Tuesday, March 26, 2013

San Diego from New Jersey via New York City!

Great! Just great! How am I going to get my money now? Should I get off the bus, wait for her to get back to the stop with my check? Did she have it with her? I didn’t have her number? I overheard her telling Avon, she was going to go back to the facility after dropping me off. I called the new girl. She didn’t pick up, c’mon, pick up! Pick up! Pick up! She did! I told her to ask the lady if she had my pay check. I called boss, no answer. He’s a lawyer, he was probably in court. Oh man! What am I going to do. I sent boss a text. He called back immediately telling me they would deposit the check into my account. I believed him.
I wasn’t at the bus long, and we drove off! Good bye New Jersey! See you around! I didn’t know what was awaiting me ahead, but I was looking forward to it. I told Perry, I was on my way. He told me he was glad I called, he had overslept. Perry is his own boss, he works from his house office. He never uses the alarm, he wakes up whenever he feels like it. I stayed in touch with him throughout the day. He was up and about trying to make sure everything was in order before I arrived. This is the same guy who told me he needed to get a shovel and start cleaning up the house, two weeks prior. It was a joke, but I don’t know how much of it was based on the truth.  East Coast is 3 hours ahead of the West coast timezone-wise.
I remember as if it were just yesterday, the feeling of entering the city of New York, it was nice and sunny outside. Mid November, beginning of winter, The City was smiling back at me. You know me and my love affair with New York City! It was a good day! I got off at port authority, walked around for a minute, then took the bus to JFK Aiport. It was a drive there. Which meant enjoying the city one last time before I westcoast it. The entire system is very organised, That’s the thing about the US, it’s such a big country and yet very organised. It’s not easy to get lost at all. Take it from me! At the airport, you get off at the entrance closest to the airline you’re flying with. How cool is that? No running up and down OR Tambo international aiport, up and down the elevators and escalators, all to find yourself back at square one (from experience ;) ). I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face :D
It must have been around 11am when I arrived at the airport. My flight was at 4pm. I had ample time to kill. I bought some snacks and sat at the waiting room. Watched some housewives episode (Beverly hills, if you care to know J) I had saved on my PC when I had internet. I was falling asleep due to my busy night the night before. Time flew and before I knew it, it was time to go. I headed for the gate, checked in and AMERICAN AIRLINES KNOWS WHY YOU FLY!  (In my best Ellen de Generes Voice). I sat next to a nice young man who had his hoodie on the entire flight, I have no idea what he looks like. Good thing is, neither does he. I must have fallen asleep as soon as I sat down. I was so tired! It had been a crazy few days. I hope I didn’t snore or fart! The flight was about 7 or 8 hours long.
Perry had warned me that there might be fog and we might have to land in Los Angeles (instead of San Diego) and he might have to pick me up there, or they would arrange a hotel for us and have us fly to SD the next morning. I was open to whatever. That would’ve given me an opportunity to see Los Angeles, be in LAX which I have always wanted to see. Don’t get me wrong, I was looking forward to meeting Perry, I was just keeping an open mind. Don’t judge me, I’m just a girl from Uitenhage, exploring America! No fog, we made to San Diego on schedule. It was around 11pm Eastern time when I arrived and 8pm San Diego time  so to speak (Pacific Time).
As I got off the plane, it dawned on me, I was no longer in New Jersey. Nobody but my family and two friends new where I was. WHAT THE HECK WAS I DOING! I ran to the restroom to freshen up and then turned my phone on. Perry had been waiting for me outside. OH MY GOSH, this is really happening! I hope he’s going to be nice to me! I walked out, called him and told him where I was waiting for him. He drove around to pick me up. I had the hugest smile on my face, you could swear I was just released from prison. Well, I was! I’m in California baby, wHOOOOooooo! I could yell at the top of my voice! There he was! Perry, he looked so handsome in person! Dear Lord, I’m going to live with this man! What is happening right now? He got off the car, “Brook?” Perry! Hi! WE did the awkward hug/handshake thing most people who meet for the first time do. I didn’t care, I was glad he was handsome. Call me Shallow, call me anything, as long as you call me. Maybe?
He had a bunch of red roses in the car for me. EIGHTEEN! Count them! The biggest bunch of roses I ever got! And I have received flowers in my time! I think I remember the first thing I ever said to him was, “I’m here!” His eyes looked more beautiful in person, they are nice and green. He says they are hazel. We drove through the city of San Diego, he showed me around. It was beautiful, there’s part of town called the Gas Lamp, it’s kinda like 7th Street, Melville (where my sister was lucky enough to live for a couple of years), Florida Road in Durban or Long Street in Cape Town. We drove past the bay, etc. We grabbed dinner and took it home with us.
I had already seen pictures of the house online and he had sent me a few of the inside. It looked much nicer in person. It was very brown though, everything inside was brown. We sat on the sofa, had dinner, and talked, then bedtime!

