Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My Letter to Kirby

Kirby Co.

1355 Central St.

Leominster, MA  01453

Dear Kirby,

On Monday evening, a representative from your store called to offer me a free rug cleaning. We’ve done this before, so I knew basically what to expect: a rep would clean one rug in my home, as long as I listened to the hard sell about your product.

As an extra incentive, if I was able to take the sudden cancellation for Tuesday evening, they would even clean two rugs for me. I was delighted, as the only rugs left in my home are one bedroom and the staircase. We scheduled for 7:00 pm Tuesday.

My children and I arrived home at 6:30 pm, in the middle of a very hard rain storm, to find the Kirby rep already waiting for us. She was indeed so eager to start that she pulled up our driveway before us, efficiently blocking my access to the garage. I had to ask her to back up so I could unload the kids.

When the rep finally came into the house, lugging a large briefcase and two Kirby boxes, the first thing my children and I noticed was that she reeked of cigarette smoke. For people with allergies (which, by the way, as part of the sales process, she also claimed to have), cigarette smoke is a big problem. My sons remained downstairs for the rest of the time, away from the smell.

We went upstairs, and she began to set up. We bonded lightly over the geeky movies on display in our DVD rack. I told her I’d seen the Kirby demo done before, and was fascinated by the white filters.

As she started to vacuum, we chatted about the cost of the unit. When I said that my husband would not like it because of the price, she said,

     “Why, what is he, Jewish?”


I paused before I slowly answered, “Yes, he is.”

She started to chuckle, and explained that she was only joking. She knew we were Jewish because my son had “that thing” (a Jewish star) on his t-shirt (and I realized later that I was wearing a fairly large star on my necklace, too).

She dug herself in a little deeper, by explaining how open she was to people of different faiths.

    “In fact, my brother actually married a woman of the Yiddish faith.”

The Yiddish faith?

By the time my daughter made an appearance in the doorway, I was not at all surprised to hear,

    “Is she Downs?”

No. My daughter IS a girl, a human, a child. She HAS Down syndrome.

But I knew my daughter could hold her own. In fact, she spent the next hour watching the rug being cleaned with great attention.

The woman kept having to stop the machine because her hand hurt, apparently from her Lyme disease. And I learned all about her need for an alarm so she could take her medicine, and how even with an alarm she often forgot to take her meds.

I started sharing the story on Facebook. One friend asked, “Why don’t you just kick her out?”

    Because I wanted her to clean my damn rug!

Which she did. And left the dirty filters on the dresser. With the dirt spilling over onto the dresser, and the items on the dresser.

And she did not even approach the staircase rug. Or mention it.

I don’t think anything she did was meant meanly or maliciously. I think she honestly did not know how completely inappropriate she was. Which is why I’m bothering to write to you, Kirby Co. Please provide your sales people with some sensitivity training. Appropriateness training.

Maybe a smoking cessation program would be good, too.


Francine Ferraro Rothkopf

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Really? I missed a WHOLE Month?!


In all fairness, life's been a wee bit busy.

Passover was a whirlwind. My friend B, who lives in Florida, spent the first half of the holiday with us - her, her husband, and her three sons. The house was certainly overflowing! David got back from New Zealand the day before the first seder, so he was REALLY CRANKY for seder. He has since calmed down.

THe boys were on vacation during the week of Passove,r but Sofia was in school. I did keep her out one day, when my niece Lilie was with us too. We took all 7 kids to the Armory Museum in Worcester. Really cool, and a good choice for this set of kids. But exhausting.

B and her Family stayed until Thursday, and on Saturday my folks came up for dinner. Late afternoon, David and I decided to head over to the Toyota dealer because we had a coupon which was expiring... and ended up staying for 2.5 hours, buying a new car. Minivan, red, of course. See, I clearly need a minivan (today I think I have 5 kids with me at swimming/gymnastics...I've lost count). And our driveway is VERY steep, so I need All Wheel Drive. Which narrows it down to a Toyota Sienne XLE. Again. (And I only buy RED cars).

That was March 30. I picked up the car...this Monday. April 29. Yup. It took them THAT long. And i had to go back today for the Inspection Sticker and the floormats.

But at least now I'm driving around in my sports car minivan Clown Car. Nice and clean and the brakes work really well (which is taking some getting use to!).

Let's see, what else happened in April. It was nice to have David home for the month. We actually had time to go out together, and lots of good family time (once he got over the jet lag).

