Thursday, May 29, 2008
My body was shivering.
My heart was beating so fast and loud that I felt I was about to collapse.
Singapore's temperature was humid, it was 3pm in that clear afternoon.
I just saw the red/maroon car came to a halt infront of the French Restaurant.
Any minute, a man and a woman would come out. I was alert, I have to swallow that magical stone without delay to turn myself into that Mythical superwoman before they cross the street and reached the place where I was.
They are my chef boss and lady boss: kind, understanding, hardworking. A beautiful couple.
I know why lady boss had to work like a mad dog one week after her ceasarian section operation on her third child and why did my chef boss use every minute he had in the kitchen making sure that they are ready for a big crowd? Wasn't the Nepalese kitchen helper careful of his every movement? Like me, it had to be impeccable to avoid scolding from my boss.
One slack evening, while the couple was talking behind the counter, I heard that they have spent Sing $312,500 ( P10 M) putting up that small, cozy French Restaurant along Siglap Road in Singapore. That amount was their lifesavings. Their 3 children, the 2 Indonesian yaya's are depending on every dollar that they bring home to maintain the lifestyle of being a Singaporean Chinese. If they lose it? everything would be lost and suicide is an option.
I greeted them, smiling,part of my being impeccable. I knew in my heart they were smiling: the alfresco area's set up was done with all the tables, chairs, table clothes, plates and cuttleries, candles. I did it all by myself. Liza and Annette were absent. Liza just walked out the other night. Anette? she didn't have a working Visa. That was illegal and scary. She can be jailed anytime if caught. But Joe ( the agent) said that if anyone would ask why we are working there without a pass (working visa or pass), we are to lie that we are simply helping out the owners and that no money involved. Friends help out each other without expecting anything in return. He said that. It's a lie but we had to. No one survives outside the Philippines being a saint.
It was 9 o'clock in the evening. Only 7 tables were taken. Not bad. An old american and a lovely chinese woman was taking table number 4. No ring in thier hands. They seem to be enjoying the night as the lady was eating her salad like a cat. A small eater.
I was attentive to their every facial expression. I took very good care of them making sure that when I opened the champaigne, the cork would hardly pop and create a sound,their water goblets refilled. I think I did good because the guy gave me $15.00 (P450.00) as tip.
The clock was ticking. Less than 4 hours we will be closing the store and what a joy because I can sleep at least 8 hours. If I am lucky. Having luck meant the captain not showing up at 12 midnight to drink his favorite bottle of red wine with fresh oysters dipped in an expensive balsamic vinegar from Italy that he brought to the store one night. This guy is a power tripper. I heard he works as a pilot for Singapore Airlines and he's got a 5 figure salary. He doesn't look bad although he is as tall as me: 5 feet 2 inches tall/short. It's a wonder because his father is a British Ang-Mo (red skinned in Chinese) and his mother is chinese.
Why do I dread the thought of having the captain as our last guest for the night when I know he will hand me at least $100.00 (P3,000) as tip for being his lousy waitress?
Life in the Philippines was a far cry from what I am experiencing in the Lion City. Racism is in the air from day 1. I will not deny that it was because of money why I did an exodus from what I was enjoying in the Phillipines. I want more, for myself, my family, my future. But after 7 months of back breaking hardwork,16 lbs lost,good pay,5 hours of sleep every night, 16 hours of work with no restday for one month. Money is no longer an issue--I can just quit anytime.
Money is no longer my master.
(On Nappie Gallo Jr.:
Let us pray without ceasing for Nappie/Dodong and turn our noble intentions into reality. I thank my officemates because they are one with me in our desire to see this 3 year old boy having a normal life like our kids...one of these days it shall come to pass--that's my conviction and faith. If you have any suggestions on how we can come up with the 60k for his 2 operations, please shoot me an email or simply post a comment. Thanks--Ruthie)