Saturday, June 10, 2017

Cleaning windows

We had two jobs today, one in Burlingame & one in Millbrae. The Burlingame job went by in a flash. To top it off, the client was nice--never a given. One can seemingly gauge how nice a Burlingame client will be based on how close his or her house is to the super busy boulevard that cuts through town. -the closer, the nicer. Houses around this area, while costing well over a million a pop, aren't super palatial like the digs just up the hill. The last 'up the hill' property we worked on had not only a pool house, a guest house, a small tennis court, but also a detached wine cellar/house. The lady of the compound, in her one interaction with me, said that I had 'forgotten' to clean a window. Actually, I hadn't yet done it, but whatever.

The Millbrae job was at the top of hill near the 280 freeway. The back deck boasted a pretty cool view of SFO, a huge swath of the East Bay, and, of course, the bay itself. The day was unseasonably overcast so the usual view of San Francisco to the north was obscured.

We were met at the door by a very friendly gentleman who, at almost 90 years of age, was not really worse for the wear. His wife, only slightly younger, was on the sofa sleeping. We avoided cleaning the living room until she woke up. At one point both husband and wife were sitting nearby as I cleaned the large, bay windows. I asked the wife how she and her husband met. It was the late 40s & they were set up by a mutual friend. They'd gone to a dance hall. Apparently, she had to teach him how to Foxtrot, Waltz, and Tango. I guess he proved himself to be a decent dancer as they've been together ever since. The husband mostly looked on, smiling, as his wife spoke. He'd occasionally chime in with corrections and additions to the stories. They seemed like a really sweet couple. The subject then switched to travel. She told me she had taken her last plane ride last year. Chronic back trouble makes sitting for long stretches uncomfortable. I asked the wife where she and her husband traveled when she was more mobile. They'd toured Western Europe a couple of times. -Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland. I told her I'd lived in Zurich. That prompted her to mention Munich (as if the two were in the same country). I love Munich, so I asked her how she liked it. They'd taken the train. They'd walked around. -nothing fancy.

But then she told me this: And then a Chinaman sneezed in my face & I was sick for a week.

She then repeated the story to her husband. As in: Do you remember the time when...? I think she said the word 'Chinaman' a total of three times. I was flabbergasted & responded with something lame like: People should really cover their mouths. It was awkward. 

If you have to hear a funky, outdated slur at all, you want that sort of thing to be the punchline to a crap joke told by someone who knows that they are being inappropriate. Then you want to groan, tell the person to STFU and move on.

This woman was serious.



11 comments:

  1. I sort of know what she means though. This is why they have to put up signs there saying, 'No Spitting'.

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    Replies
    1. I'm all for signs. I fucking hate the spitting. I wish telling them not to spit would do anything, but I know it wouldn't. I was waiting for the bus the other day & an older Asian woman spit loudly on one of me while a teenaged punk spit on the other. It was too much.

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  2. Bea, us oldsters usually use the terms we learned as youngsters. We repeated what we heard at home. I must admit I still say crippled for the parking spaces - retarded for the developmentally challenged - I don't even know the terms they use now. Our minds can't find the right words many times. You can't take me anywhere.

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    Replies
    1. I know, Donna, but my grandparents never said that shit & they were a good 15 to 20 years older than these two.

      I'd take you out for coffee, by the way. :D

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    2. Thank you Bea. My children never heard anything racist in my house and are very open and nice to everyone regardless of race and creed.

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    3. Yeah, I didn't hear any icky stuff at home growing up either. All the bad stuff was certainly learned on the playground at school!

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  3. Sigh. Some of the things my father said made me shudder. He had, for a while, a Japanese student. He really liked that student, and invited him to our home often. However, he also referred to him (publicly) as 'cheap Japanese rubbish'. It was a joke, but I didn't laugh.

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    Replies
    1. I wonder what the 'rubbish' bit referred to? Did the student laugh, I wonder?

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    2. At the time there was an influx of cheaply made Japanese consumables - which my father condemned at rubbish. I didn't see the student laugh, but seemed happy to visit with us and work with father. Which is more than I could have managed.

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  4. When I was working retail, there was this older man who used to come into the store all the time. He was nice enough, and we'd have decent interactions. Then one day he had to interact with a newer manager, and he said something to me about the manager. I was taken aback by the racial slur he used (the manager was from the Middle East). Now, the manager was a jerk, but the slur was... It left a bad taste in my mouth. I remained polite to the man, but I never looked at him the same after that.

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    Replies
    1. I hear you. It seems that those 'amongst their own' feel free to say really horrid things. When I was living in LDN, folk would complain about foreigners & I would remind them that I, too, was foreign. 'Oh, but you're different.' Huh. Am I?

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