Friday, March 07, 2008

Surreality

I have these moments, very infrequently, where I will be in the middle of what is most likely a very normal situation and suddenly have a momentary glimpse of what I’m doing and where I am and think, How did THIS happen? Not exactly an out-of-body experience, though that would be interesting. It’s more of a combination of wonder and usually appreciation, though occasionally mixed with annoyance, depending on the circumstances.

I have one about a week or so ago, when i went out early in the morning to grab a loaf of bread from our local newsstand because I had forgotten my list at the grocery store the day before. It’s was early, about 7 a.m. and quiet. Quiet except for the swishing sound of young men washing cars. Out where we live, in our compound and the neighborhood nearby, some of our neighbors employ men whose job it is to take care of “stuff.” And one job they have is to wash the cars on a daily basis. Not a simple bucket and sponge scenario, but a hose attached to a broom and loads of soap and water. Every day. Can you imagine how much water they are using? Not only is it environmentally criminal, but with the cost of house and garden water rising constantly, it must be obscenely expensive. Let’s just say I don’t see them using “grey” water or a tank of rainwater they’ve collected. Different strokes for different folks.

And I thought, for just a moment, How did a little girl who grew up in a small town in the middle of nowhere, where we used to wash our big ‘ol station wagon in the driveway once in a while when we wanted extra allowance go from there to a place where our neighbors have staff who wash their multiple cars every day??

I remembered a time last year when the kids noticed the daily car washing of our neighbor and I used it as a math lesson. They both thought this would be a great job and we tried to figure out how much money they would earn if they washed cars all day and charged what they charge at our local tire garage/oto yikama (car wash). The predicted salary we calculated, to them, sounded like a fantastic wage. I decided not to ruin their dream with the harsh reality of adult perspective.

This feeling of surreality (I do realize that this is not a real word but sums up nicely what I’m feeling at the moment) has continued with a quick trip to Dubai, where I am at the moment. I trailed along with Matt on a business trip at the last moment. IFC has this nice benefit where Matt earns “spouse points” for every night he’s away from home on business. Once he’s collected enough spouse points, he can trade up for a better spouse. No, just kidding. Once he’s collected enough points, I’m allowed to go along for the ride. Or, as I sometimes think of it, once the spouse has had enough of the draining, frustrating, mind-numbing job of being a single parent while the other spouse is away and is just on the edge of losing it, along comes a free business class trip ticket to salve your open oozing wounds. I think you have to earn 200 points, which translates to 40 weeks away from home. Oy!

So here I am in Dubai which, to me, looks like a cross between a enormous construction site, a movie set and Disney World. In the middle of the desert there’s a ski slope, large swaths of green, and intricately shaped man-made islands full of luxury villas, the scope of which I could have never imagined. The place literally oozes money. Luckily, one of my pals from Istanbul moved here last year so I am balancing the bizarre with a great big healthy dose of catching up with a good friend.

And, I have to admit, with the sun shining, no one to worry about but myself, and wait staff scurrying nearby to bring me a drink by the pool at the slightest glimpse in their direction, I appreciate this brief dip into surreality.

4 comments:

Debra said...

Hi Jennifer,

Loved this piece as usual and I sooo agree with you. It happens to me when I see all of the city (the 'bul!)lit up like a Christmas tree even in the middle of the night (great views from our window) and then think of us in Devon obsessing about who left the TV on standby and whether we should disconnect the clock display on the microwave. A horrible 'what's the point?' moment rushes over me and then I go back to washing tin foil that cannot be recycled here. I was amazed to see you got a comment from my teacher Jan on your last entry - so cool (you can tell I'm a newby blogger who thinks its all amazing!)

Debra said...

Hi Jennifer,

Loved this piece as usual and I sooo agree with you. It happens to me when I see all of the city (the 'bul!)lit up like a Christmas tree even in the middle of the night (great views from our window) and then think of us in Devon obsessing about who left the TV on standby and whether we should disconnect the clock display on the microwave. A horrible 'what's the point?' moment rushes over me and then I go back to washing tin foil that cannot be recycled here. I was amazed to see you got a comment from my teacher Jan on your last entry - so cool (you can tell I'm a newby blogger who thinks its all amazing!)

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Anonymous said...

Hi Jen! Heehee about the spouse points. I bet that's what Martin thinks they are. I think he's saving his up. Actually, you need 200 points for the first trip and then 300 (!!) points for every trip after that. Ridiculous. - Becky