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 – CCCXXVIII. Difficult Beginnings (11 of 15)

One day, Slawner came for an inspection; after his short tour of the house, he delivered his verdict:  “The house is filthy!”  I nodded but didn’t reply, for indeed the house was very dirty.  He then added, “I’ll come back in two weeks, and if the house is not properly cleaned, I’ll start the eviction process.”

That same night, Foufou, Alfred, and I discussed the matter.  We agreed that we were very busy as between our work, shopping for necessities, and cooking; cleaning the apartment was very low on our list of priorities.  There was no doubt that Slawner was right, and his ultimatum justified.  The immediate question though was what to do about it?

In reality, we didn’t have a problem; we had another option.  Two Israelis (Egyptians like Alfred and I) friends, Albert and Victor, were sharing a large two bedrooms apartment on Park Avenue (a central location); they had invited us to join them to save on rent and for company.  They had been asked by their landlord to act as janitors, and thus enjoyed special privileges.

I contacted these friends and was told that their offer was still on the table.  And so the decision was taken to move with them.  The next thing was to arrange a convenient date to move our tacky furniture and meagre possessions.

Next, I met with Slawner and advised him that, subject to his approval, we were moving out at the end of the month; he agreed, and all necessary papers were completed and signed by both of us (the lease was in my name, thus Foufou and Alfred were not involved).

Albert and Victor shared one bedroom; Alfred and I shared the other; Foufou slept on the chesterfield in the living room; cleaning and cooking duties were fairly allocated; and expenses were split five ways.  And it worked well, except for one issue.

For some reasons, other Israelis considered our home a locale where they could get together with their compatriots!  Our main door was not even locked; thus, I could emerge from the bathroom and find a friend or two sitting casually in the living room!  Actually, we were fine with that; the problem was that some of our “guests” stayed late, but the five of us needed to wake up early to go to work.  The solution was to establish a curfew:  we told our friends that by 10:00 P.M. they had to leave; on the weekend they could stay late, but again within reasonable limits.  Nobody was offended, indeed the group grew!  And one of them, Maurice, practically demanded to live with us.  We agreed; and so now there were 6 of us!  Maurice bought a folding bed and slept in the living room.  Without any hesitation, we could now hang a “No Vacancy” sign!

One day, at suppertime, Maurice advised us that an Israeli friend, Agam, was coming to visit him; we had to accommodate her for she had nowhere else to go.  I no longer remember how we managed that; but for more than one month there were seven of us!  She had many friends, and so our circle grew up again.  The good news is that Maurice and Agam rented a studio apartment and moved out; she was allowed to stay in Canada; and they eventually got married.

  *  *  *

I got lucky on two fronts in that Park Avenue home:  Career-wise an important break occurred; and a budding romance was started (I will talk about that later on).  Both events would completely change my life.

Candiac Equipment was a company located in Candiac (a town on the South Shore of Montreal).  They were in the business of repairing and providing spare parts for the heavy equipment used in construction.

Their ad for a bookkeeper was in the paper for a few days; they were obviously having some difficulties finding the right person.  Should I apply for the job?  Candiac was far away, I would need to take one bus in Montreal, and another intercity bus that would take me there.  Ultimately, I saw it as a chance that may not present itself again and, distance notwithstanding, I called them.

The Chief accountant, Mr. Bélanger, was impressed and an interview was arranged.  I first met with him, but we were soon joined by the CEO of the company, Mr. Metzger.  It was a long interview and they left no stone unturned; I did the same, and they were pleased to hear me asking so many questions about their corporation.  They freely admitted that they were having difficulties finding the right person because of the distance; in turn I was honest and told them that I was unsure whether I would like accounting.  Bélanger felt that I had the potential to be a good accountant, and that I would fall in love with accounting.  After all these years I still remember what he said:  “Accounting is real life, it certainly isn’t just dry figures, the figures tell you interesting stories, but you have to understand their language.”

The starting salary would be $50.00 a week, but depending on my performance, raises will quickly follow.  (Indeed, when I left, I was making $80.00 a week, an impressive salary back then).

Finally, they told me that they would have to think about it and would get back to me as soon as possible.

A few days later, Mr. Bélanger called and said the magic phrase:  “When can you start?”

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