Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

The Kindness of Strangers

Things have started off well in Pensacola. My second day in town, I made it to church, and discovered that the church is involved with gathering food for the poor, something I like doing, too. They are also celebrating the church in Jerusalem and the Middle East on Palm Sunday, which I find a sort of fortuitous omen, since here I am, coming in from the Middle East.

Monday, we bought the house. We really did buy it, even though it was me signing the papers. Now that I think of it, that’s the way it has been with just about every house we have bought – I have gone ahead to sign the papers and AdventureMan has followed later . . .

The previous owner of the house did some really kind, really generous things. He left a screen for the fireplace that is sort of Art Nouveau, my favorite period, and I really like it. It sounds like a small thing, but he put a full roll of toilet paper in every bathroom. He left all the instruction manuals for all the appliances, and left notes on the remotes, explaining which was which. I found all of this very kind, unexpectedly kind, and generous of spirit.

The contractors who are going to rewire and then restore the house are contractor nerds. You do know how much I like nerds, don’t you? Nerds are people who are probably ‘uncool’ because they have a fascination with something, and don’t care what you think about it. One of these guys is an electrician nerd, and the other is a general contractor nerd, and once they start talking, I (the customer) am almost irrelevant. These guys have listened to what I want, they know what I need, they have asked all the right questions, and then the two of them start talking in their own language (contractor language; it’s English but barely intelligible to folk like me) and they are trying as hard as they can to get AdventureMan and Qatteri Cat and me into the house as soon as possible. These are honest guys, who love the work they are doing, and I feel so blessed to have them in my life.

In fact, I met my realtor because she is married to the contractor guy. I found him on the internet when I needed some work done on my other Pensacola house. He had a valid license, and no complaints. When I interviewed him, my son and husband were also present, and we all agreed, some how we had lucked out. This man was straight forward, and honest. When he told us how much it would cost, we gulped, but he got all the work done on time, and on budget. How cool is that?

His wife spent hours and days and weeks with us, showing us huge numbers of houses, from the amazing to the disgusting. She said she would find the right house for us, and – she did! It is close to our son and his wife without being too close, it is close to church, close to shopping and not far at all from the glorious Pensacola beaches. Woo HOOO on her!

Yesterday, I bought the Rav4. It was so boring, so uneventful, I totally loved it. Who needs new car drama? The car is enough, I don’t want drama! These people were so good to me – they arranged for me to drop my car off near their dealership, which is about an hour from Pensacola (YES! YES, I would drive an hour for the kind of service I got – I got the car I wanted at almost the exact price I was willing to pay) and they picked me up, went through all the formalities, did not try to stick me with any extra charges, in fact I ended up paying $6 less than I thought. They demo’d the new features, handed me the keys and sent me off with a full tank of gas. It was a great way to buy a car, and I love my new car.

Today, I needed to buy book cases. The one rule of moving in is that it goes smoothly IF you have places to put things, which in our case means book cases. I use them for books, yes, but also for fabric storage, sometimes to display photos, sometimes to divide rooms, or to store sweaters and underclothes and things I want to be able to see where they are.

I knew where I had seem book cases at an amazing price, but they didn’t have six in the finish (maple) that I wanted, so a kind woman working there checked local inventories and sent me off to the next store, where they found the six, loaded them on a trolley and a strong young man loaded them into my car. When I tried to tip him, he gasped and pulled back and said “No! No! I’m not allowed to accept tips! I could get FIRED if I took a tip!”

This is not what I am used to!

All in all, people have been amazingly kind, and it seems to happen a lot.

There is one very funny thing I notice about myself, now four days in Pensacola. That is, I cannot go into a grocery store and come out with just what I went in for. The prices here are so GOOD! I keep thinking in Kuwaiti Dinars, or Qatari Riyals, and I think “I might never see tuna fish at that price again!” or “Look at the price on those eggs!” and even though the RATIONAL part of my brain keeps saying “Wait! Wait! You’re in the United States now!” the reality has not yet permeated my buying mode enough to restrain me. I have zero sales resistance. I really just need to stay out of the stores until I can build some resistance up.

At the end of every day I get to come home to my son and his wife and their little baby son, and life is sweet, except that we all wish AdventureMan would hurry and come and join us. And bring the Qateri Cat!

March 24, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Bureaucracy, Character, Civility, Community, Cross Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Florida, Food, Generational, Living Conditions, Marriage, Qatteri Cat, Shopping, Social Issues, Values, Work Related Issues | 5 Comments