Saturday, December 15, 2012

What a Strange, Strange Day

Yesterday I had a job that was bizarre from start to finish. I was asked to test an apartment in Tudor Village for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). If you can believe this, the people who request VOC testing are even crazier than those I meet for mold testing. Residents demand this sort of test when they are certain that they smell some sort of chemical odor (of course I have yet to perform this test where anyone other than the resident could smell anything). The concerned tenants are convinced said odor is toxic and will kill them. In one case, I met a woman who described in great detail all the reasons she believed her neighbors were purposely trying to poison her. That's a whole other story to be shared at some point. Anyway, I have performed roughly twenty VOC tests during my career and have not once found anything of concern. This particularly investigation involves three separate tales of strange:
Zip up your space suit and buckle on that helmet, things are about to get weird
Tale of Strange Part I
VOC sampling involves large, awkward metal canisters. When I have to haul these puppies around the city, people always stare. The canisters are suspicious looking and give me some terrorist vibes. I hopped on the 1 train at 28th hauling this embarrassing equipment and an old woman grabs my attention. She asks me whether I'm pregnant and if I needed her seat. First of all, unless a woman is clearly about to pop, you do not ask if she is pregnant. No. Just no. Everybody knows (or should know) this question is a serious social faux pas. But more importantly, DO I LOOK PREGNANT?!?!? I do not consider myself as having a prego bod. I kickbox, zumba, and do pilates each at least once a week. Clearly I need to start going more often. Oh man, I just googled pregnant women and am starting to hyperventilate a little bit. They just are SO BIG! It looks really uncomfortable! Why is nature so cruel? Aghh!

The pregnancy question is an especially sore subject for me, because about a year ago I was also asked this two or three times within a span of a few weeks. I swear, I've worn the same pant size since seventh grade. I do not go around with a pained expression on my face and my hands supporting my lower back shouting, "where the hell are my pickles and ice cream?!?". I was doing my best to appear normal and not pregnant. My friend who shall be known as Denile Daboo tells me I have an awkward posture that may make people think I'm pregnant. Ugh, I know I have weak back muscles. I'm working on them, 'kay??
If I WAS pregnant, I promise I would not post photos of myself and my baby daddy like this
Or this
My response to the woman was, "Ummm... No. Or at least I hope not..." She defended her question with something like, "No, I'm serious. I always like to ask, just in case. Because, you know, a MAN would never ask. OR get up for you". Interesting. I consider myself a hardcore feminist but that was way extreme even for my standards! I'm guessing she must be some bra-burning, second wave feminist, although does this woman really ask every female on the subway if she's pregnant? I find that difficult to believe...
Here's an idea, let's castrate all the men! I'm serious. Never again would I be asked if I was pregnant!
Tale of Strange Part II
After this exchange, I move further into the train car. A bunch of people had made eyes with me to silently laugh (or smize à la Tyra Banks) about the absurd situation. One of them leaned in and whispered to me, "You don't look pregnant. She must have noticed your glow". Our conversation continued on from there and was particularly interesting because this person was from Australia. Red Coats are a dime a dozen in this city, but I have rarely ever met an Australian. Pretty much everything I know about Australia can be summed up by Men At Work's "I Come from a Land Down Under":
My one burning question - do Australians really eat vegemite? Okay, my second burning question - what is vegemite??
This person seemed rather interesting and we made plans to reconvene Friday night. WHICH THIS NAMELESS INDIVIDUAL FLAKED OUT ON (yeah, I'm calling you out :p). 

Tale of Strange Part III
Finally, I arrive at the job site. The apartment's resident is Italian. Very Italian. As in a flirty old man with rather limited English skills.
He was what I imagine Chef Boyardee to be like, just minus a couple of teeth
Despite his lack of English skills, this man was quite a talker. At one point he says something that I don't quite understand and I just nod and smile in response. Then he goes to the fridge and I hear him say "arancia" (orange in italian). I got all excited thinking that he was about to serve me that San Pellegrino knock-off of Orangina. He steps away from the fridge with a bottle of Tropicana. 
HEY! I'm eating for two here and my raging hormones require aranciata! STAT!
So even though I did not particularly want a glass of orange juice, I was stuck drinking it. While sipping, or I guess gulping–the man tells me to, "Slow down! Relax! You Americans do everything too fast!"–he then proceeds to discuss Italy's relationship with orange juice. Allegedly,  the world's best oranges are grown in Sicily, although it is rare to find real orange juice in Italy. If you do find it, the juice is very expensive. According to him, the Italian mafia owns all of the country's orange groves. Whenever anybody attempts to produce orange juice, the mafia quickly "teaches" them to find a new line of business. And now you know. #Learning! Should I have been honored by his gift of such a delicacy?
Tale of Strange Epilogue: Appreciate the little things in life while you can. Like orange juice. Because you never know when the mob is gonna ruin it for everybody.

Photo credits:, DC Comics: Strange Adventures, phem.or, Men at Work, Chef Boyardee, San Pelligrino, The Simpsons

1 comment:

  1. You are so adorable! <3 I'm sorry we didn't get our date on! You'll have to come visit me :P XOXO