“You’re very exotic,” he said, in a soft voice.
I pushed my heavy fringe off my face and returned with his Satay chicken, placing it on the vinyl tablecloth along with his cutlery.
The coloured lights danced around the window behind him and I could see it was getting dark outside.
The rest of the staff chatted out the back in-between making orders of vegetarian wontons, garlic pepper pork, and sweet and sour—not a traditional Thai meal, but it catered towards Kiwi taste buds.
It was a warm, quiet night and I could feel my skin stick to the lining of my pink uniform, with its mandarin style collar and straight skirt that I always found impossible to walk in.
I poked my head around the side of the large refrigerator and smiled at the kitchen hand. He was a tall quiet Irish guy in his forties. His wife was Thai and worked as a cook at the restaurant. She could barely speak English, but I could understand her quirky sense of humour.
At the end of the night she would cook me a dish to take home—usually a beef salad—each time making it hotter, until I could no longer taste the delectable slices of meat and coriander with mint, but craved the rush of chilli and anticipated a mild sweat. She was building up my tolerance to hot food, but it also made her laugh uncontrollably as she watched me taste it.
My boss was a 5’4” Pakeha guy with small-man syndrome. A government worker by day, and socially awkward restaurant owner by night, who would wander between the kitchen and customers with a concerned look on his face, expecting something to go wrong.
During the early part of the week he alternated shifts with his younger brother: a taller, burly family guy who rubbed his hands together whenever a good-looking woman came through the door. Tonight he was happy to wait on the table of the woman in the tight red dress, giving her his utmost attention.
The guy by the window had almost finished his satay dish.
He wanted to order dessert and moved to take my hand.
“Will you sit and join me?” he asked.
“Sorry, I’m working.” I shrugged and advised he order the sticky rice with coconut milk for dessert. “It comes with ice-cream and honey.”
“Are you free after work?”
It was 9:25pm. I disappeared into the storeroom and closed the door behind me, relieved to be removing the pink uniform with its multi-coloured hem.
I got changed and walked out into the restaurant.
The man, who was now eating his sticky rice dessert, did a double take and his jaw visibly dropped, as I headed towards the door.
I had removed my brown bobbed wig, revealing a shaved head.
Very exotic, indeed, I smiled.
Style File: I immediately fell in love with this Otsu Magic Melody Dress with it’s kimono-esque sleeves by Wellington-based designer Yuka Maud. The dress also comes in black, but I’m a sucker for chambray and the ease of the fabric. I’ve paired it with my favourite Spring Court B2 canvas boots.