see him in his jacket standing there looking small, say ‘hey people’ to them both, then walk by.

Then I had to get home, which was difficult – I couldn’t figure out which bus to take. I ended up taking a bus to Wal-Mart first, then waiting around at Wal-Mart for over an hour. I had my Spanish Grammar Schaum’s Outline in my backpack, so I sat down on the parking lot, behind a building, in the morning sun, as it got slowly warmer and warmer – I’m probably sunburned on one side of my face. It was a quiet parking lot behind the Wal-Mart plaza, the other buildings, not Wal-Mart itself. There were no trucks, nobody unloading anything – only one truck came, a milk truck I think, and it went past me. I sat there studying my grammar, very slowly, still stuck in the boring stuff. I pronounced the words out loud to get practice at saying them, to make them feel more familiar to me.

Then, finally, I got on a bus, which went part of the way home. I had some confusion over where the bus was going, so I got off at the wrong stop, because I thought it would go closer to my house, but it didn’t, and it started going towards town instead, so I had to stop and then ride a longer way home on my bike.

I am finally home.

I am supposed to be at work. It’s Monday. I might be losing my job because of this. He must think that he can hire another dishwasher who will either 1. be a woman who accepts $400 for 60 hours of work, the entire week, so that he can completely fire me, 2. be a man who he will pay a decent wage, maybe $600 or $700 like it ought to be – he couldn’t possibly stoop so low as to pay a woman that much, but a man, yes, and that man will work 60 hours so he can completely fire me. As it is right now, if they have nobody at all, they will cover it with whoever is available for a few minutes at a time in between tasks. I still don’t understand why they can’t have a waitress do it.

I wonder – maybe this job is ‘jinxed.’ Maybe, as hard as we try, no one, not anyone from anywhere, no matter which country, no matter how poor that country is and how desperate its slaves are for a few pennies to send home, there will be no one but me who will wash a single dish at that restaurant, unless it’s the people who are already there right now doing it. That’s a fantasy. In reality, it will probably be one of the above two scenarios – someone who is either a desperate illegal immigrant or a woman with very low self-esteem, who will accept $400 for 60 hours of hard work, or else a man who he respects, who he will pay a whole lot more than he paid me to do the same job and work 60 hours.

After all of that bike riding, I am exhausted, just as I knew I would be, and yet, I have a lot more to do. I translated ‘a lot’ into Spanish, and one of the translations said ‘a mountain of’ something. I liked that. I have a mountain of problems to fix today, a mountain of things to do.


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