Behind the counter, I was dwindling the pencil in my hand, waiting for new orders to flow in, observing the quirk and the peculiarities of people. A hand shot up in the sky, weaving in circles, gesturing me for their bills. I dully poked the screen of the monitor to show me the figures of the bill of the table, I got of my chair, plodded my way to the table, uttered the price in a forced vehemence hanging with a counterfeit smile that was rudimentary for this industry.
I trudged my way back to the counter in the same fashion as the searing heat of the midday sun was draining the force out of me. As I was pulling out the notes for the change of the customer, a common, yet interesting and venerable guest walked in. He was swarthy, lanky, spiked-hair, dressed slovenly with a polo t-shirt mottled with black oil. His trousers were also oil-smudged as his shirt, and fitted with a medium-sized boot was odious, filled with scars of his career, a mechanic.
He sat at his usual nook, and waited for me to take his order. As I spoke to him to get his order, he did not reply, I showed him the menu instead. He pointed at the image, cupped his hands that of a big bowl, I nodded as I knew his order, and understood his predicaments. I shoved my thumb up, gesticulated a question asking him for his choice of beverages. He pointed at a cup of Chinese tea on the menu, shivered. I gave him a thumb’s up, and walked back to the counter.
Fried rice, iced Chinese tea. That was his order. I keyed them in accordingly, as I lifted up my head, I saw him talking in hands to his phone. Out of my insatiable inquisitiveness, I served him with the ice Chinese tea, catching a glimpse into his life at the same time. The pixelated screen of his smartphone depicted a complexion of a demure look of a woman of his age, his lover I deduced as he was effusive with happiness when chatting with her, in a language that only the deaf and mute used to communicate. He ate with the phone in front of him, I presumed that they were having lunch through a virtual platform.
I sank back into my place behind the counter, ruminating about this guy who impressed me greatly by the fact he could be independent, and had a lover. Moments passed with orders flying in, and people wanting to foot the bill. A lanky hand shot up waving a twenty ringgit note in his hands, I walked to his place picked up the money, giving him a broad smile. I changed him the exact amount, no more, no less. He trusted me in being honest, and thus I should be. I had an unimpeachable, queer respect for this man.
P.S. JAN 2017
still working, a venerable customer,
a mute and deaf person,
who deserved my utmost respect.