Most tourists visiting this country don’t get to really comprehend the culture: bound to attend notorious Time Square or Central park they automatically limit their scope of field research. We, on the other hand, were no ordinary tourists. We yearned for authenticity and originality. And since we were very determined, we discovered it within the first month of our summer in the US, when acquired a new boss-lady, named Lenette – a typical Jersey gal with a hell lot of energy and insurmountable ambition…
Hungry to grab any and all opportunities to make a buck, my kick-ass friend Lilya and I found another job on top of our amusement park gig (Getting the second job was far less stressful: one might conclude we learned well at our self-inflicted hands-on “training” on Job Hunting 101!) This additional occupation, however, was less glamorous and required a behemoth physical capacity.
When I was first explained the work that needed to be done, I thought “sounds easy enough, I was brought up being responsible for cleaning my room and/or the whole apartment we lived in”… Boy, was I wrong! Whereas, in Russia I had maximum of two rooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom to take care of, the average American household contained ten times more space for living quarters, and that didn’t include endless kitchens, dining rooms, guest rooms, family rooms, walk-in closet-rooms, sun rooms, and pet rooms (optional). In one word, I became a fourth wheel of an ultimate human cleaning machine delivered to different residential properties three times a week and left to do its job fast, efficient, and without complaints.
As hard as it sounds, cleaning houses became a great way of studying the enigmatic American life, the culture with its interior and exterior. I marveled the way houses were organized: the amount of bathrooms on each floor was, literally, liberating – you could pee anytime you wanted! Each house always had a washer and a dryer – the latter especially intrigued me due to its efficiency and convenience. You see, all my clothes in Russia were always air dried either on a door that was swung open or on a radiator which occasionally had spots with popped-off paint, leaving rusty stains on my favorite shirts.
American kitchens became my undeniable obsession! They had so many handy devices, closets, and two, or sometimes, even three ovens! ‘What can you bake in all of them?’ I pondered. Back then, thoughts like this would occupy my gray matter pretty often and then, without resolution, quietly subside. The sinks with garbage disposals were totally beyond any of my wild imaginations: ‘What do you mean, you can put egg shells down the drain and this thing will devour them without clogging up?’ My mom would kill me if she saw me messing with the kitchen sink. And, believe me, my mom can.
The stove tops had anywhere between 4 and 8 burners – a stunning beauty! In my childhood, two burners were considered good, if at least one of them was properly functioning…
The next noteworthy feature of an American household was the closets. Akin to Pandora box, these massive vaults contained infinite amount of clothing, shoes, hats, baseball gear, purses and other paraphernalia. I distinctly remember this one particular closet with about 30+ pairs of jeans, all of them blue, washed off and trendy: ‘Lucky girl!’ I heard myself comment while marveling her collection and comparing it to my solo outfit – a brown uniformed dress that I had to wear to school until I was in the fifth grade, when ‘glasnost’ and ‘perestroika’ were taking place ubiquitously across my country.
During our commute between destinations, I was sharing my discoveries with Lenette, the boss-lady, who could talk on the phone, eat a sandwich and steer the wheel with her left leg ALL THE SAME TIME!!! ‘That’s where Americans derive the all-encompassing word ‘multitasking’, so very profoundly accentuated in each job interview!’ I observed every time when exited the vehicle undamaged, except for minor panic attacks and other superficial psychological trauma, thus, continuing the unconventional exploration of the immensely rich American dream life.