Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Then and Now 21 - Man Time

Then and Now 21 - Man Time
Time: Mid-2007, at my bud's aunt's place.

When my two lost weeks had gone by, and my bud and I had stopped putting it off, we realized that it was time to start looking for work. He was definitely in the better position at that point, because if he found a job, he'd work for a while before going back to America. If he couldn't, our trip would be a vacation before he found a job back in the States. I, on the other hand, had come here to live and be my new self, so I had a lot more riding on our exploits here than he. I guess that explains why I got a really geeky haircut by buzzing my hair down to length 3 on all sides before I came here. Even worse, I brought a buttoned, long sleeve shirt and slacks for any future job interviews. My bud, of course, had only his jeans and T-shirts.

Our responsibilities were split right down the middle: my bud would find us work near his aunt's house, and if it didn't work out, I would find housing for us when we moved to the main city. And a few weeks after we both got here, he got wind of a job opening teaching kids a little bit across town. That evening, he and I dressed up and headed out to the job interview, and we took a taxi up there to be on time. Halfway there, he smirked and said, "I hope you remember the streets we've been turning on, because we're walking back." I snickered and half-heartedly started following landmarks so we could return on foot.

When we got there, we had plenty of time to spare, and there was still a little daylight to burn. So, my bud and I took a walk in a local park and did a little people watching. It was oddly decorated with some strange art pieces: there were several of them, and they were all a jumble of geometric shapes, curved bars and just random chaos. Some were fenced off, too, I guess to keep kids from running into the parts that were sticking out. After a few minutes, we headed to the place where we might have new jobs and a steady source of income.

Inside the little school, a local woman who spoke excellent English welcomed us in, and gave us a brief tour. I found the place oddly constructed: the classrooms seemed quite cramped, and every wall, except the one farthest away from the school's entrance, were made completely of either glass or plastic, allowing a full view into the rooms. It almost seemed like they were all zoo exhibits.

The boss called over one of the other foreign teachers to say hello. He was middle-aged, pudgy and bald, and his greeting was odd: he tried his best not to make eye contact with either me or my bud, and spoke mostly under his breath. At the time, I didn't have the experience of rude foreigners from when I was at the hostel and my apartment later. Later on, I got quite used to foreign men who looked at me with contempt or fear (I was competition for the jobs and women they wanted, and I was better than them), so in hindsight, this greeting was nothing special.

What surprised me was that after Then and Now 2, and even looking as geeky as I did, I had made such progress with my personal confidence that I actually had the first man, ever, to look at me unhappily as he compared himself to me. But I still felt bad for the guy, because I knew he was making an effort to say hello, but he just couldn't bring himself to do it. So I thrust my hand out to shake his, and after my bud and I said our hellos to him, he left quickly.

A second foreign teacher came up and introduced himself, a taller guy with nice hair and a sharp nose. He was much more enthusiastic than the first guy, and greeted my bud and I heartily. He took over as tour guide and brought us to the classrooms, toy boxes and other stuff we needed to know if we taught there. Finally, when everything was done, the boss gave us her card, and my bud and I left to go home. On the way back, my bud told me that the pay was terrible compared to what we could do in the big city, and that we should probably just relax until it was time to move there. I trusted his judgement, and we continued on back to his aunt's place.

When we got back, the door to our room on the third floor was open, and the light was on. We walked in, and there was my bud's uncle, who I hadn't met until that moment. In just a muscle shirt and shorts, he quietly waved hello, and signalled for my bud and I to take a seat next to him. The TV was on, and he was watching baseball. I'm more of a baseball player than a baseball watcher, but I still happily had a seat next to my bud to check out the game. It was a very relaxing time, and I started to understand the appeal of baseball, when I used to see it as just a series of pop flies, caught outs, strikes, balls and commercials: it's about hanging with your friends and theirs, and enjoying a time of quiet excitement that can erupt at any time into cheers or jeers at an excellent hit or mistake.

After a short while, my bud's uncle saw a man come up to bat. In the local language, which I actually understood for once, he said, "Black people are really strong, aren't they?" I smiled nervously and exchanged glances with my bud, not knowing what to say. He and I laughed about it later, though. A little later, my bud's uncle left us, and my bud and I played some Guitar Hero before we went to bed.

As for today...

I woke up at 9:00 to my son throwing up on the bed.
I watched him while my wife got a load of laundry started.
We went to the doctor's office, then we went home.
My wife went to her mom's house.
I played cars with my son.
I surfed the net.
I took my son to the arcade and bought my wife a doll, then we went home.
I hung up wet laundry.
I ate lunch.
I played cars with my son.
He threw a screaming tantrum, so I lectured him.
I played video games.
My wife woke up and went to work.
My son woke up and threw another screaming tantrum, so I yelled at him.
I went to work.
I taught students.
I came home.
I cooked and ate dinner.
I did the dishes.
I cleaned up the floor and table.
I hung up wet laundry again.
I played video games.
I slept.

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