Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Out of money

On the seventh day I ran out of money and I had only my reserve for a bus going back to New York and for my air ticket to fly home. I did not want to return home empty-handed and indebted to my father. I would have to quit school to pay him back, although I know he would probably refuse and prolong the repayment date until I finished school.

But because I was proud, and I did not really want to study at college, but rather to find a job and earn money, I would have felt obliged to return it to him as soon as possible. I was losing hope and I was afraid my mission to earn money and return home would be lost. I had to find a job quickly and I refused to return home empty-handed. My friend Peter had found job already, so I asked him to loan me a hundred dollars to give me more time to find a job. Then I started to search for jobs in Delaware as well.

As I was waiting for a bus to come, I was sitting on a sidewalk, and I was desperate. Then I noticed two guys with shaved heads, gold necklaces and tattoos approaching me. Guys like those could be dangerous. One of them asked me "What's up?" and I did not recognize at that time it was a greeting.

I jumped to my feet and took fighting stance so that they won't kick me while I am on the ground. I was desperate and I certainly did not want to be beaten. But their reaction shocked me. They stopped and went in a circle around me telling me to chill out. I thought "What strange bullies." There certainly are some common English phrases which were not taught at school.

On the tenth day I found a job at McDonald’s in Delaware. I was happy. I didn’t have to return home empty-handed. I made some calculations that having one job would allow me to pay back all my travel costs, but to earn something for myself, I would have to find another job. Soon I bought a bike to save money by not needing to pay for the daily bus trip to Delaware. A bus runs on money, but a bike runs on fat!

Going to work took me one hour there and one hour back. It is good to go by bike if it is not too hot or if the rain is not too strong. The job at McDonald’s was good. The only thing I could not understand was the throwing away of good food. If no one saw me, I did not throw it in the garbage bin, but directly into my stomach. That was environmentally friendlier than throwing it away. Some rules are stupid.

Lesson learned: Don’t obey stupid rules if you can get away with it.

Two interesting events happened to me at McDonalds. First was that one guy was called Jesus. For twenty-two years I thought that the only Jesus in the world was Jesus Christ, but then there is one smiling Puerto Rican guy and he calls himself Jesus. How strange! I thought nobody was allowed to have God's name.

The second surprise was when I was sent to the fridge for hamburger meat. I searched through the whole fridge room, but I could not find any meat. "Is the manager making fun of me or what?" I returned to the manager and told him there is no meat. He smiled, took me to the fridge and showed me packs of "plastic circles".

After that I saw how those "plastic circles" are put on the grill and transformed to hamburger meat by heat. “Sci-fi and ’junk food" in real-time,” I thought. Hey, Americans, you deserve better food!

After few days I found my second job at Subway, and finally fresh and healthy food was again on the menu. This is how I met Mark , who was a cool guy. He was the first real gay person I met face to face in my life. Before that I saw gays only on TV.

As I was using bike to get to work at Subway, I had to change my clothes each time I came to the workplace. I was used to getting naked in front of other men at kickboxing dressing rooms. To be precise, I kept on my underpants in the Subway backroom when switching to my uniform. After few times, as Mark saw me, he told me "Andrew, don't do this to me."

As I did not understand his point I asked him, “What do you mean? I am just changing my clothes, I am doing nothing. It is just two of us there and we are both men. What is wrong with changing clothes in front of another man?”

He probably understood and asked me if we had gay people in Slovakia. I said quickly, "Of course we do". Then I started to think about that I didn’t know any gay people back home. Of course, I have read about them and probably I have met some on the streets, but I never had met someone who had told me that he was gay. After some explanation, we agreed that I would tell him in advance when I was going to change clothes, so that he could leave the room.

Mark was funny and a cool guy, and the work was satisfying. There were a few guys working for him. One of them was a smart guy of Japanese origins who also was called Andrew. It was fun to work and talk with him. I liked him. He even took me to his house to have dinner with his family.
They were nice people.

During the dinner, Andrew's mother asked me why foreigners do not like Americans and why do Americans have a bad reputation all over the world when all they do was to help people to get freedom, peace and to help poor countries by sending food and medical equipment. I told her my opinions about that, and that I didn’t like the American government to invade other countries. They (the elite) did it not to help, but to get cheap oil and other resources, or to enforce using the US dollar
for payments. I thought everybody knew that because it was so obvious.

She told me she was not buying this and I told her it was alright, because I was not selling it. Her
husband had to interact to calm her down and we had a pleasant dinner again. We were good colleagues at Subway. Sometimes my American colleagues asked me to stop working as I was working the whole the time I was there. That's what I was being paid for.

Make yourself busy all the time and if everything is done, clean and clean again was what I had been taught when working in Slovakia. So after everything was ready I cleaned the already clean floor and Andrew asked me to stop. I asked him "Why should I? Am I doing something wrong?" He explained that I was doing a good job, but they felt bad when they saw me working nonstop while they were resting. We agreed that when everything is done, we would chill out and rest.

There is no sense in being busy when work is done and the boss is not around. There is another funny story about my school and American English. Once we were busy at Subway, but I really needed to pee. There were customers, who were not served yet, but I really had to go, so I asked Andrew, who was younger than me, but since he had worked there longer " Can I go to the toilette?" The fun began when he asked me, “And do you know how?” I pulled a surprised stupid face and asked "What do you mean? Everybody knows how." I hoped Andrew was not stupid enough to think we did not have toilets in Europe. It was O.K. in America not to know that Slovakia was in Europe and Europe was on the other side of the ocean. It was O.K.

to think that I was Russian even when I tell you I was Slovakian. But to think that a twenty-two year old guy did not know how to use the toilet was shameful. After a quick discussion I learned the right phrase — use the bathroom. It was strange to me at that time as there was neither a bath nor a shower in the room, but even many Slovak phrases often do not make sense, either. For example, the word "teplĂ˝" means warm generally, but when speaking about a male person, it means gay. Every living human is warm, so we could think that everybody who is alive is gay. It is funny to learn foreign languages.

At McDonald’s there was not much to do as I had only a few shifts, so I started to look for another job. One of my roommates found a job at The Seacrets Club as a security guard. The pay was good and it was night job. It suited me, because I could keep also my Subway job during the day. We really  were just the security personnel, not real bouncers. There were only few fights during my stay.

There were approximately twelve of us because the Seacrets Club was huge. Work was quite boring since most communication meant telling drunken people where the restrooms were. This was the job when you were positioned inside the club. More interesting were the entrances and exits as you had to check people for guns or knives, and check their dress code. Also, the questions we were asked were different. There were also ”floaters" who came when there was a fight and the stationary security staff called them over the radio.
... more in the book

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