Friday, September 30, 2005

Women who work and women who don’t

Going to the local shop in the morning to buy some bread for lunch I am greeted by the same scene every time. The small supermarket is full of middle aged and elderly women about to do their shopping, in the middle of it or having finished their shopping but still in the shop.
“Hacer la compra” (to do/ go shopping) is a task/ seems to be done on a daily basis.

All of them are busy chatting, offering their opinion on this and that subject.
I do often marvel at their ability to have so much to talk about as it is the same women I meet every morning. But even after a few years of living here and being at a fairly proficient, if mostly self taught level of Spanish, I am still out of depth when faced with the uninterrupted chatter of half a dozen elderly andaluz women from one of the smaller villages in the Campo (countryside).

So far I haven’t been able to decipher exactly what subjects it is they seem to be able to discuss every morning. This is partly because I am in a hurry to get home and off to work because this is what this post is all about, the women who work and the women who don’t.

After a period of time of going to the shop every morning to buy stuff for my lunch at work, and chatting a bit about this and that, the women shopping there and the owner of the shop all caught on to the fact that I was going to work every day and further away from the village in a larger city.

This then led to me being pushed in front of the queue every time I was there (of which I was grateful, as everybody is involved in the chitchatting and don’t seem to be in a hurry) with the words “she is going to work”. It was almost like a magic formula, dividing the shop into them and me.

All of a sudden I could manage my time a little better in the mornings. From not knowing whether my daily purchase of bread for my lunch sandwich would take 15 or 5 minutes, it seemed to become 5 minutes almost every day as I was pushed to the front. Bliss.

Recently I again saw the divide between working and non-working women. It was this summer and quite late in the evening. The Spanish family in the house next to me had the grandchildren over for the summer holiday. They are 4 girls, and not of the quiet kind!

So one evening the two eldest were sitting out on the street entertaining their friends, chatting and eating pipas at 1 o’clock at night. Which during the summer is not that late. But they weren’t really trying to be quiet at all. So in the end, Grandma came out and asked them if they had no shame? Because in the house across the street lived a woman who had to go to work.

After that they quietened down.