1. Still Jewish in America
My parents told me that anywhere a Jew goes wearing a kippah, he represents the Jewish people. Boy is that true. Many people are still basically incapable of separating a person from his or her race or religion. The most unfortunate part of this is the tendency to ascribe to all members of a person's group the bad qualities observed in the person, and generally to ignore the good qualities.
I remember once standing in line at a subway in Boston trying to get change after paying for a ticket with a $10 bill. The ticket person was distracted on the phone, and the change that I received was $20 less the price of the ticket. In other words, $10 too much. It took me a while to interrupt the ticket person to get him to understand that I needed to return $10 to him. When he finally realized, he snatched the bill out of my hand like I was trying to steal it.
The people behind me ended up traveling on the same line as me and they kept shaking their heads while we were riding. "You had it in your hand, fool. You're so stupid, why didn't you just take it?" Well, I made an impression on them, but to this day I don't know if it was a positive or negative one.
I can't tell you the number of times that I have had to explain to people why I am returning money that they have given me as a result of too much change. Some of the experiences are more positive than the subway one. Sometimes, of course, the reverse happens. Like today.
Today I was buying some stuff in the drug store and the computer rang up three items of something of which I had only bought two. I always check my receipts for this sort of thing, and when I went back to the counter to tell them that they owe me for overcharging, I heard behind me from someone on the line, "Jews always wanting more money." I carefully didn't look behind me to see who had said this. The moral seems to be: you can't win either way, and you can't change a prejudiced mind.
This is the second uncomfortable incident this week. On Wednesday as I was walking home I passed a gang of teenagers, and sometime after I was about one block ahead of them I heard some calls "Hey, Beanie-man!" and some laughing. Once again I pretended not to hear them and I turned the next corner, being equally on my way home.
Teaneck is a pretty Jewish area, too. I don't know if this sort of thing happens because of, or in spite of, this fact. I do know that I am still Jewish in America, and no one is going to let me forget it any time soon.
2. Before Shabbat
I pretty much felt a cold coming on already by Wednesday. I am allergic to the cats that run around my friend's house, as well as the basement I was sleeping in. Allergies lower my resistances, and walking around in the cold did me in. I'm just happy that this didn't happen over the weekend of the con.
I was not too bad this morning, however; still hovering on the edge of sickness. I was just a smidgen too late waking up to talk to my kids before shabbat in Israel. I moved my sleeping arrangements to my friend's study and then made brownies and ginger cookies for my hosts for shabbat.
Right before we went to shul, I called to confirm my reservation on my flight home on Sunday. The El Al person couldn't find my reservation. Huh?
But it was right there on my ticket! I got out my ticket and told her, "Look! It's right here!" As I was staring at my ticket, the world began to fade and swirl. Little green gremlins began running around on the ticket and by the time the world came back into focus, they were gone and my ticket had been changed to Monday, Nov 14. What the?
Well, on the plus side, I have another day of vacation. On the minus side, I told everyone that I'm arriving back on Monday and now it's Tuesday. And I have to spend another vacation day from work, and I have to figure out what to do for one more day in New Jersey.
Damn gremlins. Last time I saw them, they were running around and bouncing up and down on the wings of my last flight, causing turbulence. I got to pick me up some Gremlin-off.
A quiet shabbat shul and evening. I played my game again, this time with both friends. We played twice. More converts.
These friends have played all the right games: Cosmic Encounter (he has several Mayfair copies that he keeps in reserve, as well as Eon and West End), Civilization, etc. All the good games from before Settlers. I am lax in never having taught them any of the new games. Must remedy that.
(Actually, these guys met because of Cosmic. They were both at a singles gathering somewhere, and one of them was trying to explain Cosmic to some random. When he got to the phrase "the game that breaks its own rules" he heard a shout from across the room "Cosmic Encounter!". That was her. He invited her to join our weekly game. They were engaged two weeks later. This weekly Cosmic game was one of the rivulets that became the the Jerusalem Strategy Gaming Club.)