Use Your Words - Turning Tables

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Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once, and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

ping pong table ~ cat hair ~ mustard ~ olive green paint ~ wooden table

They were submitted by: Cognitive Script  - Thank you, Dawn!

These past days I have written so much about resolutionsgoals, productivity, discipline, getting shit done, etc. I feel like I'm preparing for a new career. Do you think I might be a life coach? If so, why not help people who arrive from a different country settling into their new lives? Like a personal welcome wagon providing services?

Let's try this. 

My fictional clients, a family of five, let's call them the Millers, are moving from NYC to Switzerland. (They're going to have such a cultural shock, but hey, I'm here to soften the blow.)
  • Mom is called Caroline, she's a translator and used to work for the U.N.
  • David, is a contingency underwriter for Swiss Re and has been transferred to the Swiss HQ for a three years' assignment.
  • Victoria just turned 11 and is supposed to start middle school
  • Son Max is going to be 9 and isn't much interested in school, he'd rather play hockey all day
  • Brinkley is their family dog, a good mannered golden retriever
There, your perfect family. I'm supposed to meet them at the airport in about an hour, so in the meantime let me tell you what they (and I) have been up to until today:

Their furniture, movable appliances, boxes full of clothes, books and flatware are still in a container somewhere on the Atlantic ocean. 

They shipped it mid-November and moved in with Dave's parents who live in Connecticut from where the family members commuted to school and work until Christmas break. 

Caroline and her MIL politely tried to get along, but as the airport shuttle pulled up in front of the in-laws' house on January 11, both women secretly exhaled. It's hard enough to prep for the holidays at your own home, but if there's somebody breathing down your neck constantly...

Dave's employer is paying for a real estate agent who has found them a nice beach house at Lake Zurich in one of those communities that is inhabited by a lot of English speaking expats - step one for a quick adaption: make friends with like minded people who literally speak your language. They know where to shop when all the businesses are closed on Sundays, they have a secret stash of real brown sugar and canned pumpkin puree, and they understand why a tiny tube of mayo or mustard just doesn't cut it.

The previous owners moved out in a bit of a hurry. So much so that they left most of their furniture behind - up to the Miller's to decide what to keep, donate or dispose of. The agent and I took a tour for stock and picture taking, and Caroline emailed us her answers right away:

  • Leather sofa, wooden table, bed, ping pong table, check.
  • High speed internet, cable TV, two phone landlines, check.
  • Water, gas, electricity - all up and running, check.
  • Fridge and freezer plugged in, cooling down as we speak, check. 
  • Chilled beverages and some basic groceries standing by in a mobile cooling box, check.
  • Garage door opener batteries replaced, check
  • Mailbox and door bell labeled "Miller Family", check

There were a couple more things that we needed to arrange prior to their arrival: a certified cleaner had to make sure there were absolutely no remains of cat hair (Victoria is allergic, besides, Brinkley wouldn't be too thrilled either), and a painter had to replace the ugly olive green paint with some neutral egg shell in the bathroom. 

Other than that, we're all set:

On Monday I'm going to take them to the Gemeinde (community administration) to register, as soon as their Ausländerausweise (documents stating they're eligible to live and work here) is going to be issued, I plan a trip to the bank to open accounts and apply for credit and debit cards, as well as to a mobile phone provider to arrange for plans for everyone. 

Next stop: car shopping, the dealership will take care of all things insurance and Strassenverkehrsamt (DMV). Then off to school appointments for both kids, meet the principle, some teachers, their German tutor, time permitting some classmates. We are going to take the bus that will take them every day to make them familiar with the commute.

Tomorrow night there's going to be a welcome party in their honor, arranged by the American International Club of Zurich so they can meet people whose friendship will make their lives so much easier. 

Max is scheduled for a trial practice with the junior Lions, Victoria wants to resume Zumba, Dave is expected to report to his first staff meeting at 9 sharp on Monday, and I'm supposed to take Caroline to the U.N. offices in Geneva where she has scheduled a couple of meetings - if all goes well she'll be commuting almost 3.5 hours per way to work on 2 or 3 days every week. Poor woman. 

I know people who come to Switzerland are in awe of our clean and punctual trains that reach every town, but in all reality they're crowded, and you can forget about getting work done. Plus as you board and exit the train there'll be ciagrette smoke greeting you, yuck. There's hope, though. SBB, our train company is running a smoke ban at five different stations on a trial basis. What prevents them from just cold turkey disallowing smoking at train stations altogether is beyond me, but hey, it's a start.

At least the airport arrival area where I am sitting now, is smoke free, and there's free wifi and Starbucks, so I'm a happy girl waiting for my clients. 

I think I can see them coming, They are hidden behind a huge stack of suitcases on their cart. Max is wearing a Rangers jersey - of course! Brinkley is wagging his tail like crazy, but wait, what's going on? 

Why aren't they all coming..?

To be continued... suitable February words permitting. 

Before you leave, please go and check out my blogger friends' posts: