in case i havent mumbled about it, i have workaholic parents. yes. they do live like a proper first-generation immigrants. i feel badly at times as my life is all about doing as less required things as possible so that just in case something interesting pops up, i could jump on at any point. basically, i like being lazy. they are the inverse, the anti-thesis of me: they work six and a half days a week (sunday is the catch up day where they tries to do whatever that got left during the weekdays), and yes, they do leave the house at 5am for about half-hour commute. then it's worky-worky-worky, till they come home. on the days i head home, i expect them well-after nine in the evening. if not ten. so that's about 16-17 hours of pure work. i have no idea how they do it. i really wish they could hire some helps, but it's difficult because it is rather far to commute. and not to mention the fact that they often forget that for an employee, it's just work, not 'their' work. complicated, yes.
the other thing about having a dry cleaner plant is that it gets incredibly hot. whenever one presses shirts or a coat, there is always some sort of chemical, solvents and various steaming devices, in addition to burning hot irons. during the recent hot spells, it really feels a bit like a hell-hole.
i often think that i should go help them out a bit more, but then i also think that whatever i do can only be a temporary solution. i dont think i should be at the counter anymore (i was, when i was in highschool and was a regular helping kiddo), as it is important to keep a consistent face on the front. i have no idea how some of the machines run nor what the chemicals do (i know not to eat/drink them i suppose). i am not skilled enough to use pressing machines. i can do general cleaning, rolling of coins (once i wrapped over half ton of coins. that's several thousands of dollars. killed me. nearly killed the suspension of the car) and odd things like car oil-change, picking up sundry goods from the local grocery stores, running to the bank, etc.
with minnow swimming across the puddle, i thought it would be important for my consciousness to go and work for a bit. as that situation is a bit of a less-than-ideal for mom/dad. so a rescue-self-from-guilt-mission. for some reason, i totally botched my sleep (i think it's quite more noisy where they live, as granny believes in keeping the windows open...), walked like a zombie to the car and went. at 5am.
and though i do genuinely feel sorry for the situation (i dont feel sorry for them as people, as they have achieved more than what average people could even think of achieving. the sheer will and determination for their work is incredible i think. i, ur, certainly do not have such will power), sometimes, at 5am, monkey can be quite grumpy. esp. when she's trying to work in exchange to relieve self-imposed guilt.
one of the last things i had to do was drop by their accountant, with a cheque. they rarely have time to make it to the accountants during the office time, and it used to be gabe's job. as he drove. as he accumulated countless parking tickets on that very particular spot, year after year. alas, he cant no longer do it, so i didnt think twice, i will get it done. unlike stylish brother, parking with certain air of panache, i took the public transit, groggy from the early morning work. walk up the stairs, and look for mr. accountant's office.
the lady at the desk was perplexed, as much as i was unsure: urr, i have something to drop off for mr. accountant, from mom/dad store? and she says: ahha okay. your older brother (korean term: oppa, an older male sibling) used to do it.
wha? i thought my older bro was always kinda busy with his own stuff. i thought it was gabe, accumulating all those damned parking tickets he plastered his room with? so i had to ask:
was that the kid who was kinda tall, skinny, talk big, have a smile, and sounds like this: (emulate the street-ish gabe talk with a certain degree of carefully devised carelessness)?
yes! that's him. how is he?
well, he wont be coming around anymore, i am sorry to tell you.
where have he gone to?
ah. lady. we lost him way back in april. i am sorry.
what are you talking about?
he was in the west coast and he lost control of his car. he wont be able to come around anymore, i am sorry. so i came for the first time today.
lady at the desk looked as if she was going to choke. then came the tears.
please, is he really gone?
yes, it is unfortunate.
how are your parents?
they are working through it, if not working as much as they could to forget.
how are you?
i am alright, thanks, ma'am.
i didnt have much to say.
i consoled her for next five minutes, as she disappeared into a grief, like thin smoke out of a small candle. and i left. i was tired. i went home and noodled around. till now. this was the biggest sucker punch that gabe delievered yet. for her, everytime he dropped by, he made small talks, ran coffee for her once in a blue moon, made her happy, happy enough to remember him by his gestures and impressions. a genial kid. a swell boy.
alas, no longer.
i am a bit sad. a bit angry. i dont exactly know what i am angry about. i am touched. i miss gabe. the long dog days of summer rolls along in summer humid air. and i wonder all the sudden where he may be. it's your birthday soon buddy.