Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Canada – CCCXX. Difficult Beginnings (3 of 15)

The gap between how simple you might think a given task is, and actually executing it, can be quite wide.  To prepare a swatch of fabric simply involves cutting a square of the material at a corner, right?  Wrong.  It includes so much more.  Let me see how much I remember after all those years.

The first thing to do is to study the pattern to ensure your sample will reflect it; only then will you begin cutting.  You want to cut as little as possible without sacrificing what I previously said.  You need to balance esthetic with economy.

Then you had reversible cloth (where either side can be turned outward); should you have two samples, or one showing both sides?  Sorry, I no longer remember!  I brought it up to allow you to appreciate the difficulty involved.  (As far as I remember, a lot of the material we stocked was reversible).

Then we come to colors.  You obviously don`t want to hand a salesman a booklet with all grey material; the question then becomes:  what mix of colors is required?  This is dictated by the needs and preferences of the salesman’s clientele; and what he is more comfortable with.  In addition, Joe will make his suggestions and they in turn often reflect what Israel Jr. wanted.  (This applies to patterns, as well).

Next to be considered is the fibre; we dealt largely (or exclusively) with wool; but not all wool are created equal.  Joe never explained that part of the process; it was coming.  Remember, this was Sample-Making 101; I never stayed long enough for S.M. 201!

If you think that before cutting Joe looked at patterns and colors the way a surgeon considers how to perform his surgery, think again!  The need for speed was ever present.

Is that all?  Certainly not.  Joe was expected to look at what was offered for this season, and think about the next season.  Israel Jr. and Joe discussed the matter with the earnestness of two doctors discussing a life-saving treatment for a very sick patient.  Back then, in my own mind, I scoffed at the whole process; today, with the benefit of maturity, I realize its importance; the livelihood of many people (including mine) was riding on making the right choices.

(As strange as it may seem, I never saw salesmen coming to the Montreal office; did they congregate in Granby?  Where did Joe meet them?  I know that Joe frequently absented himself, but never for a whole day; then again, Granby is not far from Montreal, he presumably, when required, made the round trip.  As odd as it may seem, I never gave it any thought back then; I am raising these questions only today!)

You’ve been apprised of the complexity of the process, the question then becomes, how was I faring?  Not well at all!

You’ve heard top athletes say:  Either you can skate or you can’t.  Either you can shoot a basket and have the endurance or you don’t.  Now I was not required to join the NHL, or the NBA; put another way, no extraordinary talent was required, and yet I had difficulties to catch on.  I was lost when Joe was not in the office.

And there were other issues.  I was slow and was falling behind in my work.  Help was often extended when I needed to carry out heavy rolls to the table; but the shipping clerks were sometime very busy and Joe was not around; therefore I had to do that myself; and as luck would have it, the roll I needed was more often than not at the bottom of the pile.  On one occasion I tried to pull on the bottom roll, only to have the whole thing come cascading down; I cursed in three languages!  At times there was so much work, I had to stay up late; I was not paid, but supper was provided.

So was I good at anything?  Fortunately, yes.  There was some bureaucratic work required:  Who got what and when; and determining where we were at, and planning future work.  It was not difficult work, but it required a well-organized person; and that mercifully I was.

I didn’t need to be psychic to figure out how all that was going to end.  Indeed, I was surprised how much my employer tolerated.  Surprisingly, I was retained until December.  (There was a reason for that as I would find out later).

One day, Joe called me in another room and closed the door; he had a forlorn expression on his face, after a moment of silence he finally said:  “I am sorry …” While I expected to be fired, it still came as a shock (I suppose it always does).

When I met with Israel Sr., he told that they were paying me for three weeks even though I was entitled to one week vacation.  He stressed that I should call upon them if I needed any help; to come and visit whenever I wished; and if I needed to buy fabric for a suit, they would give me a substantial discount.  To lighten the atmosphere he suggested that I go to Sofio who in turn would reduce his price.

(Sofio was the tailor who made suits for the firm; specific fabrics were selected and a few suits were made for Joe; they gave the customer a chance to see how that particular cloth looked like as a suit.  Joe as far as I know did not keep the suits, not during the present season at any rate).

The last person I met was Mrs. Goldstein.  She explained to me how to apply for unemployment insurance and what that was.  Of course, like everybody else she wished me good luck; she then added:  “You’ll do well in Canada, I am sure of that.”  I believe there was a very subtle hint that this was not the job for me.  And indeed, it wasn’t.

When I walked out of Montrose, it certainly wasn’t for the last time.  I would go again, but mainly to buy fabric for a suit.  And I did use the services of Sofio who proved to be an amazing tailor; he was expensive, but since I worked for Montrose, he did not charge me his usual rate.

When my father (who was a snappy dresser) saw the suit he made for me, he declared that he would also go to him; I even arranged for Nessim to go to my previous employer to buy the required material.

Finally, after I married, Norma insisted that I only use Sofio if I needed a suit.  When we moved to Ottawa, I still went to him.  Eventually, it was no longer practical to travel back and forth; and so, that desire to be well dressed died out for good.

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