Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Now what?
I don't know. I thought about not telling you this because it is not pretty, but it is the truth. And the journalist in me feels like I have to tell the whole story.



Anna Morelli, the famous food writer, came through with another amazing job offer -- this time with a very accomplished chef in Puglia, about four hours in the train from here. I understood the chef wanted two men, so I proposed to send Cool and Job. It turned out he only wanted one. I agonized, but realized that it was really Cool's turn. I offered him the opportunity. I explained that the hours would be long and that it would be hard work. I told him that the chef said that he would treat whoever we sent like family, but that he needed someone who would work not just hard, but fast. He said he would help find the man a place to stay and that, if things worked out after the trial period, he would give that man a valuable work contract and help him to find housing for his wife and baby, as well. It would be the chance to stop begging and get a real job. Cool said that he did not want to work the long hours that Emmanuel had to work and that he would work, even twelve hours a day if it was eight to eight, but that he did not want to work restaurant hours that Emmanuel had tried to work which means going to work at 9:30 AM, an afternoon break at 3:00 PM for two hours, and then working until 1 or 2:00 AM to close up. I told him that I did not know the exact hours of this restaurant, but that dishwashers in Italy work long hours. I reminded him that you need a work contract to get a carta di soggiorno which allows immigrants ther ability to travel within Europe and to accept work in other countries. He turned down the offer. 

I felt disappointed with him and for him. On the positive side, this meant I could offer Job the opportunity and would not have to break him the news that the position was only available for one of them, and it wasn't him. I could not reach him all day Sunday because his phone did not have money on it. I finally tracked him down through a relative's phone.  He told me he needed to talk to Tina about it, even though Tina had already confided in me that she was all for it. Jennifer had done the same, to be fair. He did not respect the deadline I set for the decision, and I gave him an extension; but, in the end, he also turned down the chance to get a real job. He gave the justification that it is too far away, even though I know his next move is getting illegal work in Germany or in Malta. He also said that if the police bother him here, he will tell them to arrest him or send him back to Nigeria because he knows that he has a right to beg. I told him his money from me is about to run out and that Peace is out of baby food again. I told him that he has no other prospects and that this is just an audition of sorts and he can come home if he doesn't like it. He said he hated to disappoint me, but his answer is no.

I assume Emmanuel was very dramatic in his recounting of the events that led to him getting fired, and he scared the other two men. Nevertheless, I think it is pure foolishness. I also feel like I can't help them anymore, if this is their attitude. I am beginning a sort of weaning off time, which may help them, too, given that we will not stay in Lucca after T graduates from high school. Emmanuel, by the way, still has to be brought back to the accountant to sign more papers finalizing the end of his contract. I can't face it, so F has agreed to take him.

As far as the SAT Subject test situation goes, I can tell you that we picked a good airbnb and that we planned well and forgot nothing. I still got no sleep, as I am sensitive to street noise. The morning of the test one poor boy got turned away because the test center had decided not to give the general test four months ago, and he did not know about the change. T found the people who took the test with her to be rather off-putting. One girl, who appeared to have a terrible cough, was kissing up on her father in a way that made me uncomfortable, and was later seen to kick him, playfully?, in the shins. It was a lot. T came out of the test center declaring that she was not sure if her penciled in circles were dark enough. So that was stressful, but now it is done. We lived. She promises to be even more stressed out for the general test in August. Her catastrophic thinking had me prepared for the apocalypse, so I was pleasantly surprised that they let her sit at a desk with papers in front of her and that no one had to fight. 

I called up the Senegalese man, Khadim, who I met on the walls of Lucca where he sells umbrellas in the rain. I had told him last year that I would keep my eyes open for a job for him. If the chef gets back to us, I will send him. I would have liked to send our friend Moro from the Red Cross Christmas extravaganza, but he did not answer the call in time and it was first come, first serve. We will send the lucky winner off with some expense money and our good wishes, and maybe he will get to change his life. Our formerly grumpy neighbor made a generous donation to the group, which will cover this and the legal costs. People can be surprising. 

The owner of the Ali's house even sent him a hospitality letter finally. Unfortunately, he can't get it stamped because of his lack of a passport and the expiration of his stay permit. I have written to his new lawyer for advice. Thursday we will go put up mosquito screens for Peace and drop off donations. 

As much as I try not to judge, I'm judging. Clearly, I have to stop watching The Wendy Williams Show. I just can't imagine not taking a job no matter what the hours r the distance, if it meant not having to put my family in danger. While cultural differences and life perspective may impact on our decision making, I have to step back at this point.  

No comments: