Friday, September 23, 2016

Bureaucratic express
Given the fact that complying with the rules feels like an endless voyage to nowhwere, doesn't it make sense that I like to shake things up wherever I go? 

Despite the fact that we used our own money to renovate Tina and Job's house for the good of their new baby and that we were able to negotiate a letter of hospitality for Tina which enabled her to file for residency with the local city goverment, the comune, she is still not able to get basic welfare benefits for her family. Obviously, they are both still unemployed, as are new parents Jennifer and Cool, as are their relatives Stanley and his new wife who is also named Tina. The two Tina situation has led everyone to refer to our Tina as Mamma Peace and Jennifer as Mamma Wisdom. It was weird how quickly the new Tina came back into our lives. We remember her from when we used to give her money two years ago. She has deep dimples and a striking smile, but now she is also wild Stanley's pregnant wife, which makes her also Jennifer's sister-in-law. They don't have jobs either and they don't have a rental contract because they are temporarily crashing at Jennifer's place.

Peace loves her new bouncy chair!

We spent hours and hours trying to get baby Peace her health card and an assignment to a pediatrician, but the computers were down for almost a week. The same day we got her on the list for one of the doctors with the friendliest reputations that is in walking distance of their house, the health card appeared in their mail slot. We tried to get other errands done like buying teething medicine for baby Wisdom, a nasal passage cleaner for baby Peace, more infant sized diapers and the like. It was rewarding to drop off the donations we picked up over the weekend from some generous Italian new mothers to both Mamma Peace and Stanley's Tina, pink and blue respectively.

Peace and Wisdom!

We also went to Caritas in Montecatini where we got a big lecture from this woman named Elida about how it was Social Services job to help them make ends meet and that they could only do so much. They made copies of all of Mamma Peace's documents and they told her that based on her address she had to go to a Parish that is within three blocks of her house instead of their location which is only about five blocks from her house. They said that as long as she brought her proof of residency she could get a care package every Monday. However, when she got there they told her that a letter of hospitality and the residency letter from the comune of Montecatini were not sufficient if her name did not appear on the rental contract itself. They told Jennifer that her house which is also within walking distance, was districted for yet another parish where Jennifer says they only give care packages once a month that are not much bigger than the weekly packages that Tina would get every week if they let her. The Caritas lady, Elida, also told us that they should not be afraid to go to social service because babies only get taken from families in the case of severe neglect. Jennifer told her that she did ask for help from social services, but no aid had been given as of yet because she is still on the long list of people waiting for home visits. Tina was also turned away from the Post Office for a kind of welfare assistance for babies of low income families because Tina's name is not on the rental contract. The only reason the name is not there is because the landlords will not be back in Italy to make the change to the contract, provided they keep their promise, until mid-October. I called Jim Yardley from The New York Times to report all of this, and he let me know that he is transitioning to a new job so he will have to send another Italy reporter to cover our group.

Tina, Stanley's wife

We also invested a lot of time on this wild goose chase to get Jennifer a new wardrobe. There is a site called Lucca Gratis or Gratis Lucca, I can't recall, where people give stuff away for free. There is a lot more requesting than giving, and even less thanking, so I don't know why I was surprised that when we finally got the owners of the furniture to disclose their address it turned out that the piece was in a dilapidated state. This was good news because Jennifer's Nigerian van driver backed out at the last minute and so we didn't really have a good way of transporting the stuff. They say this is the only guy who is trusted with being a moving van for the whole Nigerian community, but, just our luck, his motor needs repairs. We are wary of making a scene ever since F was questioned by police when he tried to give Paul a donated winter blanket from the back of our car. Anyway, this meant just hours of wasted time for nothing. F also drove for over an hour to bring a monetary wedding gift to Ezekiel who has solved his documentation issues which had resulted in real jail time by marrying his true love Alessia, who happens to be Italian. We couldn't make it to the ceremony due to our work engagements, but we wanted to honor the occasion. 

Oh, and did I mention that this was the week we had to deal with not just our annual check of the hot water heater, which turns out to be completely not set up correctly, but we have also been on call for the repair issues for Paul and Tina and Job's heaters, as well? We had to pay for the repairs in Montecatini. I tried to talk to the Italian guy who found Paul his current apartment, but he knows him as Osas and so had no idea what I was talking about. I always forget that Nigerians are famous for having a dozen names and not even being called the same thing at the same time by their closest friend groups. That is why at baby Peace's naming ceremony Job went by Bob, Bobby, and also Joaquin Phoenix. Just kidding about that last one. As you know, I am terrified of caldaia technicians after the last batch threatened me and were very nasty. We have a new company now, and the guy was very kind hearted, but I have vowed never to be alone when they do the inspections. Luckily, things in Montecatini timed out so that I can parlay our payment for the repairs into a request for the landlords to add Tina and Job's name to the rental contract.

Meanwhile, as an English teacher in Tuscany, I continue to be horrified by the stories of mean English teachers who have made their students feel ashamed of their speaking abilities. The majority of my classes for companies and individuals have turned into a kind of rehabilitation for traumatized students who are terrified of being publicly humiliated for not knowing the meaning of a word or what a double negative is. Luckily, I am the least intimidating ex New Yorker in the world as all of my talents are useless here and not one person has ever heard of a cronut or the pizza rat. I actually think my patronus on Pottermore turned out to be the pizza rat, and so I was not at all surprised when I got sorted into a house that is for great healers and sounds like a fake curse word that only a frigid librarian would use.

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