1996. Saturday morning. I hit the showers. Jumped out, and quickly put on my extra medium red T-shirt and nuthugger khaki pants. And then…the most important part of the process…fixing my hair. Seriously, I was like a surgeon when it came to creating the perfect flat-top. Check out my weapon of choice.
Once I received spiky perfection, I hopped in my blue Geo Storm and blasted the new Bone Thugs ‘N Harmony cassette tape on my radio all the way to Marine World(Six Flags). I earned a whopping 3.25 an hour working in the Picnics department. Yes, the pay sucked. Yes, it was hard work. But, to me that was nothing compared to this…
Unnamed boss: Hurry up coconut head…you are too slow. Put on your visor…no on likes your hair anyway.
Me: …k.(no one likes my hair?)
Later that day.
Unnamed boss: Stop standing there you bum….put more chicken on the grill. Put your visor back on…you have a coconut head anyway.
This happened every day. At first I thought it was funny, but then I noticed I was the only one who he treated that way. One afternoon after staring at the mirror to make sure my head wasn’t shaped like a coconut, I walked into the living room with a distraught look on my face. My mother was cooking
Mom: What’s wrong anak?(Tagalog for child)
Spiky-haired sad teen: My boss calls me names…bum. Coconut head…do I have a coconut head?
Mom: No…why is he calling you that? Did you do something wrong?
Spiky-haired sad teen: No…I don’t know why he hates me.
And I walked out…full of teen angst.
The next day I walked into work and it seemed different. One of my supervisors called me over and said we were having a department meeting in ten minutes. This is weird. I walked in and all my co-workers were sitting on benches. I took a seat next to some friends and waited. A few minutes later my boss was standing in front of all of us.
Unnamed Boss: I just wanted to gather all of you and apologize. I have said some mean things and have insulted some of you. It will not happen again…I am sorry.
And just like that, he walked right back into his office. I was stunned. I turned to one of my supervisors…
Spiky-haired teen: What was that about?
Co-worker: Weird right? Someone’s mom called. She complained about name-calling.
I laughed nervously. No, she couldn’t have. But, she did.
Secret Bodyguard: He shouldn’t call you names, I had to call.
My mother has always looked out for me. Through all my awkward teen years….every time a girl broke my heart…she was there. After one particularly tough break-up, she said with tears in her eyes…
“Anak, that’s why I don’t like it when you have a girlfriend…you get hurt, and that’s pain I can’t take away from you..”
I’ve made mistakes. She knew when I was going to make them but she still stood behind me. After I wrecked the Geo Storm, she didn’t care about the car…she was worried about me most of all. And to this day, she has been my silent secret bodyguard looking out for me. She has taught me strength and resolve. Her values have been engraved onto my heart and I thank God every day for blessing me with such a caring and loving mother.
From a coconut head to a mother…I love you.