Tea reminds me of Ukraine. Today, while I was drinking my last packet of Tess Strawberry tea, I closed my eyes and I could picture it. I was sitting in the English Kafedra, drinking tea and eating wafer cookies while working on my MacBook entering grades and making brochures for my newest project for students. Oksana, the Kafedra secretary was there, doing paperwork and stressing about all of the things she had left to do. My friends Tanya and Luda were there for a bit, talking to me and snacking on their healthy bits of sandwich or fruit they brought from home. Ah. I miss those days. My workday today was nothing like my days at TNPU last school year.
My day was spent in a warehouse. I wore a pair of jeans, a long-sleeved t-shirt, and a zip-up hoodie. I wore the hood on various occasions throughout the day because the warehouse is kept at a constant 58 degrees. They have to do this so that the wine doesn’t rot.
I worked for eight long hours. Thirty minutes of those eight hours were spent on break. And the eight hours were split up by a half hour lunch. I spent most of my seven and a half hours of actual work standing at the same table on the assembly line, using the same tape gun as I boxed up a variety of different wines so they could ship to different places in the Midwest and the East Coast. A few times during those amazing seven and a half hours, I stopped taping boxes to drink a few sips of water from my purple water bottle. Then I’d cap the bottle and get back to business as usual.
My funny coworker Julio came over to help build up some boxes a few times. One time, he stopped and asked, “Why you not happy, happy today?” (Please note: Julio is not a native English speaker. I think his English sounds great, but I realized after my response that he doesn’t have the level of English comprehension that I thought he had.) “This music is driving me crazy,” I said. “It’s like I’m dying inside.” He didn’t catch any of this. His eyes looked confused. I went to the universal language. I pointed to my ear and then to the offensive speaker where the kid with the green sweathshirt’s iPod was playing loud, obnoxious music and I made an icky face. Julio laughed at me and kept building boxes.
Today was just a day. I was working. My hands didn’t hurt like they did the other day. The awful music didn’t cause a headache like it did yesterday. But it wasn’t exactly the sort of workday I dream about when I think of my ideal life. It’s nothing like drinking tea in the Kafedra. But you know, the good thing is that in a few weeks, I’ll get paid for what I did today. It’s not exactly tea and cookies, but it’s still pretty sweet.