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 – CCCXXII. Difficult Beginnings (5 of 15)

I no longer remember the name of that company; I do remember, however, that it was a fabrics wholesaler; and because of the great variety of cloths that they carried, I will call them: “Rainbow Wholesalers.”

Rainbow was owned by three brothers; I only remember the name of the youngest:  Jerry; the other two I will call Manny and Haim.  Manny the oldest had founded the firm; thereafter, after graduating from high school, Haim and Jerry joined.

What kind of workplace was that?  If stress could be distilled and injected into a human, you would get nervous wrecks like Manny and Haim!  Indeed, Haim had a stomach ulcer; one day he got very sick and the diagnosis was a bleeding ulcer which had to be operated upon urgently.  When the surgeon was finished with him, he had only half of his stomach left!  His doctor told him that he was strictly forbidden to stress himself, no matter what happened; his life could be in the balance.  From what I saw, Haim was not following his doctor’s order, and his two brothers did not seem concerned in the least.

Jerry was the calm one; one day he told me that he had no intention of getting himself sick like his brothers.

The outbursts of Manny were legendary.  I incurred his wrath only once; he left me in tears and heading for the door; two persons from the stockroom came running after me and brought me back.

Haim was the worst for he kept it all in; but it was enough to take one look at him to realize that he was boiling on the inside.  Imagine a kettle where you blocked the opening that allows the steam to escape; it will explode, of course.  And, as mentioned above that has already happened to Haim; but obviously he had not learned anything from his near-death experience; or perhaps he was unable to change his ways; whatever the case, he was simply killing himself.

Despite the mishighas (craziness), I enjoyed working there; it rounded my Montrose experience, or to be more accurate, it showed me another aspect of the shmati (clothing) business.

I got that position in a round-about way.  A clothing wholesaler on Bleury needed an assistant for his storekeeper.  The job was temporary for the business was being liquidated.  The storekeeper, Nathan, had already secured another position with Rainbow, and he was glad to recommend me.  Manny liked my previous experience and hired me.

There was no Joe here to hold my hand; I was the only sample-maker.  I did manage though; a number of considerations helped my case.

First of all, most of the personnel were experienced; thus, they were able to answer my questions, and help me resolve any issues I encountered.

This was not a manufacturer who had to produce samples fit to hang in a museum; it was enough to produce a decent sample without studying extensively patterns and colors.  As well, there was no need to produce a sample for everything in the warehouse; that would have been impossible for there were so many lengths of clothing; it was more a question of preparing samples on an “as required” basis.  Indeed, there were times when I had nothing to do, at least in the sampling department; however, there was always something else to do; the place was too busy for anybody to sit and twiddle his thumbs!

Finally, Joe had taught me well.  I was a more secure sample maker than when I worked at Montrose.  I could resolve most of my problems; didn’t crack under the pressure; and rarely fell behind in my work.

One day, Nathan informed me that we were moving from our present location.  Moving?  There was so much merchandise it seemed inconceivable to move all that.  Planning alone would be a gigantic task; the move itself would be a mammoth endeavor.  As it happened, Manny asked me to participate in the planning; I was to do that under the supervision of Nathan.

It proved to be a once in a lifetime experience.  I had no idea how much material we had, nor did I realize the incredible variety of fabrics we stored.  When I went with Nathan through the stores, I was like the proverbial kid in a candy store.  By the time I finished with the planning, I was well acquainted with the endless variety of clothing that existed out there.  I was falling in love with the shmati business as befits a Jewish boy!

(I am no longer sure whether Rainbow carried fabrics for both men and women, or just men; I believe he carried both, and probably even had draperies for curtains.  I worked there some 50 years ago; I have a very good memory; but I do have my limitations).

I pictured the move taking at least one week; and yet our plans were for two days only; what was going on?  Nathan told me that we were moving over a weekend; by Monday we were supposed to conduct business (almost) as usual.  “Is that possible?” I remember asking.  His response was we would find out after we completed our planning.

And it did happen:  first on paper and next in reality.  But at the end of that weekend we were all dead.  Everybody put his (or her) shoulder to the wheel; the movers; the store people; the shipping clerks; the office staff; the owners; and last but not least, yours truly!

As long as I did my work, I had a great deal of independence; unlike Montrose, I was not under the microscope at all times.  Needless to say, I was not going to make a career of it, but for the time being, it provided me with a regular paycheque.

Alas, the unexpected happened.  We had a bus strike.  There had not been bus strikes since I came to Canada; thereafter though we had quite a few; indeed I lost count how many we had during the years I was in Montreal; eventually, the law forbade bus drivers to strike; by then though, I was no longer living in Montreal.

Jerry arranged for one of the storekeepers to give me a lift.  But the strike was dragging; that young man, in addition to driving through the horrendous traffic created by the strike, had to come to my building to pick me up, and return me at the end of the day.  This could not go on for long, and eventually Jerry told me to make my own arrangements; but there was nothing I could do about it.  Jerry clearly stated that it was not their responsibility, and indeed it wasn’t.  And so I lost my position on a technicality!

When that door closed, another one opened; and this time it was for a job that would change my whole life; my next position would, in time, make a respected professional out of me.

Before I talk about that, let me introduce you to some of my roommates; and expand on my daily life, for there are many interesting stories here.

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