I had just immigrated to America and I had my first job in a Pharmaceutical company. I lived by myself and my life is like living on an island in a sea of white people. There were a lot of new and foreign things to me that I should learn but there was nobody around to orient me with these things American. Boredom and loneliness were powerful enough to make me entertain the idea of going back home where everything and anything were just at the back of my palm. To go to my job, I shared a car pool with a coworker who lived near my apartment. I was thankful to have a ride because our office was 15 miles away at the southern fringes of the city.
I was getting low on clean clothes and across the street was a sign that says “ Cleaners, Dry Clean”. Thinking that they would take laundry of any kind, I brought all my dirty clothes and underwear. The attendant kept on looking at me while she was counting the items, probably thinking I was a nut or a rich foreigner or stupid. I did it for several weeks until one Saturday morning while I was reading the magazines at the lobby; a guy with a basket full of laundry came up from the basement. I immediately went down and voila, several sets of washing machines and dryers were lying around. I discreetly studied how to operate the machines and I hurdled one problem (first lesson 101).
After working for a month, I decided to buy a car, having saved enough for the down payment. That day I wore my nice suit to work and planned to go directly to the car dealership in the evening after work. I thought that being dressed in business attire would give me respectability when I meet a car salesman. Rightly so, as I stepped inside the store, a friendly salesman met me and politely called me sir, the first time in America that I was addressed as such. I decided on an Opel Coupe and the salesman and I went to his office to discuss the business transaction. We settled on a price but as he was filling the form for my loan application, he found out that I did not have any credit record, none at all. I told him that I had a good job but that did not count, he wanted me to have my boss cosign for the ownership because I was new in the country without any credit record. Well, I left telling him that I would think about it. I was disappointed because I thought I was a cool gentleman when I entered the store but later on, I went out being what I was, a poor foreigner. (he he he)
I called my big brother who was 400 miles away living in a small town and that was where I ended up buying my Opel Coupe, without being asked of credit records because my brother knew the manager of the dealership.
Having a car provided me with mobility and lessen my boredom and homesickness. I cruised around on weekends to familiarize myself with the city. In one intersection while waiting for the traffic light to change to green, a pretty woman by the sidewalk waved at me, and thinking that she might be a coworker, I waved back. She was moving towards my direction when the lights turned green and I had to go. Early on that Monday morning, I related the story to a coworker, he laughed and told me to watch out for pretty women on the sidewalk because they are danger zone, that I would be in trouble (he he he another lesson 101).
At work, I was quiet most of the time, and my homesickness was very conspicuous. A lady coworker had always been nice to me; I enjoyed talking to her about the city, which she was familiar with very well. One day, she told me that her daughter who is in college is coming home for a long weekend and I could take her out if I wanted to. She showed me her picture and wow, she looked Italian like Mona Lisa, the woman that I was in love since I was sixteen. The tiny bells perked me up and I said I would be glad to do it. That Saturday morning, I went to a barber to have my Ringo Starr haircut shortened like Paul Newman, thinking that I might look like Charles Bronson because I had a mustache to add years to my boyish looks.
That evening, I dressed up and put on my best with my sports coat and tie. On my way to her house, I dropped by a flower shop to get a bouquet of flowers for Eleanor, my coworker. I rang the doorbell and Eleanor let me in. I gave her the flowers and Eleanor introduced me to Beth, her daughter who was full of smiles. Along we went and I asked her where she wanted to dine, she knew where the good restaurants were located. She opted for a Polynesian restaurant; she probably considered my familiarity with the food.
We did not have reservation so we had to wait for a while. We stationed ourselves in a corner and Beth talked and talked about college and anything under the sky. Across the room were two Asian (Chinese looking) waiters and they kept on looking at us, my sixth sense telling me that they were talking about us. Finally, we were seated and she ordered crab omelets and I had the same. She had non-alcoholic drink and I had the same because I don’t drink alcohol when I drive. I am one of the 75% of Asians who do not have the enzyme to metabolize alcohol.
While we were eating our dinner, the two waiters kept on looking at us, and I could see them through my side glances. After dinner, we decided to drive around town; she pointed areas that I should avoid at night. About eleven o’clock in the evening, I decided to take her home. I walked her to the door and being a gentleman, I took her hand and kissed it, thanking her for the good time.
As I was driving home, my thoughts lingered back to those two Chinese waiters. I knew for sure why those two squirts were talking about us. My date was about my height but she was twice my weight…(hey guys, there is no lesson 101 here, okay!)