With the recent closing of my commercial print shop, for the first time in over 30 years I have found myself looking for work. After decades of spending buku bucks and countless brain cells keeping up with digital imaging technology, I thought I'd revisit my misspent youth, dumb it down a bit, and get back into the restaurant trade.
Somehow I ended up as a part time prep/utility/dishwasher at Kimbat's Thai Garden, a small, mother-daughter run place near the harbor. Two nights a week, paid in cash. The servers, two pretty thai girls, shared their tips, and I'd walk out of there paid as if I were doing framing carpentry. My wife and I first met Kimbat almost 20 years ago, the day she married a business associate. Demur and gracious with a pretty smile is how I thought of her then and thru the years, as we'd print her take-out menus, or have a great lunch at the Thai Garden. All until recently, that is.
My first few shifts were uneventful but busy, and kind of surreal. As the only man on the staff and the only non-Thai speaker, I was definitely a fish out of water. Still every one was easy to work with, and by the time I got home and showered I'd have one glass of cabernet and then sleep thru the night like a baby. Then one evening as I was walking into the kitchen, Kimbat instructed me to unload 5 kilos of frozen calimari from the back of her Lexus SUV. As I put it into the sink, I noticed the pull date to be over a year ago! When I asked Kimbat if she were aware of this possible food quality issue, she quickly told me "never mind! the way I cook it will taste like caught today!" The first dark page in this little book had just been opened.
When I came in the following night, daughter Chailai and Kimbat were in an animated discussion that was quickly moving ugly. Trying my best to ignore the bitter and spiteful sounding Thai mom, I'd hear an occasional english insult like "useless daughter" thrown in to season it up. As Chailai stormed out, fighting back tears, a handful of padthai flew across the room at her with the near velocity of a Tim Lincecum fastball. As the noodles slammed off the wall and I looked up from my onions, Kimbat angrily sneered "don't stand there boy! clean it up!" Well I do have a thick skin, and the cash was good. So the dude abides.
We were getting into some drier weather and the following night I rode my Norton to work. I parked in a visible spot not far from the Thai Garden kitchen door, came in and put my gear atop stacked cases of coconut milk. Mother and daughter had made up, and were enjoying a plate of Costco ravioli together, chatting in Thai like best friends forever. The rest of the night was easy, not much business, or tips for that matter. As I was collecting my gear and walking out the door, Kimbat approached me. "you motorcycle?" she asked. "yes, it helps keep me young" I smiled. "No park front row! front row for customer car!" she ordered. "Jeez, the dragon lady is back" I thought, as I smiled and nodded. "Got it boss, no park front row"
The next night was Friday, my second and last night of the week. Not wanting to leave my scruffy but prized 750 parked in the darker rows of the lot, I shut it off, and pushed it up onto the sidewalk and parked about 10 meters away from Kimbat's front door, aside an empty storefront. It was a busy night, the book was full, and the place was slammed until closing time. After a night like that, the cleanup was accordingly involved, we didn't finish until almost 11 and I was wiped out. "God I need a drink" I thought as I walked on the sidewalk past the front door to get my bike. As I was backing it around to face my direction out, Kimbat rushed out her front door towards me. "Hey no park here too" she told me. "Customer no like motorcycle, motorcycle druggie!" stunned, I was at a loss for words. 'Really? but I'm no druggie, and I'm far from your door…" "Never mind!" she snapped "you no come back next week, you fired!" she said smiling. "You too slow anyway."
Too slow? well my Siamese blossom, you take your shiny Lexus, and I'll take my tenacious old 750, we'll go out to Kamehameha Avenue, and when the light turns green…
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Last edited by DonOR
on Mon Mar 06, 2017 3:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.
98% of all Harleys ever sold are still on the road. The other 2% made it home.
1972 Combat Roadster