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Sunday, August 3, 2014


Slowly, but surely, the decorations in my office have been disappearing.  The helium balloons are gradually losing their will to float, and one by one, they have descended to the ground.  There only remains a remnant of the festivities that were July.

Once again, like the falling balloons, the year is heading towards its twilight and we have stormed into August in a blink.  Although the kids in England, and surrounds, have just completed another year at school, and are looking forward to six weeks holiday, the children in the US of A are gearing up to go back for a new year in the educational calendar.

I think I have mentioned my aversion to the 'Back to school' sign.  As we bade farewell to our teachers on the Friday afternoon, in late July, the signs went up in all the shops!  The freedom from scholastic toil was marred by the reminders throughout the month and a half, that we were doomed to resume academic drudgery.  Despite the fact that we were normally ready to return to the institution, this was not our thought on the first day of liberty!

The other thing that the 'Back to school' sign indicates, is that there are a variety of 'newbies', or 'summer staff', in various departments. I have a lot of patience for those just starting out in a new vocation, as I remember my very first day at work.  It was in an office.  I was still having to get up, get ready, get there on time, and work a full day, but not only was my free time, free (no homework), but I got some money at the end of each week for my effort!  However, I was the new girl, and I was going to have to 'learn the ropes'!  I was no longer on equal footing with twenty to thirty others, all of whom were my age!

My discussion with a neighbour, regarding where to purchase the best 'fish and chips', led to a fancy on Saturday, as I enjoyed the summer holiday feeling that I generally experience during the hot weekends of a Texas summer.  I  had not considered that the 'traditional English pub', that came into the conversation, which is a couple of miles away, also served 'traditional English bangers'!  Upon further review, I found the menu contained many 'old favourites', including shepherds pie, and scotch eggs, although I am unsure as to whether the establishment's namesake, to wit Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective, and his medically trained assistant, actually partook of items on said 'traditional menu'.  It could, of course, be argued, in some circles, that salsa and queso, with flatbread. is the Mediterranean version of the famous traditional 'cheese and pickle' sandwich, but I would hazard a guess that the traditional English Hamburger in the days of Queen Victoria, was perhaps a jovial name for one of her German relations, who attempted to speak the Monarch's English, rather than a snack enjoyed after the ball!  However I digress.  With the temptation of a 'good old Saturday night at the pub', being too much to miss, Dana and I invited my daughter and her husband to join us for dinner.  The 'new girl' was finding it rather hard to keep hold of the 'rope', as she took our order for dinner.  In fact, she had a hard time holding on to anything, including the food.  'I've got this', was probably said in rather too much haste, as the young lady dismissed her aide and started to hand out the plates containing our dinner.  Three were slid across the table and miraculously stopped within inches of their departure from the wooden surface.  The fourth, which contained my son-in-laws cod and shrimp, teetered on the edge, but finally clung to the varnished top.  Unfortunately, the message to halt did not extend to the small dish that contained a reasonably quantity of tomato sauce, and this continued to sail off the counter, and as is the temperament of loose salsa, splashed along his arm and across the front of his t-shirt.  The screams were not from the customer, but from the new girl, who was now presumably regretting her decision to 'go this one alone' and as the remaining party of three threw our napkins towards the victim, who now looked like a casualty from the 'Hound of the Baskervilles', she jumped up and down, shouting, 'don't hate me'!  The suggestion of a cloth to mop up the mess, was not adhered to immediately, as the dance that accompanied the cries not to be loathed, had not yet been completed.  Fortunately, the trainer that had been dismissed suggested that we merely came in for the former part of 'dinner and a show', and sent the new girl off to get a towel.  'Perhaps you could put some water on it', was all Edward could say when our waitress arrived back at the table, with a dry cloth, and a new pot of ketchup. 'Perhaps she can keep this one in the bowl', I thought, reminding myself that I, too, had been the spiller rather than the spillee during the previous week.  I had intended empathising with the young lady, but she was still intent on auditioning for 'Lord of the Dance', whilst continuing to plead that Edward have no animosity towards her, as her colleague came to the rescue with a damp rag, together with apologies.  A request for forgiveness seemed to be alien to our very own Margot Fontaine!

Dinner, despite incident, was very enjoyable, and a discount was given for the inconvenience.  It appears that management had assessed the worth of Edward's tee shirt at $7, or perhaps, at the end of each academic term, they receive a list of charges for the removal of tomato based liquid from fabric, from local dry cleaning specialists!  Edward was not particularly perturbed, and as I know only too well, accidents will happen!

The scholastic 'fall out' continued to follow me throughout the week.  The overnight delivery servicemen, that drop off parcels and the like to various offices in our building, were working in pairs.  The trainee watched the first day, handed me the parcel the second, asked for my name the third, and by the fourth day was competent enough to use the signing machine as his colleague looked on.  Whether he shall become the 'new guy' for our particular location, remains to be seen, but he seemed to have grasped the 'rope' rather well!  The telephone solicitation trainee was not as proficient.  Her introduction was not particularly coherent, and when I asked her to repeat what she had just shrieked, I heard another voice telling her to slow down and then suggest a deduction in volume.  Not wanting to be rude, as everyone needs to earn a living, I stayed on the line, and waited for the second round.  The decibels were still as high, and the content still muddled, so I reiterated my desire to have the message repeated.  'I told you to hold!' was very clear.  The command was such that I was rather curious as to what was going to happen next.  Apparently, it was determined that my custom was lost and that it would be a waste of time to continue with the call, as it was terminated abruptly.  I waited for a repeat performance but it did not come.  I doubt that even Sherlock would have considered the call to be elementary! 

Moving to a new country, (ten years ago on Friday last!) I had to start anew, at 'middle age'.  Not only did I have to consider a new job, but a new home and a new culture.  Change is not always easy, but the willingness to embrace helps with the transition.  We do not always end up in a job that we want, and most of us have to step on the bottom rung of the ladder before we can reach the top.  Perhaps I did a little dance when I spilt the orangeade over the floor in the convenience store.  However, I don't know that I would have coupled it with an audition for Chorus Line!  Perhaps I just don't have the confidence (or talent!) 

The 'Back to School' signs still haunt me.  I see it as a constant reminder that shorter days are upon us, and my weekends will be taken up with something other than reading by the pool, a delight that I enjoy so much!  I will also bid farewell to our resident 'traditonal hamburger', (aka my German neighbour,) and various other friends who make up the poolside party, as we disappear into hibernation for the few months where the temperature dips low enough for us to wear jackets, and (dare I mention) coats. 

No doubt I shall receive several calls this week, as is the norm, from people who are not proficient enough to make them.  I shall attempt to be polite.  I am not sure whether the young lady in the pub has left to go on a Broadway tour, but I would hope that she has made no enemies that are less forgiving than us.  Perhaps she can hire the illustrious Mr Holmes to find her self esteem.  Samantha may have to take up the task of finding Edward a new t-shirt as next Friday starts the three day period in Texas known as tax-free weekend.  We have plans, and providing I do not have to hop on a plane, to meet my imminently expected grandchild, I can almost guarantee our trip will be ...... another story.

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