Sunday, May 21, 2017

nella brace/into the frying pan
Just as Emmanuel promised to try his best at the new job we got him, a friend of his who is also Paul's best friend - Ali - got himself arrested. Ali is in the same legal predicament as Emmanuel was a few weeks ago because he has gotten two of his appeals for political asylum rejected and is onto his third. For this reason he does not have a valid stay permit. He was caught begging without the right documents. The vigili took him to the police station and then they handcuffed him. He had a panic attack because he didn't want the cuffs because in his mind he didn't want them to think he was a criminal; so he resisted the officers and got written up for that, too. If we don't get the landlord to write him a hospitality letter, the lawyer that I got him through a friend for an appointment Wednesday won't be able to help him at all. He must go before the judge on the first of June for the criminal charges. 

Ali kept me waiting hours for him to come on my day off and have me read the papers they gave him and make copies of them. I had to explain that I only do this work on a schedule. Group members know that they have to honor the times we give, but he is not even in our group. It is just that Paul told me he needed me to help his best friend. After I made the copies I gave him a fake doctor's note with 20 euros hidden in it so he could eat without begging for a stretch. 

All of this happened while the donation picnic was looming. The weather reports were different on every single website. I was fully stressed trying to figure out what to do. If I had thought it through better, I would have realized that the even hint of an idea of a rain plan would mean that almost no Italians would come. We had made a rain plan for the bookstore cafe, but then at the meeting time, the sky was fairly clear and the sun was out. I waited by myself out there for about 25 minutes. The group of six that did show up were at the wrong spot. I reached out to Simonetta, and she made a massive effort in between errands for her own kids and brought a bag of shoes to boot. 

Jennifer and Tina took the train and F met them there to take them to where I had set up the food and the blowing bubbles for the kids. About one quarter of the people who said they would come came, but the people who came were really really sweet. Two ladies told me that I could email them a list of things that the families needed. Others, like Stefania and Marco, whose son and daughter are holding Peace in that killer photo, brought lots of groceries and stuff for the babies. All the sudden the sky got dark. I got umbrellas and baby stroller covers at the same Chinese market where I had gotten the bubbles, but we were not prepared for how fast the storm came on and the fact that the strollers did not fold up. 

At the end, Marco and his son were the only ones left with us and we had to get the stuff from his car. The men could not fold the stroller and managed to put it back together backwards. Marco wanted some guidance, but F would not speak Italian to him, so they were both standing there staring at me while F flapped his arms about. They took off to deal with transfering the stuff from one car to another.

Tina and Jennifer did not want to be separated from their strollers to enter the car, which left us all on foot and me in the rain trying to cover all of them while I got soaked. I got them to a bike shop where I begged the men to fix the stroller, which they eventually did after 20 minutes of effort. Then I had to run into my old hair parlor, where embarrassingly enough I don't get my hair done anymore, and beg them for tape to hold those cheap stroller covers together with. I had to bite the duck tape in the rain with my teeth. Then I pushed Wisdom's stroller because he was crying and Jennifer had to carry him on her back in a wrap. Peace started crying so we had to push two empty strollers 20 blocks to the train station. When we got there, it stopped raining.

I can only imagine that the groceries and donations got to their houses ahead of them with F nice and dry and in style. I am quite sure that we could have done better. And any solution would have been better than that one. Tina was so mad she would hardly look at me at the end. And then I walked home like a wet cat in a very fabulous walk of shame. 

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