Friday, October 14, 2016

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What has my glamorous, Tuscan adventure of fountains, spaghetti, and sunsets brought me this week? Well, ours is not the stereotypical vineyards and double kisses existence that you may have heard about somewhere-damn-else. My life is basically filled of African refugees hanging up on me. They ring once, or "flash" me, and then wait for me to call them back to resolve some kind of issue, emergency or lesser emergency, one to twelve times a day. I have been flashed so often in the last two days that even exposure to Trump's junk would not phase me one bit. 
 
We were sick as dogs in the suddenly cold, autumn landscape of Lucca, so I missed a few English lessons at the beginning of the week. By the time I could venture outside, it was to pay back a loan on the behalf of young Joshua who was about to get his behind beaten if he did not come up with the money. While we were talking outside, two men came up and started talking to him in a pseudo-friendly manner. Joshua doesn't speak Italian so I told the men that he was studying Italian and showed them the Learn Italian in 10 Minutes A Day book that I had in my hands. They grinned and playfully warned that he better behave himself. When they walked away, he told me that they were police officers in their street clothes and that we had better warn Stanley that they were headed his way, most likely to pick his pockets since he owes them money in fines that he was given for begging on the streets. We called him and he did not pick up for me, although five minutes before he was telling me what kind of baby supplies his wife wants me to get her. Joshua called and he picked up immediately, so I cursed him playfully and told him to move along towards the train station. 
 
The book was actually for Glory, the 17 year old, along with three bags of winter clothing. She is about my size and she is absolutely freezing at nights in the tents that The Red Cross set up in the fair ground area. I gave her three coats and some furry boots. She was just thrilled. Joshua says they fought and are no longer friends, but that is none of my business. I am not going to stop helping her because of some nonsense between two kids.
Emmanuel and I had an epic flash battle where he would call, hang up, and I would call and he would hang up until finally I could comunicate to him that I had after seven days of trying, gotten his lawyers to speak to one another and to make a plan for his permesso renewal. He can't get it renewed unless the landlord will sign a hospitality letter for him. She is not convinced she wants to do that and will not give us an answer until the end of the weekend by Skype. If she refuses, which will greatly "vex me," as the Nigerians say, I will have to be very creative because we can't let him become clandestine now when his son Precious has so much at stake. A man's life hangs in the balance. No pressure.
 
Then Jennifer called because she needs 800 euros to pay off the corrupt officials at the Nigerian consulate for passports for her and baby Wisdom. I told her that I did not have money for that kind of luxury item, but that I would take her baby food shopping next week because the charities will give out dried pasta, but they don't offer baby food or diapers. 
 
Next Tina called me to say that a Nigerian man told her she could have a two bedroom apartment, but in addition to three months rent and the real estate agent's fee, she would have to pay him 500 euros. We were coming up with a very intricate plan to get her the apartment despite the fact that she is 500 euros short, when she decided that he was not to be trusted because he would only put his own name on the contract next to hers and not the father of her baby's name.
 
Meanwhile, I was facebook messaging with Gabry who needs 500 euros to pay off the corrupt Romanian driving school staff. No matter if you pass the taxi driving test, you cannot have a license without an additional under the counter payment. I was explaining to him about the donation my mother had made for his new taxi, when it became clear that he does not really understand written Italian. He wrote me in a mixture of Romanian and phonetic Italian, asking who is My Mother? Why she give me money? Do I know she name? But he was very happy when he finally caught on that he has a chance of actually realizing his dreams. 
This is from the summer, but since I feel underwater now . . .
 
Then Stanley's wife called to give me the measurements of the baby mattress she needs. I explained to her why she might want to get a flu shot next time she is at the doctor's. 
 
Last night, the fever that comes at the end of a virus to kind of burn it off once and for all was hitting me, and I was hoping to go to bed early. As I was drifting off, I remembered that we were doing evaluations of English levels at the Perini company in the morning, so I messaged my old student Lucia because I know she is still looking for an accountant job. I told her she could send me her CV/resumè and I asked if she could keep an eye out in her area for menial jobs for my group members. She wrote back with a facebook group for people who are seeking and offering work. I found a listing for a job interview for dishwashers that was scheduled for the morning. I messaged the author of the ad, and she turned out to be the wife of a chef. I sent her my job flier for Cool and Job and she said that her husband would meet with them. I read the date wrong and she said that they could come in the morning as I had asked even though the official interviews were the following day. I was happy with that because it is better if they get their interviews before any other candidates. 
 
Flash forward to F and me interviewing and shaking the hands of a dozen or so coughing and sneezing Perini employees, forgetting to write down their ability levels on a graduated scale between A1 to B2, and generally being a disorganized, half asleep chattterbox, while receiving flashes every five minutes from Cool and Job who were lost and could not receive their texts from us with the address of the job interview. We took turns coaching them and they did make it to the place. Unfortunately, the chef was not there. However, on the upside they will be first in line tomorrow, which is the actual day for the interviews. If they don't get that weekend job, we found two other listings that they can try on Monday after we print out CV/resumès for them.
 
T has been messaging me a lot from Cyprus, as well. She is finally having a good time despite three hours of sleep the first night, a turbulent flight, an awkward welcome into her host family who has only sons, ages 14 and 18, none of whom speak any languages that she speaks, apart from some English ability on the part of the mother. She has eaten a lot of halloumi cheese as a meat substitute and has gotten to see some very beautiful archeological sites like the amphitheater and the birthplace of aphrodite. She also got a tour of a carob factory and met some politicians, including the mayor of her town. It is 90 degrees there and she is walking a lot. I guess none of us is living exactly the life we pictured here, but it doesn't suck. 

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