Monday, May 23, 2016

I Really Didn't Expect This

I had to leave my apartment today. I have to leave my apartment every Monday, but the time varies. The maid comes to clean.

The maid comes to clean when she comes. The schedule says "2 p.m.". The schedule is not authoritative. The maid is, because when she isn't here, she isn't here, and when she is here, I have to leave, no matter what the clock or the schedule say. I hate maids.

This maid is OK. I don't hate her. I don't hate maids — it's maids I hate. I'd rather do it myself. I can. I know how. I'm good at cleaning. I don't mind. I prefer it.

But here they have maid service and I have to comply. That's one reason I hate maids. I don't hate maids. I hate having to work around a maid, no matter who it is. I always clean better than a maid because I know what needs the most cleaning and I know what my standards are. No maid knows either of those as well as I do. But I'm stuck.

I need to put all my things away before the maid comes. I need to put everything back where she expects it to be before she comes. I also clean up things like wild dust bunnies, spots on the floor where water splashed and looks like a stain, random bits of trash. And things like that. It takes time.

I hate that part. I'd rather do all of it myself but I can't. So I leave, and guess when the maid will be coming this week, and when she will be done. It's a crap shoot. Today I walked around.

On the way back I saw a blonde schoolgirl. This shocked me. Blonde nine-year-old. In a school uniform. They wear uniforms here, but all other schoolgirls here have black hair. My second blonde so far. The other one was waiting for the bus around 5 p.m. a few weeks back, wearing sunglasses, heels, and a fur coat. This was possibly stranger, but she also was not nine years old, so I had some other thoughts too. She looked good.

Totally out of place in a sort of Twilight Zone way, but good.

Anyway.

Closer to my apartment I had to cross the street. Check. But it's harder now, in places, because some streets are chewed up by construction, and the only way to cross is to turn right or left and walk to a sort of temporary footbridge laid across the construction trench. Today my side was full of a woman creeping along using a walker.

So I got there, and stood to one side behind her, behind the corner of the fence, intending to wait well out of the way until she was across. A younger woman trailed behind her, keeping watch, offering encouragement. Then I noticed a middle-aged man on the far end, holding out his arms, ready to grab her walker or her herself, and prevent any falls. Then, eventually, she was across, and I advanced.

When I myself got across I noticed that the old woman with the walker was alone. No young woman, no middle-aged man. The woman and the man had gone their separate ways. They were not her relatives or friends. They were just there, and offered their protection to the old woman while she might have needed it. My eyes filled with tears.

Yet closer to my apartment I passed a small tienda. I'm not quite sure what all they sell there, but some of it is dry pet food. My friend was there today. My friend is a cat.

I don't see the cat often. If I pass the tienda 10 times in a week, I might see the cat once or twice, but we have a relationship. I cultivate cat relationships because I like cats and I guess partly because it is a challenge. Cats are cautious, some more than others. The first time ever I saw this cat I kneeled, called to it, and it came over and climbed up my front side and gave me a hug. Then I didn't see it for roughly a month, but it knows me now.

It was a treat to see it today. I always look but usually it is attending to other business, and elsewhere. Sometimes I see it but it is sleeping on a plastic barrel just inside the door. Sometimes, and all too rarely for me, it is visible, awake, and out front. Like today. I stopped.

The cat climbed on me and squeaked is rusty-hinge voice every now and then while I rubbed its ears and cheeks and neck and head, and we had a great time. The cat lost some shed fur and I gained it. The cat is my friend. My friend is a cat. I like that. I don't like carrying cat fur home on my shirt but I like spending time with my friends, especially the cautious, choosy ones. I have no problems saying that one of my friends is a cat. In fact, I know some others around here. I like that too.

And today (even better) the cat decided when it had had enough, so the cat was the one to disengage, which is always easier, and then it turned away from me, stepped a few inches into the tienda, half-turned back toward the street side to gain the right angle, and stuck its head directly into a 25-kilo bag of dry dog food. It became a cat without a head, since its head was fully inside the bag.

I may try that some day. It would be easier. Probably not at that tienda though.

And also, something else, equally unusual, and strange too.

As I was coming around the stadium I had to cross another street where there is a roundabout. I stopped at the curb, letting my toes hang over, and looked left. One truck was coming. Clear after that. I stood, my head turned fully left, watching for whatever might be coming behind that pickup truck. Clear...clear...clear. And then the truck slowed. Then it stopped. Just short of the crosswalk. Surprised? Me?

Traffic here does not stop for pedestrians. Unless they are already directly in front of the vehicle. Sometimes not then either. Almost never is there a "courtesy stop", or even a slowdown. Mostly you stay put well back from the street where you are mostly safe, or you run like crazy. Like crazy and then some. I've seen too many people here missing one or more legs. I run then. I don't want to be like them. Except today.

Go figure — a pickup truck stopping to let me cross an otherwise empty section of street — still a shock. You never know what's going to happen around here. Maybe it's a stain on a sheet of plywood. Maybe it's a stain on a sheet of plywood, and it happens to seem like it has a certain meaning, whatever that might be. You really never know.

But things do happen. They do.

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