Voldemort is Dead

You Know Who doesn’t know what you are saying, does he, Mommy?” Thing 3 asked me from the back seat the other day.

“Why no, as a matter of fact, I do not think he has the faintest idea what I just said.”

“Let’s just call him Voldemort. He’ll never get that reference.” Thing 1 said in Portuguese.

Mr. Understanding grew up in a family coached in speaking in code in public places. Likewise, we have coached our children to do the same in front of others who just might understand whatever foreign language we are speaking. We had been speaking Portuguese in front of the driver until we figured out that really, he can’t understand our English. So now we speak English but continue to call him Voldemort.

In Mexico we employed a string of about 25 maids. This is a conservative figure. I used to be able to recite all their names but gave up after the twentieth walked out the door. Some stayed a month, others a year, others a day. During that same six and a half year period, however, we had only one driver Leopoldo, or Polo for short. A former taxi driver, he knew el D. F. like the back of his hand. I was only, ever, able to show him one short cut. He was a driving ace – not one accident. After a few too many San Lunes no shows (Sunday evening drinking sprees leading to crippling Monday morning hangovers), he and I had a Come To Jesus talk and that was the end of that. He was never late again without having called first to advise me. In the course of our relationship, I am sure he began to understand English which was handy when I wanted to convey something to him indirectly, such as, “I will fire the driver if I catch him skimming the gas money. I know the trick of getting the gas station attendant to write a receipt in a larger amount.” Naturally, he overheard a lot of private conversations as well and was privy to many a family moment, such as driving two of my babies home from the hospital. All in all, it was a relationship that worked and when we left Mexico we gave Polo a beater car. We still keep in touch.

This morning I sent My Three Things off on their bicycles in the rain at 6:50 this morning to catch the school bus at the clubhouse half a mile away as Voldemort was a no show. Yesterday he had been late but had called Mr. U’s driver to come early. After repeated phone calls and text messages with no answer, I threw rain capes on the kids. Thing 2 strapped his tenor sax to his back and shoved his backpack in the bike basket. Yes, they could of walked but time was atickin’ and the memory of my mother making me carry an alto sax up a nearly vertical hill when I was in 5th grade, frequently in the rain, was still fresh. (I later switched to the trumpet but the damage had been done). Last week, Voldemort was late 3 times.

I took our dog out this morning for a constitutional and lo and behold, there was a silver minivan in front of the house with Voldermort asleep (?) at the wheel. After inquiring as to the delay – he mimicked a 4 car pileup – and where was his cell phone – at home – I told him to sit there until I decided was going out. My patience restored, we went across town in search of a book. This was fine. Until the gas gauge pinged on empty, my cell phone was dying, and he said he knew where he was going but, in fact, did not.

ADIOS, muchacho! You Know Who (Yu Nao Hu) is no Polo and my patience is at an end. Please keep the driver tally for me but we’ve already decided not to memorize their names. They are all going to be called Voldemort.



Filed under Moving, People

11 responses to “Voldemort is Dead

  1. I love this post. I loved Polo.He was good to you and I want your readers to know that you were great to him. You got him a job after you left that provided him Social Security. You have sent clothes to his kids, and countless other things.

    I also liked my personal driver when I was in Brazil with you, Bene. He was a good man and also loved your kids. Both drivers tried to teach me their language and were patient. Polo would admonish me to get my purse out of view of thiefs. Each man did chores if they were not driving which was not in the job discription. I was thrilled when Bene was able to get work that befit his intelligence.

    Where ever you are guys, I love you.

  2. Mood Ring Mama

    I loved those drivers too – they had good senses of humor with us Gringos.

    I say that if you ever do find a good driver, you should rename him “Potter” for his wizzard-like ability to show up on time and negotiate the streets of Shanghai. Voldemort is too evil of a name for the hero you will eventually find to wisk you around on your errands and many shopping adventures.

    That said – This Voldemort definitely needs to go.

  3. Laura

    As one professional ex-pat to another, I say you can´t call Shanghai home until you´ve fired two or three of them. It goes with the territory, aqui y en China. Just learn how to say “unemployment line” in Mandarin and teach the kids to employ a few menacing growls and you´ll find your Polo #2.

    And, happy early birthday to Thing 2. What are the plans?

  4. Friends,

    They have not found Voldemort’s replacement yet so I am still saddled with him. Multitasking and forethought are not concepts with which he is familiar. It’s pretty quiet in the car …

    As for Thing 2, he has a soccer game. We do not know anyone’s email or phone so I am hoping that afterwards we have an impromptu pizza and poker afternoon. If not, a birthday do over in November when I am more organized.

    I will take into consideration a name change to Potter, MRM, but am still pretty keen on Voldemort instead of You Know Who.

  5. OOOO OOOOO – that was me squealing! I forgot to PRAISE the Radish on her avatar!!!!! Beauty!!

  6. La Lopez

    Poker game? Hadn’t considered that option, but why not? What do they play for, American candy? IPods? Hooters calendars?

  7. To La Lopez: Happy Birthday to your son. After sharing time in the nursery with your family looking through the glass at the babies. I have not forgotten that time. Your husband was so nice. And I remember how fast your baby came. It was done!

  8. Laura

    Hey Radish,

    Yes! I recall that day so fondly. You were great! So calm and happy. And yes, we were quick, but the Expat P. took her time and her baby is now about twice as tall as mine, so maybe all that extra stretching paid off in the end.


    La L.

  9. The party has been postponed until the 22nd. RELIEF!

  10. MCV

    Don’t see Radish’s avatar.

  11. Laura

    Wish you were here to share our party. Sleepover as I write and snowboarding tomorrow. Just a few moments ago my Thing 3 whispered me aside and held out his arms for a hug – carefully out of view of any buddies – and announced that it was the last hug he planned to give me for the rest of his life now that he is turning 11 and that the hormones are just about to kick in. He patiently explained that I can´t expect him to be nice any more, that he´s got a reputation to keep up as a pre-teen then teen.

    How is your birthday boy doing? Grab a hug if that is still a possibility.

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