The world, especially Boston area, has certainly been busy. Patriots Day was really nice (at least to start). We went down to David's office to watch the marathon. The kids love watching from the office window (which is right over Route 135), but I get nauseous watching all the bodies bobbing up and down. IT's easier, and more social, to be outside in the crowd.

We were home by the time the news hit about the bombing in Boston. It was interesting having the boys be connected online - Sam has Facebook, and both he and Micah were watching the news with me. Eventually we turned it off and tried to concentrate.

Sofia was on school vacation that week, but the boys had school, so we were there a lot. Tuesday was Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel Independence Day. There was Israeli dancing (which the kids and I all love), and Shakshouka, a Middle Eastern dish of poached eggs in tomato, chili pepper, onion and cumin. YUM.

Wednesday I had to teach my Torah Trope student, so Sofia went to the MWJDS first grade class for a while (thank you to the Learning Specialist who could get that time). Thursday was her regular day there anyway.

And Friday, we were in lock-down.

Well, technically WE were not in lock-down, being several towns west of the locked down area. But many of our teachers at MWJDS live in that area, so we closed school. Which also meant I spent an hour in the morning doing phone-"tree" (I don't think its' really a tree when only a small handful of people are doing all the calling). I'm now exploring automated phone calling for the school...

Ok, then back to a normal schedule. OH! Oh that's right. When last I blogged, Sofia had not yet started in the sub-separate classroom.

Well, what a difference! Even after only a week, she was talking more and WAY more engaged in things. It was SUCH a good move for her.

Tuesday night last week, there was a teacher's meeting at teh day school, where a whole lot of interesting changes were announced. And I'm not at liberty to say anymore about it yet, except that we continue to have meetings, and people are full of side discussions and whipsers. And it has not yet been fully announced to the kids yet. So "I can neither confirm nor deny" any rumors you may have heard at this time.

Thursday, I got to leave home - yes, I did! - and go to the SuLaM Shabbaton. I had gone in the fall, along with the Head of School and the Director of Teaching & Learning. This time the Director could not join us. It was a really interesting conference. Our subject matter for the weekend was "Teaching Israel and Zionism in the day school classroom", covering preschool through high school. We explored texts from the Bible, Talmud, and all the way through modern documents. REALLY interesting.

It was a very long and busy weekend, though. We had to be downstairs at 6:50 on Friday, for a study session, and then we took a bus ride into NYC. First we went to the United Nations and met with a member of the Israeli Delegation, and then we went to Columbia University to hear fro a Hillel professor who has developed a curriculum about teaching Israel.

Shabbat was fun and busy. Prayers or study sessions or meals with interesting conversations. A little bit of rest time - I took a walk and then a nap. Israeli food celebration at night.

Sunday, during breakfast, they gave us all the notes about various programs, and I found out that all the budget proposals and receipts and everything for my Birkat Hamazon curriculum have to be submitted into their office BY MAY 10 if we want to get any funding! YIKES!

I got to drive the sports car down to the conference (in NJ) and back. Fun, but I was really tired! David was with the kids all weekend (which was fun for me to "observe" from a distance), but he had to leave Sunday for Costa Rica before I got home.

So this week I've been doing a lot of work on that, as well as trying to push along with the Yearbook. And I had to take Sofia to Children's in Waltham for her eye re-check (it was supposed to be the day of the lock-down), and then take Sam to the pediatrician (strep is running through the school and he wasn't feeling well. Quick test was negative, so he went back to school today).

I ordered Sofia another pair of glasses. A more durable frame, very twist-able, and scratch coating and transitional tint lenses. Will post a photo when they arrive.

I've got my synagogue choir "concert" tomorrow night after services. Ugh. I have very high standards for choir singing... and this is a totally community-based choir. I'm pleased to say that Sunday, after a 5 hour drive, I managed to NOT rip anyone's head off...

My folks are coming up tomorrow, because... Saturday morning I have a 6am flight to Costa Rica! YEAH! A few days with just my honey. No kids! I get back after midnight on Tuesday night. I can't wait. My parents get to take Sofia to her ballet dress rehearsal. Whew. And I've warned Micah's and Sofia's teachers that the kids might be a bit "off" while my folks are there (Sam will be totally fine).

THen it's Yearbook, Curriculum, and supporting all the changes at the school that were announced (that I can't yet talk about). And the usual round robin of child activities and extra kids and things...

Whew. I'm beat.