In She I Love
She comes home, muscles aching, and all she wants is to sink into a mountain of blankets. Before she can relax though, she must tend to her daily chores. I try to read my mother’s face, it is nearly impossible to determine what new troubles she has encountered today.
Yesterday, it was an irresponsible teenage cashier. Hungover from a night of drinking, he decided not to show up for his regular shift. Unable to find a replacement cashier in such a short notice, my mother labored through his share of work on top of her own. That day, she worked over twelve hours without a single break.
The day before, it was an unsatisfied customer. An employee had gone home ill before he could clean a kitchen mess; as the remaining workers struggled to fill his role, the customers grew impatient. One particularly furious customer—oblivious of the complications— hurled a flood of swears at my mother. But “the customer is always right”; to my mother, this rude man had every right to be angry. She repeatedly apologized, with her head bowed and her broken English.
On such days, I offer to help, but my mother refuses. My rejected offers are often followed by scoldings that lecture me to spend my precious time studying rather than trying to help her at the restaurant.
When the day is finished, these ill employees, impatient customers and twelve-hour shifts etched in her face disappear into a smile. My mother’s bright energy is not bound by language, either. Her experience working with people of different cultures helps her pick up new words so she can quip with her employees, no matter where they come from.
My mother is not the small and delicate woman many perceive her to be. She is a giant character of immeasurable height. She is a woman full of ethos. A hardcore food lover. A stickler for meticulous plate arrangements. This is what I love her for.