Time continues to draw down. After working very hard all summer and earning some sales awards, Madis finished delivering his books ahead of schedule and has left Atlanta. He went to Nashville where the company is located to close out and then will stop by for a party in Gatlinburg to celebrate the end of the sales season before catching a bus up to New York and then home.
Meanwhile, the books for Martti and Arni still haven’t arrived. Arni is helping another team deliver books using his van. Since he has been staying with them I haven’t seen him much in the past week. Martti continues to work at Kroger even though their classes back in Estonia have already started and they will have to catch up when they get back. Because Martti wanted to work a lot of hours at Kroger he would work until they told him to go home. He wound up earning a few hours of overtime which they then got mad at him for. If he eats lunch at the store he doesn’t have to clock out for lunch so he works eight hours straight from 8 to 4 Monday thru Friday. He walks a couple of miles to the store which takes about 30 minutes. In Atlanta a 30-minute commute really isn’t that bad.
One day Martti showed me an envelope he had gotten from the Selective Service Board. I said “Don’t worry about that, I don’t think they can draft you” and told him all about the draft and how 18-year-olds just have to register. But upon closer examination the card within said “Thank you for registering”. I told him Congratulations! You’ll be in Iraq in no time and they can really use you. Apparently part of the application process at Kroger triggered him to automatically register for the draft. Looking closer still, there was something on the back of the card that said if he had gotten this in error that he could send in a copy of his visa and they would remove his name. He didn’t waste any time sending that back.
A couple of weeks ago I told the guys I would like to take them out to dinner before they go back and they chose this last Sunday. Since Arni was away working, Madis took his rental car to go pick him up (not sure why Arni couldn’t use the van . . .). On the way back the car started having trouble but they made it back to the house. That night Madis said he wanted to take Arni back but wasn’t real confident in the rental car, asking if they could borrow my car. Since it seemed like a crunch and we’d had a good dinner I figured it would be okay. Madis said that rather than leave so late at night (and having had one beer at dinner) they would get up very early and get the car back to me before I needed to go to work. The next morning they headed out but a little after 8:00 they called and said that due to the traffic on the way over they wouldn’t be able to get back to the house in time. I was a little ticked, but it’s not a bad walk to the MARTA station. When I walked home that evening my car was in the driveway undamaged but Madis asked me if my car was always really hard to start. Uh-oh. I said you’re probably not doing something right and went out to the car. I put the key in the ignition and tried to start the car and just got clicking. I was pretty mad that after driving the rental into the ground they had done the same to my car which had been working fine for me the day before. I asked if Arni had driven the car and Madis said he had. “How fast?” I asked. I said Arni needed to come over and help me start the car but Susan was able to come by and we jumpstarted the car and took it to the Honda repair place nearby. The car is six years old and it appears that the battery just picked the day when Estonians were driving to give out. When I got the car out of the shop I told Madis everything was okay. That was nice to get that resolved because he felt really bad about it and was leaving that same day (and Madis’ car really was in bad shape; it died on his way back to the rental car agency).
The guys were trying to figure out how to get back. Their round-trip tickets were from Estonia to New York’s JFK airport and back. They asked about taking a bus since that is how the company had gotten them from New York to orientation in Nashville. The bus fare was $70 and took 22 hours. I said they should fly and we looked up some fares. Airtran doesn’t go to JFK, but Delta matches their New York fares anyway and a ticket was only $110 (I checked Amtrak too, but it was about the same price and took 18 hours). Martti wasn’t so sure he wanted to spend the extra money. I pointed out that if he took the bus he would still need ground transportation to the airport, plus the bus could be so late he would miss his flight. Dad pointed out that with a 22-hour trip he would also have to buy a couple of meals. Still, he wanted to think about it some more. Madis was faced with a similar dilemma. We checked air prices from Nashville to New York and they were $500. I think he is going to be taking the bus. Martti asked what would happen if he bought the ticket on Delta and they went bankrupt? I said no problem, American airlines go bankrupt all the time and keep flying. I told him just don’t loan Delta any money. So Martti has decided he will fly Delta with a two-hour layover in New York. I even called Delta to make sure he could check his baggage all the way through in Atlanta.
A week or so ago Madis hurt his finger in a car door or something. He talked to me about it and said it wasn’t getting any better. It was swollen and a little purple. I’m an engineer, not a doctor, but I told him it would be okay. He kept thinking he should go see a doctor. But I didn’t think a guy who would take a 22-hour bus trip instead of a 2-hour plane flight to save $40 needed to be going to the doctor for a hurt finger. He finally went and they said it had gotten infected. So they put him on antibiotics and prescribed some 800 mg ibuprofen. I think his mother is a nurse and she said that US doctors give too much medicine: in Estonia half that amount of medicine would work just fine. I thought that was interesting and probably true (and I’m glad he didn’t sue me for malpractice).
Last Saturday, Susan’s company had rented Zoo Atlanta for a company picnic. Since Martti wasn’t doing anything and nobody else was home we asked him if he wanted to go with us. It was a great chance to see the zoo without too many people there plus they had extra feedings and plenty of staff to talk about the animals. It was the first time I had seen the kangaroos there plus they had a display in the reptile house with bats. Some of the animals get more active as the evening comes on and the lion was walking around and roaring. They also had barbecue for dinner and free beer. At dinner we were standing in the food line and I went to get a beer, asking Martti if he wanted one. He said yes. Afterwards they had free fortune tellers, palm readers, and a guy who analyzes handwriting on hand. Martti stood in line and did all three. On the way home I asked Martti what he liked best about the evening. He said the beer.