Right before David left Israel, I got a job in the factory where Klik chocolates and Bagel-Bagel pretzels are made. Of course my job was to clean the toilets and the employee locker rooms. After David returned to Toronto to have surgery on his bleeding abscess, we used to talk on the phone every night. I would get a break around sunset and another around 2200 hrs. My cellphone company had offered me a package that included unlimited calling to USA and Canada. Boy, did David and I use that plan! Thank-you, Hashem.
David was homeless in Toronto. He would move daily between couch-surfing, sleeping in the park, getting a voucher for a sleazy hotel, and an occasional shelter. He couldn’t physically stay overnight in a shelter because of his PTSD. He would be unable to sleep because he believed people were trying to knife him. As you can well imagine, this period of homelessness almost made him become like an animal. It was always a shock to me when he would have a PTSD panic attack while he was on the phone with me because he would narrate what he was experiencing and feeling, without realizing what he was doing. I wish I could have tape recorded some of those calls. It was the only way I could get any sense of what it means to live with PTSD. Despite my own grief that he had left me, I tried desperately to keep him cheerful; and during this time I did learn (through trial and error) a few methods to distract him that are successful.
So here is the memory…
One of my duties was to clean an employee restroom in the pretzel factory every evening. To get to that bathroom, I had to walk through the kosher pretzel factory. I loved seeing the secret pretzel machinery in operation, to watch the dough being cut – sometimes into sticks and sometimes into bows. It was beautiful. And everything was kosher! I promise you first hand that the Bagel-Bagel factory was the cleanest food preparation center that you can imagine, and I wasn’t responsible for that. They only assigned me one restroom.
My restroom had a huge front room with two sinks, a garbage area, and a long counter; two stalls, each with a toilet, sink, and paper dispensers; and a utility room that held my supplies. In true Israeli fashion, I threw buckets of hot soapy water on every surface and then used a squeegee to push the dirty water into a drain. For reasons that remain a mystery to me, I enjoyed cleaning that restroom. I felt honored to clean for the workers who prepare kosher food and they used to thank me for cleaning for them.
The first night of this story, I went to clean my bathroom and someone had put two chairs into the front room. The second night, I went to clean my bathroom and someone had added two more chairs to the front room. The third night, I went to clean the bathroom and two of the young men were having a party in the bathroom! They were sitting in the air conditioning, eating pretzels right off the counter! Eww, gross. I know the bathroom counters were clean, because I cleaned then, but still… it’s a bathroom!
I wondered if the next time I came to work, there would be a picnic table in there, and then maybe a cooler and some drinks, and then a BBQ pit, and then maybe a volleyball net…
When I phoned David, I told him about the boys partying in my bathroom and how I fully expected to find a picnic table in there the next time I worked. He laughed so hard. I mean he howled with laughter, which, of course, made me howl with laughter, too. I never ever heard him laugh like that before… and it was beautiful. 5755 miles (9262 kms) apart and I could still make him forget his troubles for at least a moment. Thank-you, Hashem. It made me so happy to hear my David laugh.
You must log in to post a comment.