Friday, October 06, 2006

October 22, 2005

NOLA 123My first day back on the ERVs. I lost my wonderful laminated map of NOLA, and despite a search of the trucks, can’t turn it up. Went to mention it to J. and she said, “Good luck”. And it’s a good thing, because she said, “Oh, I forgot to put you on the list” for an assignment. Christ. She sleeps right next to me, you’d think she could remember me.
Last night I had a lot of trouble getting through to call K.---the call kept dropping. When I finally got through he didn’t mention any problems on his end. Now I tried again and it’s started all over again. The problem appears to be with my company’s (Cingular’s) receiving end. They are the worst. J., who sleeps next to me, also has Cingular, and I had the same problem trying to call from his phone. Possibly there is work being done on the towers at home, but it’s a lonely feeling.
One of the things M. asked me when I was venting to her was if I had developed any friendships with anyone down here. Sadly, no. I try to get on with everyone, but I just can’t seem to become animated enough to want to hang with anyone. It’s been a problem all my life—not being able to form superficial relationships, easy alliances. I need to get to know someone well before I want to commit. Not a good way to relate in a situation like this. But small talk bores me and I feel awkward and artificial when I make it, even though I know it’s the first step toward establishing a relationship. Plus, it’s hard getting attached to someone as I started to do with J. and R., then seeing them go.
Oh, well. It’s cold and breezy today, just the opposite of yesterday’s hot and humid. I’ve spent as much time down here chilly as I have sweaty. Unexpected.

17th St LeveeLATER (9:20 p.m.): Got in at 7:40 p.m. Had a real problem with my driver, M., who was so over-controlling and obsessive-compulsive, while trying to act as if he wasn’t. Scatter-brained while trying to run everything. A driver is an organizer, someone who oversees the operation, keeps it moving, and pitches in to help when and where needed. The crew should be left to handle the way the back is run. He jumped in, trying to do everything, and not trusting us to do any of it right. We were supposed to have 3 in the back, but lost 1 along the way, so it was me and C., a young Americorps volunteer, and M. It was a difficult day between us. I hope I don’t ride with him again. When we came back to clean the ERV he became really weird, and compulsively clean-freakish about it. When I tried to explain that we (the crew) had already cleaned the shelf on which the cambros sat, as he was about to clean them again, he actually ran his hand over the shelf repeatedly, looking for proof. The whole thing, which usually takes just 10 or 15 minutes, probably stretched out to a half hour. As a result, and with the new unproved protocol (clean the ERV and go back to the yard in the dark to load up on water and snacks) we got back much later than necessary---we unloaded our food at 5:00 p.m.) No matter what I said or did, it rubbed him the wrong way, and he kept saying he didn’t want to step on my toes. C. and I got along wonderfully. She learned fast and knew just what to do though it was only her first day. My conversation with her later made me sure the problem hadn’t been with me. And the more I tried to get him to tell me what he wanted me to do (so he could get his way) the worse things got.
I think this work naturally brings me into contact with men who don’t like to feel women are telling them what to do. I run into this more and more. K. pointed out that I’m not used to working with men who are bossy and maybe that’s why it’s hard for me to get used to this kind of entitlement that they carry around when they are with women.
17th St LeveeOn another note, the area we went into today, Lakeview, was truly a moonscape. Cars lying rear end up against trees, or across fences. People coming back to their houses to see them for the first time. It was a pretty well-to-do neighborhood, and it must have been pretty once. A man cleaning out his house and crying came up to the window of our ERV and spoke to me while sobbing about the ruination of the house. It was heartbreaking. I held his hand, put my hand on his shoulder, and cried with him. We were all in tears. I still can see him.
The doctor I saw was right. This area is in tremendous need. I told W. about it, and he was encouraging.
I feel bad about M. My second run-in with someone since I’ve been here.
I need to stop taking this so seriously.
I need a drink.

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