Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Swirling Thoughts #31 – housekeeper karma revisited

Back in Brooklyn, my Mexican housekeeper used to come to me every so often with an envelope clutched tight in her hand. She would be certain it contained very important information because her name was typed on the front AND on the inside letter. She never knew what it was but would ask me to read it for her and explain. It was hardly ever anything important but how could she know that?

I have a new way of putting myself to sleep – each night I take one of the kids’ notes from their knapsacks and try to read (and understand) it. Forget notes in English. There are none. Sometimes the notes are typed so they are in block letters. Other times they are handwritten in script. Either way, there are no nekudot - ever. Today I signed some class rules for Becky. I was able to decipher some of the main rules – respect the teacher, respect the other students – but then there were some very specific bolded rules about the first meal and the second meal of the day. I could swear it said send halvi (dairy) or parve for the first meal and basri (meat) or parve for the second meal. But that seems so weird. Am I packing a cheese sandwich next to a salami sandwich? I’m sure that’s NOT what it means and so, I’ll devote some of my energy to creating a strictly parve menu for that second meal.

When I need to wake myself up again, I play a game called Let’s Match the Capitol One Bill Charges to the Appropriate Vendors. The August bill seemed okay. There were a few weird looking charges but, like in the US, we figured out sometimes the front office is in one location and the billing office is elsewhere – no problem. But the September bill came in with some weird charges that were weird beyond that. Big and weird. One of them, of course, is the Mai Eden charge. I’ve heard if you call them yelling and screaming that you wish to cancel your water service, they will try to woo you back with an even better deal. So far they are triple billing me and I can’t find anyone to yell and scream at in English. Which brings me to the mail. Most likely all these billing mysteries would be solved if we could read the mail. Which usually comes typed in block letters (never in English) and with no nekudot – ever. The fact that I have to go to the shopping center to pick up my mail does not facilitate quicker and easier reading of the mail. In fact, quite the opposite. Until my Capital One bill shows up looking weird (or a parent asks me why I missed back to school night), I can pass my days in ignorant bliss with the children’s school flyers and notes home as the only faint reminder of the reality I am unable to decipher.

I keep asking my friends how long it takes. They tell me it takes years. My old housekeeper has lived in the US for more than 20 years. Here’s hoping my klita (absorption) goes better than hers.

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