[ Pssst… if you read this and are a friend or acquaintance of the subject of this particular blog, don’t tell her OK? 🙂 Belated happy birthdays to dear friend and Blitz-mate Dodie deGuzman – Gutierrez, and kabatch Danny Lua and Michael Tan, now let’s cross our fingers for the All Blacks ! ]
IT”S BEEN a whirlwind 18 months for esposa hermosa, time almost seems to have flown by (forgive the trite hyperbole), but how else would you have described it if in said span of time you experienced your first international flight, settled in her first foreign home, worked in a first-ever foreign job, gotten married, a first in almost everything in fact, and had she not paused in her spinning-top daily sked to take stock of what she’s done so far, wouldn’t even have realized the enormity of what she’s done. Still it’s worthwhile to celebrate a milestone here and there, and probably as good a milestone as any is her first offer of a fulltime job.
To put it in context, NZ is currently suffering one of its worst unemployment situations in recent memory, hovering between 6 to 10 percent the last eight quarters, and superskilled and ably skilled Pinoy compatriots have endured the Sisyphean dilemma of choosing between vacancies that require unrealistic qualifications and accepting job offers that are several notches below professional and educational credentials.
Perhaps it was just as well that E.H. wasn’t aware of these realities, because she was prepared to accept the first gig that came her way. I guess it shouldn’t be too surprising that anything involving fashion, cosmetology or the various arts dedicated to prettifying the fairer sex would be close to heart, she is after all a typical Pinay who loves looking and feeling confident, and what better way than to make herself look beautiful?
That’s how she got her first job as a nail technician, needing only skills that she’d been familiar with since her teens. But because the idea of pre-set, template-style nail designs didn’t catch on, after a few months it became obvious to her that she needed more income and the only way to do this was either get a second gig or work more hours from her present job. Since the second alternative wasn’t about to come soon, she sharpened her eyes for a vacancy.
It hadn’t occurred to her that her skills and confidence level were good enough for a full-time job, and when I mentioned the tantalizing prospect to her, she merely shrugged her shoulders que sera sera-style and said kung uukol bubukol.
An unlikely gig prospect revealed itself : somebody had been looking for a no-nonsense, energetic and preferably Asian worker to fill shifts at the neighborhood mall’s biggest sushi bar.
Why no-nonsense? There was no time for banter, clockwatching or long breaks, as the sushi bar was a pagoda of activity (a little pun there) from opening to closing, Kiwis having found out the little secret of the Japanese : sushi rolls are an inexpensive, nutrition and energy filled lunch takeaway ideal for every sort of meal away from home. And the famously tasty wasabe and soy sauce combination certainly didn’t hurt.
Why energetic? Well, in the nature of non-stop, New York minute type of jobs, there was an excess of activity involved, and if you were the brooding, deliberate kind of worker, you probably wouldn’t last long in the job.
Why Asian? The answer, as Mahal beheld the Pinoy, Korean and Chinese (but curiously, non-Japanese) roster, simply lay in image. Just as staffers without olive skin wouldn’t be a good fit for Indian restos, anyone who didn’t remotely look like someone from the Land of the Rising Sun didn’t lend much authenticity to the product. I know it’s a subjective comment (like all my other comments) but that’s how I rationalized it. So E.H. familiarized herself with the sushi rolling pad, the giant rice cooker and the bento bar, and joined the ranks of sushi soldiers while serving the hungry but taste-conscious Kiwi workforce Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends.
*** *** *** *** ***
The most recent job offer as you might think appealed to her womanly inclinations almost instantly. Retail selling of fashionable Clothes, bags and accessories. Would you know any Pinay who wouldn’t be attracted to such a job? Nope, she answered, and she was certainly no exception, as she marveled at her good fortune. All it would take was more than a passing interest in the merchandise, to be a quick study in the pricing and size definition of the brand, and an eye for whether the item of sale looked good on the potential buyer. Could Mahal nail the requirements?
Hello? and raised eyebrow were all I got from her.
Given the pamasahe, the long-term consequences, and job stability issues, Mahal is as of now still deliberating between her present job, which she loves, and her new job offer, which she suspects she will enjoy. Whatever she decides, all I know is that she has already gone far beyond the first few steps she made on the Wellington tarmac, just a year-and-a-half ago. Congrats, Mahal !
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