August 26, 2004

Who Better Than A Friend

I met up with a friend as she was walking home from the GREAT EVENT of yesterday, and decided to walk with her a bit; I had some things on my mind and really needed to bend someone's ear and she was very helpful. One conversation led to the next and soon we were talking about housecleaning.

"I really could use an extra hand about the house." She admitted.
She is a very neat homemaker; but she is pregnant and has two little ones. Anyone who is pregnant and has two little ones three and younger doesn't need help, they deserve help! One's stomach just gets in the way of everything, not to mention feeling tired and drained. And two little ones need a lot of attention; they should have priority.

I happened to know someone who was looking for work and I mentioned her.

"But..." she protested. "I couldn't hire a friend!"
"Who better?" I returned. "They would become your friend in any event."

I understood what she meant. In the USA the idea of having a friend scrub your toilets or clean your oven is a bit disconcerting. One has a maid, and one has friends, but one doesn't have a maid who is a friend. Aren't they sort of mutually exclusive? And our upbringing has been strictly American. Role boundaries are heavy and well defined. One may like one's maid, one may be friendly with one's maid, but one isn't inviting them to dinner on Shabbat.

Here, it is different. One shiur (lesson) I attend is given at the house of another woman I clean for. I wouldn't feel at all odd going to either of the women's houses for a meal, nor would I feel strange having them at my table. There are not the strict lines of demarcations here that divide people in the USA according to profession or finances. Our jobs are what we do to live; ourselves are what we give each other.

Another reason I love being an Israeli.

Posted by Rachel Ann at August 26, 2004 11:24 AM

Israel is cool for so many reasons. That is definitely one of them. I liked when people would just get in the car for maybe 2 hours to visit a friend. When they came back they would say, "Well, they weren't home. We will try again next week." I was stunned. "Not home? How rude to not be home when they knew you were coming!" They would laugh, "They didn't know we were coming. We're not like you Americans who have to call first and have such a strict visiting schedule. We just go. If it is meant to be then they will be home." 17 years later and I still can't believe someone would drive 2 hours only to drive back without seeing their friend. I was the only one bothered by this, though.

Posted by: Robin P at August 26, 2004 01:06 PM

Fascinating insight. Do you think that holds true as you move through different levels of the social strata, by the way?

Hey, congrats on the GOLD MEDAL!!! YAY!!!

Posted by: RP at August 26, 2004 02:31 PM

Robin P, I'm as amazed as you were. When we were teenagers my friends and I would walk long distances (not 2 hours, but maybe 45 minutes) and just show up at a friend's house. Somewhere after college we wouldn't dare show up without arrangements anymore. I don't think it's just that people want to respect their friends' privacy, I think it's also because we Americans may be just er... busier than people in some other cultures. Or not. Maybe we just presume that people are busy.
If I were to drop by at my sister's house, 9 times out 10 se'd be home. But my friend Joe? You need to schedule get-togethers with him two weeks in advance!

Nah. On second thought, it's probably that we just consider showing up unannounced as an intrusion on their privacy. The thing is that I don't think most people would feel a friend showing up unannouned as an intrusion. At least I wouldn't; they're my frickin' friends fercryinoutloud.

Posted by: Tuning Spork at August 28, 2004 09:24 PM
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