Sunday, May 15, 2016

LA SBORNIA, parte 5
Friday and Saturday have been like a sequel to the movie Hangover, but cold stone sober.

I came up with the possibly genius idea of writing a letter in English about the police squad that is going around Lucca levying fines on starving African immigrants who have no choice but to beg to survive and confiscating all of their pocket money/earnings so that they can get leverage on them to take away their stay permits/permessos. This letter would be an invitation to the prefect of Lucca and the mayor and the head of the police to meet with me about the difference between maintaining civil order and taking away the livelihoods of people who have been constrained by the inhumane laws to exist without any way of supporting themselves. The sly dog element of the plan was that I would have my student who leads the immigration division of the prefect read the letter as part of her English lesson. 

It started well and she even offered to help me meet with her boss, but then the whole thing went south, no pun intended. I got a call from ARCI, one of the immigrant aid groups I had been trying to enlist during the week, during the lesson. The caller was speaking so loudly that my student could hear every word as this man's karma did him in. He was saying that the problem that I had called about did not exist about fourteen seconds after my student had fully admitted that it did exist. I told him that this government official who speaks to fairly frequently would like to disagree with him and handed her the phone. As he stammered and backtracked I started cracking up melodramatically on the couch, hoping to pantomime my way into my student's good graces. That failed and she told me that she had a lot of respect for this guy so my karma caught up with me and I started stammering and backtracking and it wasn't fun. He said that aside from my allegations that the begging law was unfair, I was also saying that the immigrants are being blackmailed into paying high rents for unlivable apartments. She read on.

When she got to the end of the letter she told me that she was disappointed that I did not have a reasonable solution to solve this problem that did not involve writing new legislation, which she assured me would be impossible. I did learn from her that these new patrol groups go by a new name --nucleo operativo antidegrado-- and that they are headed by the same officer I had words with over Stanli and Cool when they got harassed and brought to the police station last week -- agente Delnoa. 

I have the assurance of my ex-student and journalist for Il Tirreno that if my invitation to discuss this in a civil manner goes unaccepted, she will print the full letter in the newspaper where I will be naming names.

Cut to later in the day when I call everyone in my group to make sure they are safe and staying out of the city center. I give Emmanuel the lawyer's fax number in case he can convince the camp manager to let me see a copy of whatever kind of letter they had him sign so that I can verify whether or not he actually had permission to leave the camp to go to the police station to pick up his stay permit. All this despite the fact that if his appeal does not go through, he will be sent back to Nigeria for the sole reason that he did not understand enough Italian to give officials the "right" answers.

Then at 10:30 PM I frantically messaged Paul to see if he had gotten on the train to get home from another test day for a job at the restaurant that we got him. I am not his mother, but I am a mother, a hennish one at that and I didn't trust that when he said he would only not contact me if he was safely on the train, I didn't believe him. Of course, he was not on the train and would have had no way to get home if I didn't second guess him. He also had no credit on his phone. He said he was still working and would call when he needed a ride home. It was almost 1 AM when he called and F went to pick him up. The only people left were the michelin star chef and the head of the kitchen. They cheerily called for Paul who was changing out of his dirty clothes. They said he should bring his documents the next day, which gave us hope that he can officially be on staff. I woke up at 2 AM and had no idea where F was and he had taken my phone so I couldn't call him.

The next day the same thing happened, but F asked the head of the kitchen about how Paul is ever going to get home to Montecatini during the week and he was told that there might be space for him in their worker crash pad. This would be truly awesome. Paul says everyone is so nice to him and he is happier than we have ever seen him. I hope for me that means: One down, three jobs to go.

In the midst of all this, T and I planned a surprise birthday party for F. We had some of friends agree to wait downstairs at dinnertime and text me so I could buzz them in and they could suprise him in the kitchen and take him out for pizza and beer. I got three men to agree to this silly plan, but one, Luca, had to work late and when Fabio and Angelo came in the door, I had been watching Wendy Williams and I could not comunicate with them at all. It was like the nightmare where you are unprepared for a test. I offered them wine we didn't have. One guy made a joke about F's shirt being so nice that it led him to think he had known about the surprise. F changed his shirt. Just a hot mess. But everyone had a nice time. T and I had to finish cooking the dinner for ourselves and we learned that spatulas are not trustworthy equipment and that in order to make decaf you need a coffee filter.

SORPRESA! They look hungover, but, as we had no wine, it is just the effect of listening to me speak Italian after watching Wendy Williams. #HANGOVER-IV

For his birthday Luca got F some suspenders, and it served F right because that man's pants are always hanging south of his underwear band, no matter how tight his skinny jeans start out when we first buy them.   

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