The night before the morning after

I talked with my Jamaican friend and asked her to recommend someone I could use as my replacement. She did. I talked to the lady, who had a very interesting vibe about her. I felt like I was the one looking for a job and she was the boss. Whatever. To cut a long story short, I told my boss I was leaving the Sunday and I was due to fly out the following Wednesday. He seemed shocked that I would want to leave. Trust me, If you were in my shoes, some of you may not have lasted a day in that job. I won’t go into detail.
I told him I had two a few people lined up to take over my job. He wanted to interview them, I gave them the names and numbers. He liked the first one. The interesting one. He was like, ok, Brook, would you like this lady to start tomorrow (Monday). I was like, uhm, no, Wednesday! What the heck! I told him, I was going to leave Wednesday morning. What is this? Was I getting fired AFTER I quit?
As usual, Boss was behind in paying me. He owed me three week’s salary. He promised to bring my cheque (by the way, Cheque in American English is spelt Check) on Wednesday. He was very nice about the whole thing, once he found a replacement he was happy with. The lady was a Jamaican who lived in New York. Boss was going to pick her up from the bus station, and then drop me off wherever I needed to go. Which came in handy because I didn’t really know how I was going to get to the airport.
That's her in the Trash room
My poor suitcase, had been abused so much, it couldn’t take it anymore, one of the tires gave in. I had to get rid of it. I didn’t have enough time to buy luggage online and had it reach me before I left. I was not about to leave my stuff with someone else to hopefully ship it for me later. Oh heyll Naw! I packed everything in boxes, got a ride from a very nice nurse who always offered to give me a ride should I need it, I decided to take her up on it. She dropped me off at the post office. I was going to take a cab on my way back. The drive there didn’t seem that long. I shipped my stuff, it cost me almost $100 (+-R1 000). Perry promised to pay me back all that, which I wasn’t too comfortable about. Having someone pay me back for shipping my own stuff! Apparently, Perry is such a gentleman, he wouldn’t let a woman spend a dime of her own money!
My Stuff. Packed to the Brim
Anyway, whenever I got a chance to go for a walk, I did. I needed it! I was happy to walk back to the facility from the post office. Silly me, what the heck was I thinking! First of all, It was much colder than I imagined. Having been locked up in an airconditioned apartment for weeks, then into an airconditioned car got me fooled. It was freeeezzziiiinngggg! I had leggings on, a short sleeved top and SANDALS! Clearly, I was already in a California State of mind. When I realised how far the place was, I was probably halfway between the facility and the post office. AND I didn’t cave cash with me! I couldn’t take a bus or anything, not that there were any in that deserted road. Everywhere looked more deserted than they probably were after the hurricane. There were trees all over the sidewalks. I decided to call a cab, that’s when I realised that my phone had died! I couldn’t use my GPS to find a shorter walking route, couldn’t do nothing, I HAD TO WALK BACK! I was half frozen! Remember, we had a snow storm in New Jersey just after the hurricane. This was just after the storm. The snow had melted but the temperatures hadn’t improved at all.
View from the balcony
People looked at me like I was weird walking that road dressed like that. Maybe they didn’t but I felt that way. I remember a police car stopping to ask me where I was coming from and where I was going, they probably thought me suspicious. That was before I decided I couldn’t walk there. IF it were after, I would’ve asked them for a ride or to use their phone.
I felt like I was in a horror movie! I didn’t know what was going to happen next. The cars that I saw were going the opposite direction, nothing toward my direction. Crap! What now? I kept walking and walking, the closer I thought I was, the farther I seemed to be. Where the heck is this place! My hands and feet were frozen, and my uhm, lady parts that are protruding? Year those, were like ice balls. The worst thing that could happen to me that day was for me to take the wrong turn.  The more I walked, the more I wondered if I was on the right track. I saw signage with the name of the hospital which is right next to the facility. That gave me hope. Apparently they have an ATM over there. I thought I’d go in there and withdraw some money. I needed to thaw (defrost) more than anything else.
When I got closer to the hospital, I tried to walk towards the main entrance, but the building seemed to move further, the closer I got to it. I was like darn it, I’m not doing this! Five minutes later, I was at the facility. I had never been happier to arrive at that place in my life!

