This very morning on a lovely spring day, I rode in a taxi across half the city. The traffic was so bad and the weather was so beautiful that I stopped the driver halfway and got out and had an exquisite walk home.
But during that ride in the taxi, the driver and I had a very positive and affirming conversation about the state of affairs here in Romania. I won’t go into great detail about some of the driver’s points because they are somewhat “politically incorrect” and thus stupid people can misinterpret them.
Yet one topic in which we were in complete agreement was that only by thinking positively can anything be done in Romania. I literally cannot emphasize just how important that is. A very good friend told me just a few days ago that if only 10% of the population learns to think like us (i.e. positive) then that’s all we need to make good things happen here.
Romanians are clumsy at understanding social change and so most of them are left in confusion about exactly what to do so that we can fix all these cocksucking problems which yes, do exist. It does no good for me to “preach” and then not do so the following story is entirely real.
A few days ago my girlfriend and I went over to see Ishti, the formerly homeless guy whom I filmed all winter and who is now both employed and living indoors in an apartment. Because he’s effectively making the legal minimum wage, all he can afford to rent is a room inside an apartment where an older man (age 55) and his mother (88) live in the other half of the apartment.
The older man is a drunk and is often out of the house, gambling away his money on various games. The mother is effectively housebound and while she can walk, she can barely do any other physical activity.
My girlfriend and I came over to Ishti’s place to see how it looked and also to cook him a meal. Without bragging too much, I am an awesome cook so I made up a heaping pot of pasta. My girlfriend meanwhile was sitting down at the table with Ishti and teaching him how to wash his hands and take a shower.
The kitchen in that apartment was filthy. The dishes everywhere were filthy. Some of the silverware was rusty and some of it was extremely rusty. There are coffee cups put away in the cabinet which still have ancient coffee in them, the cups being neither washed nor even rinsed out.
Meanwhile however there’s three bottles of tuica near the sink and a half of a sack of malai and a whisk sitting on top of an old washing machine that hasn’t worked in years and is only a piece of furniture now. The old lady later tells us that all she eats is mamaliga and all she drinks is coffee.
When she sees me, the man, cooking food, she flips out because it’s “improper” for the woman to be sitting down and the man doing “women’s work” in the kitchen. Despite the fact that I am literally fucking in the process of sauteeing some onions she waddles over to the stove and twists the knob to close the burner. “Hey, I am cooking here!” I literally scream in her ear because she’s half deaf.
She then takes an ancient withered candle out of the cabinet full of dirty dishes and uses it to relight the burner. Meanwhile my girlfriend’s washing dishes in the sink and we realize that there is literally not a drop of hot water in the house so her hands are getting ice cold after we just sent Ishti to go take a shower.
Quickly we come up with the solution to boil a pot of water and use it to mix with cold water so we can do the dishes and warm up our hands. My girlfriend remembers that there’s a plastic washtub (leagan) in the bathroom so when Ishti comes into the kitchen shivering and cold, she sends me to go get the washtub so we can mix him up some hot water so he can wash his hands and shave in the bathroom.
Old grandma sees me bringing the plastic tub into the kitchen and begins to shout at me. She is literally having a fit seeing me carry this tub into the kitchen and put it on top of the burnt-out washing machine. “What are you doing?” she yelled at me.
“Making hot water!”
-MAKING HOT WATER HAVE YOU HEARD OF IT WHAT THE FUCK
So old grandma gets hysterical and starts shouting at how expensive everything is. Turns out they have a boiler, their own heating system but they are just too cheap and tightfisted to turn it on. The old grandma kept turning off the burners on the stove out of fear at how “expensive” it is to use the gas.
She then goes into full-on Woe Is Me For I Am A Romanian mode in which she openly tells me how much money she makes per month and how much she paid for all her bills. It’s obvious that she’ll never be rich but clearly all the tuica and beer is cutting into the food and general welfare “budget”. She then goes into a diatribe about people who fucked her over in some way and how much life sucks and how nobody will help pay the bills.
I told her that Ishti has a job and will of course pay his share of the bills, exactly as we discussed when he moved into the place. But Grandma wasn’t having any of that and continued blathering on about how the previous renters ran up the bills and blah, blah, blah.
And yet the fact that we are all foreign, (Ishti is a Hungarian and both me and my girlfriend are from other countries) did not clue the old grandma into realizing that she had nothing to worry about. She has a great kid who is quiet and courteous living in her apartment, who pays his bills and never causes an ounce of trouble.
And here comes me and my supermodel girlfriend over to her house to cook a nice meal and wash half her dishes ghetto style by mixing boiling water and ice cold water in a pot. All this old lady had to do was sit in there with us and enjoy our company and instead she acted as if we were causing her a great burden.
How has that attitude ever helped anyone, ever, in the history of the universe? The taxi driver from this morning was right – only while thinking positively can anything change for the better. When you think negatively all the time you miss the wonderful opportunities happening right before you and that’s a real shame.
But it’s okay. One day we’ll take over and then all the old, bitterly afraid people can fade off into the sunset and leave the rest of us to enjoy this wonderful, amazing, beautiful country.