The latest chapter in the ongoing story of furnishing and equipping the new apartment occurred Tuesday and Wednesday of last week. On Tuesday morning I took a taxi over to Hay Salam, the neighborhood I referred to in the last Perspectives. I am gradually getting into a normal routine of drinking coffee on a regular basis there from about nine to ten in the morning. After finishing my coffee with Abdesalam, his son Tarik arrived and the two of us went to shop for some wood to construct kitchen shelves for our pantry.
By foot we traveled about eight or ten blocks where a friend of Tarik’s joined us. He works in a shop where various types of furniture are made. He took us to a vendor a few more blocks away and we found a partial sheet of plywood available, and large enough that all the shelves could be cut from it. The friend carried the piece of plywood for us to a shop with a large band-saw. For ten dirhams ($1.25) the shop cut planks of appropriate dimensions for the shelves. We now had the boards, but were about five or six miles from the apartment. The recurring problem of transportation raised its ugly head once again.
Tarik stopped a Petit Taxi and the driver thought the five boards could be carried on the luggage rack on top. However, the boards were longer than the rack, meaning that loose boards were resting on the carrier, with just one end below the top of the frame. It looked like a mishap waiting to happen but I deferred to the driver, thinking that he should know better than I whether or not he could manage the task.
Regrettably, he had missed physics class the day centrifugal force was discussed and as we went around a large round-point almost in front of the king’s palace, he accelerated a bit too soon as he started down the avenue after making a left turn. Two boards flew off the taxi onto the street causing something of a commotion.
We stopped and Tarik retrieved the boards, and the driver decided that perhaps he could put them in the trunk. He did manage that, sort of, but the trunk lid would not close. There was no rope, string or bungee cords to be found inside the car or in the trunk, so the driver searched for another solution.
A group of eight or nine boys, about 12 to 14 years of age were passing by, had been amused by the flying boards, I think, and stopped to watch what would happen. The boys had a couple of soccer balls and one of them was carrying a pair of soccer warm-up pants. He had obviously taken off the sweats in favor of the uniform shorts he was currently wearing. Somehow, the driver persuaded him to sacrifice the drawstring in his sweatpants so that it could be used to tie down the trunk. It worked and we made it to the house without further incident. I did give the driver an extra ten dirhams for creativity. I don’t know if the kid got anything for his drawstring.
That same day, Marjane, the big box store where Denise had purchased a new mattress, promised to deliver the purchase on Wednesday. Given Denise’s back condition, we place a high priority on having a high quality, comfortable bed for her. We settled on one that is 180 X 200 centimeters, essentially between queen and king size mattresses as sold in the states. As promised, the deliveryman telephoned when he neared the house Wednesday morning and I went down to the street to meet him. I was quite surprised when I realized he had come alone. In earlier days I have helped wrestle king-sized mattresses up and down one flight of stairs; three flights of that kind of effort is merely a memory for me. The driver asked if we lived on the “primere etage” or ground floor; I thought he might cry when I told him the “troisieme.”
I have mentioned we live on a busy street with lots of different kinds of activity and there happened to be a teenage boy, maybe 16 or 17 years of age passing by. He was pushing a cart on which he carried a number of pre-cut and sanded pieces of wood. Evidently, he was on his way to work at one of the shops near our apartment where furniture is made. The driver of the truck asked him for assistance in getting the bed upstairs. He agreed but needed someone to watch his cart and wood while he was gone. Fortunately, by that time Denise had come downstairs and assumed sentry duty.
I then had to precede them up the staircase to point out the right apartment and unlock the door. They made it and placed the bed where requested. I gave each of them a 20 dirham tip ($2.50) and they seemed more than happy. However, when the teenager returned to his cart, Denise wasn’t sure I had given him anything and presented another 20 dirham bill to him. She said seeing the twinkle in his eye and the smile on his face was worth at least that much. For a worker who probably makes at most fifty dirhams a day, a forty dirham payment for fifteen minutes of work meant he had already had a very good morning.
I used the word saga in the title in the informal sense, one dictionary defining it as “a series of events or a story stretching over a long period”. I am uncertain if the “apartment story” justifies that description, but it would appear that it might be a while before it ends.