7/07/2012
A bunch of drunk men

I unlock my locker, get the white plastic bag inside, lock the door, undress, and put my work outfit on.

It's Thursday night, which means I'm the Tiger girl. I get to wear this blue and yellow outfit - a top with short sleeves, a mini skirt, the Tiger name on the back. When customers want to buy Tiger beer, I'm the one who gives it to them.

Frankly, my job is to make the customers happy. Scoff all you want, but it's just one of the things you have to do to earn.

And before you ask it, I'm just a waitress. This is not a beerhouse. This is a family restaurant that serves beer. I just happen to have a slim figure, unlike Marlene, our other female waitress, who's fat and old, to put it bluntly.

And besides, it's a Thursday. You don't get families eating chicken inasal at this time. You get men off from work eating crispy pata, and downing bottle after bottle of beer.

Thursday night also means a bunch of regulars. Seven men altogether, from the building across the restaurant - I saw them cross the street a few weeks ago and they didn't recognize me, perhaps because I was wearing my ordinary clothes then. They're mostly in their 40s, although there are two of them in their 30s. I assume they were just hired. And one of them, Sir Mac, the big boss, I think, is closing in on 60.

I head to the ladies' room, freshen up, curl my hair in a bun, check my flats to see if my feet fit snugly, and look at myself in the mirror.

"Hello, Karen," Sir Mac says as I head to their table.

"Hi po," I answer back. There are just six of them tonight.

"Wala si Randy ngayon," Sir Mac says. "Nasa abroad."

"Saan po, sir?"

"Ahhh, sa Bangkok yata. Oo, sa Bangkok."

"Ang layo naman, sir. Hanggang kailan po?"

"Forever na!" That's Sir Allan, one of the thirtysomethings. "Hindi na siya aalis dun. Magugustuhan niya dun, maraming babae!"

"Baka naman lalaki gusto niya," Sir Rex, the other thirtysomething, says. Laughter. "Eh bakit mo tinatanong, Karen?"

"Ahh, mga two months," Sir Mac says. "Pinadala ko dun. May training."

"Ang tagal naman, sir," I say.

My boss told me that, above everything else, I should think of what the customers want at all times. I'll admit, I was creeped out by that thought, but thankfully I haven't had customers who crossed the line. The worst I've had to endure is perhaps the band on the other restaurant attempting to sing Adele.

And Sir Mac's gang? They're quite nice. Sure, when they get drunk they ask me to do things, but it's of the playful kind. I gave them Tiger caps one night, and they asked me to model it for them. They weren't sure if it looked good, they claimed.

Another time they asked me to choose who among them looked the best. Again, my boss: "isipin mo 'yung customer, pero huwag mo masyadong isipin." I chose Randy randomly.

Most of the time, though, they only want me to talk to them.

"So, sir, your Tiger Beer special?" I give them their bucket of beer and another one of those freebies, a bunch of shirts, that Sir Allan and Sir Rex jostle over.

"Actually," Sir Gab, another one of the six, interrupts, "may gusto sana akong ipakiusap sa'yo."

Yikes.

"Ano po 'yun?"

"May pentel pen kayo?"

Mark, one of my fellow servers, takes off without a word. Sir Gab rummages through his bag and finds a sheet of paper. He get the marker, writes "uwi ka na, Randy!", rummages through his bag again, and gets his camera.

"Picture-an mo naman kami," Gab says, giving me his camera.

"Sige po."

I get the camera and try to figure out how to operate it. Mark looks over my shoulder, and I barely notice. The men position themselves in front of the camera, holding up the piece of paper Sir Gab wrote on.

"Okay na, sir?" I point the camera at them and hope I don't do anything wrong. "One, two, three! Isa pa!" I take two pictures.

"Ikaw naman!" Sir Mac tells me, handing over the piece of paper.

"Sige po." I'm trying to hide my excitement. I lift the piece of paper to my chest. "Usog mo ng konti,"  Sir Mac says, and I follow him. He points the camera at me and clicks.

The band next door attempts to sing Adele again.

Never mind, I'll find someone like you...

I take a photo with Sir Mac, with Sir Allan, with Sir Rex - he wanted to be first - with everyone.

"Maiinggit si Randy nito," Sir Rex says.

"Gago, hindi," Sir Allan says. "Marami ngang tsiks sa Bangkok!"

"Gago, lalaki marami dun!"

"Thank you, ha," Sir Mac gestures at me. "Order na lang kami ulit mamaya."

"Okay, sir," I go. I smile, and I walk back to the ladies' toilets, where I look at myself in the mirror, and freshen up yet again.

And your responses...

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