Friday, May 21, 2010

Shrug your shoulders...

In America, indecision is not good. People hate it and generally take it as a sign of weakness. Unfortunately for me, I'm pretty indecisive. "Amy, do you want cream & sugar in your coffee?". A simple question, right? Well, not really. I mean, what kind of coffee is it, is it good coffee or watery coffee? When you say cream, do you mean actual cream or milk? Sugar or Splenda? Are you going to have any in yours? And on and on.

However, a delightful thing about the Swiss and the French, they do not mind this indecision! I discovered this naturally due to my delayed responses and lack of their language. I had many cups of coffee while there, and when they would ask me (in French of course-but now that I think about it, who knows what they were asking me) what I wanted in my coffee, I would give a shrug. Not only because I didn't know what I wanted, but because even if I had I did not know how to say it.

Try that in a Starbucks over here. Seriously, do. Where they expect you to order drink sizes in Italian (grande, venti, etc) and give them every last detail (soy, foam, kind of milk...). If I shrugged my shoulders in there, I think they would curse at me, because what kind of idiot doesn't even know what she wants in her own coffee! And no disrespect to Starbucks, because I love them.

Across the pond, there was not even the slightest hint of irritation. Usually I even got a smile! A knowing look and subtle nod, saying "yes, dumb american, you are right to trust me. I know exactly how this should taste". And guess what, they were right every time!

It was blissful, an entire country of people who did not mind making decisions for me. "Do you want to buy the scarf too?", shrug, "buy the scarf, you're in Geneva". "Do you want the clams in the risotto", shrug, "have the clams, they're fresh".

In my first visit to France, as a unappreciative 24 year old, I did not get it. I thought the French were bossy. I totally get it, and love it now!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

International Incident...

Bonjour! We just got back from Geneva & Montreux, both located in delightful Switzerland. AMAZING places to visit! They do however require a transatlantic flight, which is a lot of opportunity for gypsy adventures. My husband of course can sleep on planes. I, of course can't. I also have a geriatric "day of the week" pill holder at the age of 33. I take a lot of meds, what can I say?

I thought I had done a very good job of packing the right pills for the plane. While my husband slept, and I resentfully watched him, I decided to go ahead and take my pills. I pry them open and of course they go flying into the air like a rainbow of pharmaceuticals. I am, by some miracle, able to retrieve them all, except for one.

That one folks, was my birth control pill, and I was determined to get it. Heading off to a romantic vacation, I had no intentions of conceiving a swiss baby. Against all odds, I am able to pretzel around in my coach seat and get a visual on the missing pill. It is on the floor, just in front of the man located behind us. He is also awake. Easy! I pop my head over the seat, "Sir, it seems I've...". He stops me. No English. Huh. I popped back down.

At this point, I must involve my sleeping husband. I wake him up, then catch him up on the whole thing, to which I get eye rolling, but as usual he willingly involves himself in my shenanigans. He pops his head over the seat to assess the situation. His response, "Are you sure it's a man?". Well, what? He tells me to look back, because this person has one "man hand" and one "lady/manicured" hand. It's true and I have no explanation for it. There was no in flight performance of "Victor/Victoria". We get to laughing so hard over this we can't even stand it.

Once we recover from discovering the person behind us, harboring my pill, is a transvestite, my husband attempts some form of communication. Same result. The drink cart is coming and I decide to pull the flight attendant into all of this. Thankfully she is game. She tells me this is by far not the weirdest thing she's ever been asked about and gets out a flashlight. She finds the pill, and I'm happy to say we visited and enjoyed the swiss cities & people, still child free!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Guest Blog # 1

Hello all!
Since Amy and Brian are on their Evita-esque “Rainbow Tour” of the European nations until 2013, I have been asked to blog in my sister’s place.

Now I know this blog is called Corporate Gyspy, but for this first blog, I would to like to recall a very non corporate job that I experienced.

We have all had these kinds of jobs. It could have been in your high school or college days, or it could be your present reality. From waiting tables to retail, there is a whole non corporate way of earning money that I find both refreshing and frustrating.

It was my very first official job! I was 17 and fresh out of high school. Feeling confused, I decided to work for a year. College was a vague plan in the back of my mind but I had not really settled on anything. Vague confusion does not tend to lend itself to wonderful life choices.

So anyway I got a job at a dry cleaners. I applied for this job soley because it was near my house. That was pretty much it and I figured I had to start somewhere. Now it was the summer of 1998 and it was HOT.

My job was pressing and cleaning the multitude of men’s dress shirts that we received. There was no AC. There were a few fans in the back of a store front where steam cleaners belched their steam and made everyone sweat and suffer,

In short, it was HOT. HOT. I mean HOT

But, to compensate for all that, I worked with some very interesting people.
Take my manager Jody. She was about 6 months pregnant and smoked all the time. Everyone smoked all the time. Then there was the elderly, ok she was ancient, Miss Emma. She did not smoke but you always had to call her “Miss Emma.” And then you have me, and Tracey.

Tracey and I worked the pressing machines for the men’s dress shirts. There were four of these machines and we each had our individual job tasks. Tracey and I worked together all day. We were together ALL the time. She was a 38 year NYC transplant and I was a 17 year old idiot so, on the surface, we didn’t have a whole lot in common but we got along very well.

During our work time together we covered every topic from the reign of Cleopatra to rap music of the early 1990’s, and I still cherish all the “Tracey Sayings” that I received.

Tracey on Native American Culture: “Peace pipe/Crack pipe SAME difference.”

Tracey on smoking: “I am pretty sure tobacco is a vegetable.”

Tracey on her boyfriend: “He says he has ‘needs.’ I tell him that he NEEDS to work that on out.”

Tracey on our boss: “He has the nose of a drunk.”

For some reason Thursday afternoons was our slow time. That was when we had “Fashion Show!”

This entailed all the employees wearing the dry cleaned clothes and walking through the length of the store in their favorite outfits. It was our catwalk. I know this was wrong but seeing Miss Emma strut her stuff in some expensive dress, that we would then put on a hanger and hand off to a paying customer, seemed fun and daring.

My favorite part of the day though, was the late afternoon. Most of the work was done, there were little odds and ends to deal with but no pressure. All the ladies, and myself, would sit on the boxes of hangers in the back of the store, making a weird perch. They would light up their cigarettes and blow thin blue smoke in the direction of the freshly laundered clothes.

I still remember the smell and color of their cigarette smoke, diffused through the light of the front store windows, making odd colors and shapes, leading and drifting to some place, some where else.