Joking around with the Colombian cleaning crew in Spanish, I asked them if they’d heard of Juan Valdez. One said no. But the other said sí, then vividly described Valdez, his job picking café, his burro, and his bigote. He got a serious look on his face and postulated that Valdez was muerto. ¿No? [Update]
Yesterday my boss took off for his one vacation this year, to South Africa. Upon arrival, he was denied entry – in spite of holding a valid U.S. passport – because the authorities there have so many stamps to stamp in a passport, that they need at least one full empty page in which to put them, and he did not have the space, as his passport is 10 years old and has already been stamped a lot. They offered him a night in the Cape Town jail or a seat on the next flight back to Amsterdam. He called me from Schiphol airport this afternoon, in distress.
The crux of my job is meeting jet-lagged Americans and taking them to their apartment rentals. Most are great, and it’s fun meeting strange new people almost every day. Since my boss was supposed to be in South Africa, he asked me to take a certain client around to show her some apartment options, since she and her husband are repeat customers and they are looking for a place they can rent for one week a month. This woman bitches about everything – to the point of surreality – but her biggest complaint is French food. She told me that if she saw another piece of fois gras, she was “going to puke.” Then, standing across from the Châtelet metro stop this morning she leaned into me, and in a hushed, yet forceful tone, she said: “You know what I want? I want to go home and go to a fucking Cracker Barrel.”