It’s one o’clock in the afternoon and I feel like I’ve done a full day and a half already. Not helped at all by the fact that Lori, whom I’ve had the delightful company of for just a little over 30 minutes, has taken the opportunity to inform me of several of my inadequacies, including:
- A reminder of the things I actually don’t achieve (like printing off her sticker chart)
- A referral to the fact that in the past people didn’t have dishwashers
- I’m still smarting from the question, if you actually cleaned solidly for three hours, would you be able to do as good a job as the cleaner?
- And furthermore, if you had a full week (including no-one at home for the weeks entirety), would you manage to properly clean the whole house?
- After some discussion, where I attempted to negotiate my worth: picking up smelly socks, making soup, helping with homework, chauffeuring etc., she conceded that I probably require a clone for all the work that’s needed here. Mmm not quite sure how to take that.
All this after her phone call, where on my answering she said, (and I do quote), “I can see into the future, and I see that you will be coming to pick me up from school.”
“I have to wait half an hour for the bus…”
“Well, just wait in school, I have to pick your sister up from nursery.”
“Uh, but it’s hot and I don’t have anything left to drink,” she moaned.
32 degrees in the shade. I sighed. Her prediction, became an accurate one.
Today has just been one of those days.
This morning I had to drive into town, to pick up a prescription. I have to do this once a month. Ordinarily, I avoid that part of town. It’s horrendous to park, and really, for one piece of paper, I can lose up to an hour of my morning. Bad enough, but considering that, in general, I only have three free hours a day, it’s a third of the time that I have to do all of my necessities.
To top that I had to drive. And today, I discovered to be a Friday in terms of traffic. All of the people who should not have a licence, were out to play. And to terrorise me.
The madness began on my way past the petrol station. A woman exited onto the main road, but unable to turn her matchbox sized car (okay, perhaps a Clio) into the main road, she swept around onto the other side. Being my side. The petrol station is not far from my house, so I panicked, thinking, crap! I’m driving on the wrong side again! I started to swerve to the other side. But she came right at me! It’s not fair. You just shouldn’t do that to a foreigner. I had no idea which side of the road was actually the right side any more. Better than an espresso for waking me up though.
Radio singing, I drove on.
As if the heat crazed drivers were not enough, I also encountered many demented cyclists.
I don’t like cyclists. Well, it’s not that I don’t like them per se. But they really freak me out on the roads. I’m terrified of knocking one down. Especially in my bus-like vehicle. Wouldn’t stand a chance. And they are everywhere. They sneak up the side of me when I’m concentrating at the lights. They loiter along curvy roads. And they hardly ever wear a helmet, at least not here.
Today, I did truthfully see someone wearing a helmet, though. Not a cyclist, of course. But it’s really worth a mention because after six years in Germany, I have, today, for the very first time seen a builder with a safety hat on. Having said that, he appeared to be a roofer. On the top of a six storey building, roofing away. Though I must admit, if he did have a nasty accident, I don’t think that a hard hat would serve much purpose. Ow! One of those moments, I’m sitting at the red light, looking up at him, balancing on a roof beam, hammering away with his little hat on. Whispering, “Please don’t fall!” under my breath, and flinching ,”If you do fall though, please fall after I have driven on, I really don’t want to see it.” Then, ” Why do you have a hard hat, but no scaffolding?”
The red light turned to green and I continued my journey.
Subsequently, I came face to face with today’s death-defying cyclist, who had decided to cross the street at the traffic lights. But not at the traffic lights. Rather, about two metres in front of them. Said traffic lights showed the pedestrian crossing to be red and the drivers lane, green. In a move only explicable to herself, the rider idly snaked ACROSS the main road in front of the ongoing traffic, bringing everyone to a standstill. I shook my head. Fist shaking is strictly forbidden. Road rage equals a hefty fine in this part of the world.
Each time I drive my minibus sized car, I realise that many people have no perception of their own size. Or at least that of their car. On a regular basis I am almost shoved onto the pavement by an oncoming car. I am on my own side of the road. I see the line. But they are, at least partly, on my side too. Mostly these drivers are driving tiny little cars, and have a metre space to their curb. I would love to ‘dodge’ them to their own lane. But find myself protecting my own car. Although, it’s true to say I have found myself forced against bushes on several occasions.
I am starting to believe road rage could be an asset. If it were to be allowed.
Upward and onward to the doctor’s office. No parking is permitted in the vicinity, so I had to park several streets away. The heat bore down as I walked the distance, entered the building and climbed the stairs. The receptionist had her glass door shut. There’s a sign but I’m not sure exactly what it said. I presumed to knock. Did so. And entered. Only to be ushered out. On the phone. Someone’s making an appointment. I’m expected to stand in the hall and wait until she’s finally ready for me. Discretion for another patients mother. Problem is, she is not discreet. Her loud voice carried through the glass door. I heard every word of the conversation. I waited politely. But I felt impatient. Impatient because I had to collect the damn thing in the first place.
More than that, I’m annoyed. By the whole service in general. I’m only allowed to collect a prescription a few days before the current one runs out. I see it as an issue of trust. As in, they don’t trust me. Or no doubt, parents in general. I wouldn’t even mind so much, were the practice more accessible. Not just in terms of parking. But in calling too. Often the phone line is unmanned or engaged. Plus the doctor’s office closes at various times of the year for holidays.
Over and above, however, there’s a general lack of support: for the family and my “severe ADHD” son. No groups. No referrals. The one place where I would truly expect to be understood, I find myself repeatedly feeling downtrodden.
It’s presumed I’ll go there practically once a month, show his insurance card and they hand over a prescription for Ritalin.
Then head off to the chemist where it’s never in stock. Forcing me to return, once the order is there, and collect it.
I sometimes wonder if I impart the impression that I have all the time in the world. Nothing better to do.
Like when I’m in the supermarket with four kids. I’ve been there for two hours and I’m thoroughly enjoying loading the checkout with my own personal mountain of food. And a stranger who’s just nipped in for a couple of things, asks, can I just slip in front of you? I want to shout, “Of course, because I would like to stay here for a bit longer!!!” But instead, I grit my teeth and allow them through.
So, in my three-hour slot this morning, what did I manage to achieve? I dropped Akasha at nursery. Tidied a little. I went to the doctor, shopped two minutes for a child’s birthday present. Then to the bank, where I couldn’t remember my pin number. So I did an about turn and headed off to the chemist, of course, no Ritalin in stock. I hung out three loads of washing. Picked up my pin number and returned to the bank. Phone call. Pick up Lori. Back to nursery on the way home. Productive? Debatable!