My Place Under The Sun

Friday, December 16, 2005

We All Have To Wash Dishes

A few years ago, I was at a point in my life where nothing seems to go right. I decided to go to the United States and take a breather. As with my other trips to the U.S., I'd jump off Manila and head to San Francisco, CA where my sister lives. However, unlike my other trips, I had no intentions of going sight seeing as I've grown tired of the usual tourist sights and just really wanted to contemplate on things.

After a week or so, I received a call from a family friend who invited me to stay and try my luck in Alaska. "Alaska?!", I thought to myself. At that point in time, all I knew about Alaska was dogsleds, igloos and lots of snow. Dennis and I even joked about creating "golden arches" everytime I had to take a leak and taking two weeks to buy groceries as I had to ride a dogsled going to town. As ignorant as it seems to be, this was the truth. I didn't know anything about the place. Anyway, I took the Alaskan Air from SanFo to Seattle, then Seattle to Juneau, Alaska.

I was welcomed by my hosts and they basically gave me the lowdown on what's in Alaska. Apparently, there a lot of Filipinos living in Alaska. Most of whom worked at cruise ships. I was then that it would take a couple more days to have me set up with a job. I inquired about the job and was told that I would be working at a chinese restaurant where I was to wash dishes, The Golden Palace.

You could imagine the struggle I went through during the first few weeks. I had no experience whatever to being a dishwasher, heck, I don't even remember having to wash the dishes at home. Mr. and Mrs. Tang, the owners of the restaurant, were patient enough to give me time to get my "groove" going. My friends were waiters and Sam, the cook, during lull hours we would exchange stories and they didn't believe what I back in the Philippines. They said I was luck, I thought otherwise.

I had to learn how to be friends with people whom I don't even notice back then, I had to live with what I had and the money left in my pocket. There was no one and nowhere to run to. I was alone. Yes, there were times I cried, wanting to give up and go home but I had no money, forcing me to work some more and tips...well, who tips a dishwasher? (You should)

A few more weeks later, my co-workers became good friends. I learned many valuable lessons in life from them and the taught me how to be myself. The trip humbled me and made me realize how wonderful life can be...again.

The trip to Alaska was more than a job hunt, it was a retreat from all the things I went through the previous years. Having no job and coming out from a relationship, I knew it was time for some changes. Having no friends and relatives made me re-think my life plans. When I felt I was ready, I saved enough money from tips and my salary to buy a ticket back to California. It's as if I was renewed and everything I once was, was washed away with the food, grime and oil.

Once in a while we reach a point in our lives where we it seems that there was nowhere to go and we feel that we are alone. It is at these times that we need to go out and wash dishes.


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