It had got so dark outside, I felt like I was gone for ages. I was frozen. I remember bumping into the boss in the hallway. Someone had told her I was leaving, she wanted to tell me how mad she was at me for leaving. I let her feel my hand, she told me to go stand in front of the fire place. I did. For a moment, I thought I was too cold to feel the heat from the fire but then saw the residents looking me like I was a lunatic. Turned out, the thing was off. Oops. 
I ran upstairs and took a long shower. You know you’re cold when you have a tingling sensation when you come across heat. The last time I had that feeling, which was also my first, was in Georgia, after walking in flooded streets, with snow and it was hailing outside. When I tried to heat my feet up, I could die from that weird tingling feeling. Have you ever had such a thing happen to you? I talked to Perry a little bit on the phone, once I had it charged. Everything seemed so real! My closet was empty, All I had were my laptop bag (heaviest thing you can ever carry, two heavy external hard drives, laptop, and everything else that can fit in it. I wasn’t going to take a chance and ship them, too fragile, and the handbag, filled to the brim J
I had printed my ticket, called American Airlines to confirm everything, I really was leaving the following day. I went to bed around 10pm, pooped! I got up after 11pm frm the worst stomach ache ever! You know when you’re sleeping and you dream that you’re sick and wake up actually sick? Yup, that’s what happened! I was tossing and turning in bed, trying to get my beauty slip. I wanted to enjoy my trip to the West Coast. No such luck! I drank warm water, took , baking soda (bicarbonate of soda),nothing! I was sweating bullets, trying to be as quiet as possible so as not to wake Avon up. The pan pierced through my stomach to my back onto a muscle along the spinal chord. It felt like a bubble that I couldn’t burst. I BBMed my sister who apparently suffers from that kind of condition, long story. She told me to lay on the floor on my back and to do some exercises. Kinda like riding a bicycle? There I was on the floor, sweating like a racehorse, riding an air bicycle in the middle of the night. I would take breaks and sit on the floor right by the corner of the frame of the bathroom door and massage the back muscle with the corner of the thing. The pain would then move to the front, back and forth, back and forth. Gosh!
I texted Perry. He was freaking out. He told me to go to the hospital. I could tell he thought I was having a case of cold feet but was still supportive. Two hours later, I was still on the floor not knowing what the heck to do with myself. I went to the nurse’s station to ask for something. Normally, they don’t give out meds to anybody other than the residents, hence my taking so long to ask. Desperate times! Fortunately, they had the nice big guy that night. He’s so cool. When the residents who can’t walk fall, he picks them up like, it’s they’re lightest thing ever. He’s amazing! Anyway, he told me that sounded like a gas bubble or something else I forgot cos I kinda knew it was gas. I had had a similar pain a few times before whenever I had bread more than two days in a row. That only started while living at the facility. Nothing that serious though, either in the tummy or back, not both at once in the middle of the night before I fly across the country! The nurse gave me two tablets, I was supposed to chew them then drink a glass of water. I did. Twenty minutes later, I was exhausted from tossing and turning, riding air bicycles and all, I went back to bed. I could feel the pain going away slowly. Wwwhhhheeewww!
I must have fallen asleep after 3am. I did send my sister and Perry texts before I dozed off. They were both so nice, they kept me company the entire time. I was up around 5. I was expecting the new lady around 7am, i had to be ready by then. I washed my linen and my sweaty clothes from the night before. Nobody wants to sit next to that smell on the planeJ! I was supposed to be at the bus stop at 9am, They had free shuttles running from New Jersey to New York because public transport wasn’t running as normal (thanks to Miss Hurricane Sandy). No, seriously, thank you! For saving us some money! Who doesn’t want a free ride? Boss’ wife, was a tad bit late dropping the new girl. I was beginning to panic when they showed up. The girl looked friendlier than she sounded over the phone, thank Goodness for small miracles!
Avon hadn’t talked to me the whole morning. She was ignoring me. We introduced the new girl to her. I showed the girl around. When it was time to say my final goodbye to Avon, I found her crying L uncontrollably. That made me sad L What a ride it had been Working for her! I was ready to get the heck out of there and enjoy America, but sad to see her cry. It was hard for me to leave her in that state but I had to rush, else I was going to miss the bus. I punched the address into my GPS, Boss wife took me to “her car” in the parking lot. The doors wouldn’t open. She kept pressing and pressing the remote, turns out, NOPE, WRONG CAR! Hers was a Jeep, she was trying to open a Hyundai or something like that. Hey, they were both white! WE rushed for the bus stop! Luckily, we got there just in time! We had a nice talk on the way there, she told me, if things didn’t work out where i was going, to call her, she would hook me up with a friend of hers. I could help the friend with her mother or somebody. That was nice to hear, it meant they were happy with my work. I had no intentions to go back to the East Coast though, I have always wanted to go to California. I’m an LA girl at heart!

As soon as she drove off, I remembered: MY PAY CHECK!

Hurricane Sandy

November 2012
Perry’s deal was: He had already made his mind up that he wanted me. I hadn’t. He has a three bedroom home, where he lived with his two dogs. I was going to stay in my own bedroom. We’d date until I decided whether or not I liked him like that. Should I decide I didn’t like him, I could move out anytime or stay there until I figured out what to do next, as friends. New Jersey was too far from California. It would’ve been impossible to date living forty hours apart.
Hurricane Sandy hit The East Coast. It was a crazy week. A huge inconvenience! Imagine living in a two storey building with an elevator for people who were wheelchair bound and then having no power! The dining room was downstairs. The nursing station was upstairs. TV room was downstairs. All residents had tv’s in their apartments, but a lot of them hung out in the downstairs tv room. When the power went out, someone was in the elevator. They had to call the people come get her out. They were quick to respond, which was nice. When they got her out, she was more concerned about her glasses she left in the elevator than anything else. Don’t ask me how they left her face! 
The facility did the best they could to make the experience as smooth as possible for the residents. They had the kitchen staff served people on both floors, the nurses did the same, everybody got a couple of torches, the generator lit up the hallway and some of the rooms. The electricity closets (where all the main switches are)  had power, I guess from the generator, there were about two per floor, where we could charge our phones. All the networks were off, towers were hit by Sandy, except Verizon. Few people in the building were with Verizon cos it’s expensive.
After talking to Perry for about a month, about seven hours per day, I decided to take him up on his offer. I didn’t know how to tell my boss and Avon that I was leaving, I postponed it until the very last minute. By the way, Just after Hurricane Sandy hit, we had the national election. I did a radio interview with The number 2 National radio station in South Africa UMHLOBO WENENE. Who of you caught the interview? It was the most fun  I had while living in that facility J. Perry had already bought me my ticket to San Diego.
The stations were closed, I couldn’t take a train from the station close by to New York, where I was going to fly from. The buses were too far, for some reason, I couldn’t get hold of taxi cabs. I suppose they had their own Sandy problems. Two weeks after Sandy, the town was still dead. Some people still didn’t have power. We got ours back within a week If I remember well. We were lucky because we were a bit far from the ocean. Avon made it past Halloween! The predictions were wrong! Three months later, she was still around. Which meant a job for me! Whew!
On receiving my parcel from N who really came through for me. I asked her how much I owed her so I could mail her a money order. The facility, where I stayed and worked was kind of out of the way. It was very far from things, I couldn’t just walk to the bank, And I don’t have a car. She told me not to worry about reimbursing her. I had to, she had spent quite a bit of money on shipping the stuff more than $30 (more than R300). I am not one for freebies. Neither is everybody I have met since I have been here, if you think you’re not paying for something, YOU’RE PAYING! You just don’t know how, yet! I sent her a money order of $50. Just before I did, she told me not to put her name on it, but just Cash. Which meant anybody who received it, could cash it. When I brought that up, she told me,it’s ok, nobody will steal her money order. I shipped it. And texted her to the fact. According to her, SHE NEVER RECEIVED IT! She said the delay must have been caused by the hurricane. I really didn’t need that kind of stress. I had warned her that it was safer having her name on the thing, she was stubborn, when she “didn’t” receive it, it became my problem. I tried to follow up with Western Union. They told me, they could trace it, at a fee of $15 (+-R150) I mean, seriously now! N told me not to worry, she was going to wait, if she didn’t get it, oh well. She had told me to refund her anyway. So basically, I threw all that money away. What do you think happened to the money order?