Some Kind of Jedi
Pidgin guerrilla takes a look at office life
(page 1 of 4)
Illustration: Jon Murakami
This fictional short story will be published in March in the local journal Bamboo Ridge
I dunno how for respond to da boss’s question when she asks me, “What are you, some kind of Jedi?”
I nevah intend for anybody see what I wuz doing. I wuz jus kickin’ it at my desk, waiting for my supah slow computer for boot up. Sometimes I hold my breath for see if I can hold my breath longer than takes da computer for get onto da network. Usually I lose cuz da computer takes more longer. Or actually, maybe I win yeah, cause for five minutes a day I get paid to sit dea and do nahting.
So anyway, dea I wuz on company time getting paid for play around with da office supplies. For fun I wen place my pencil on da edge of my desk wit half da pencil extending ova da end. Den using my breath I wen move da pencil while simultaneously moving my hand as if for give da illusion dat I wuz guiding da pencil’s movement wit my mind. I wuz impress that I nevah even spit or anything. I wuz too busy giving myself some mental self props and considering one serious career change to master illusionist for notice who else might’ve been looking. I wuzn’t aware I had one audience.
I not sure if da Boss being serious, if she really tinks I tink I might be one Jedi. Da Boss, her, she so mainlandy, she no laugh when we cut each oddah down and tease each oddah. We jus get diff’rent senses of humor I tink, no? For example, one time my office co-worker Michelle Fernandez left work early. Michelle wen gather up all her tings, put ‘em in her Tokidoki bag, and wuz telling everybody happy weekend. an’den she left. And not like she wuz fully for blame, cuz when she told bye, everybody told bye back. I tink she even had da Boss fooled dat wuz pau hana time, or should I say quitting time, cuz I no tink da Boss knows what is pau hana. But anyway, everybody started getting ready for go too until Tony da clock watcher wen tell, “Eh, only 3:30 yet. Where she went?”
Michelle nevah realize she left early until she wuz in her car driving half way home and da guy on da radio said da time. For da life of her, she said she didn’t know hakum she thought wuz pau work. Her mind jus zoned out. Now when come aftahnoon time and everybody stay coming all futless and like go home early, we remind people, “Eh, no do da Michelle now.” Or if anybody do someting das scatterbrain, we tell, “Eh, who you tink you, Michelle Fernandez?” We jus rag on poor Michelle. But das how, ah? Pretty much, once you make one mistake at da office, you going forevah be reminded.
And we could probably get written up by Human Resources for doing dis all da time, but whenevah somebody makes one mental error we play da race card and we blame ‘em on top their ethnicity even though we know dat their ethnic backgrounds nevah have nahting for do with their screw up. Like if Lisa Kim forgets for put da ting she Xeroxing underneath da cover of da Xerox machine and makes 246 copies of nahtingness before she realizes her mistake den we say “Eh, you stupid Yobo,” cuz Lisa’s Korean. Or if David Hiromoto files one folder under da first name instead of da last name, cuz sometimes people get confusing names like Parker Bryan where dey get one first name dat sounds like one last name and one last name dat sounds like one first name, and so eventually when da missing file turns up undah P instead of B we tell “Eh, you stupid Buddahead.” We do dat for everybody at work. You stupid Buk Buk. You stupid Pa-ke. You stupid Popolo. You stupid Haole. You stupid Kanak. You stupid Potagee. You stupid So-le. For little while dat new girl Debra Miyashiro had immunity cuz nobody knew what for call one stupid Okinawan, until finally somebody came up wit “You stupid Chewbacca” and so it stuck.
In our office get people who is of da kine mixed race ancestry too, so we usually jus go by dominant ethnicity. Or if dey hapa, if dey half half exack, we be nice about it, we let dem choose which of their ethnicities is da more stupider one.
Da Boss, she ej-u-ma-cated, but I no tink she catch on dat we only making fun. She jus tinks she surrounded by one office full of racists. Das why no one in da office has dared for tease her yet. We dunno how she would reack. Plus nobody knows what her precise ethnic background is and everybody too sked for ask. She no catch on we only fully tease da people we know good. But I guess no can blame. I tink she extra nerjous cuz when she first came ova hea had dat parking space incident in Waikele dat wuz in da news. So now everytime she hears somebody in da office calling somebody one stupid someting, she automatic tink going get beef. But ironicallies if had one beef she might not even know, cuz I no even know if she know what one beef is. One day people in da office might start yelling “Beef, beef” and she might jus very well tink we all celebrating da deliciousness of da new McDonald’s McTeri Burger. I gotta remembah if anybody starts fighting I gotta yell, “Altercation, altercation.”
“Why yes, I am Jedi.” I tell da Boss as clearly as possibles so as no mo’ da miscommunications. Usually da Boss gets on my case in meetings and stuff. She says I not assertive enough and I get one tendency for sound unsure. “Fo’ real?” I ask. I no really know why she always telling dat. Maybe I gotta talk more loud, or more long, or more someting.
I keep her criticism in mind as I rephrase my answer for make ‘em sound more, pardon da pun, “forceful.” “Why, yes. I am Jedi. Jedi as defined as being one person who is of belonging to da Jedi Knights of da Jedi Order. Jedi, da peacekeepers of da Republic. That is. . . who. . . I. . . am.”
I wait for her reaction. But even with all my over acting, I still no get any acknowledgement from her. She jus turns away and heads down da hall. So I shrug my shoulders and I whisper “I am Jedi” again to myself and das when I realize it wuz da answer I had been searching for all along. Without looking for da solution it jus revealed itself to me. It is da Jedi way.
These past few months I had been looking for religion. Not because I wuz doing any kinda spiritual soul searching or seeking any kinda answers to da mysterious workings of da universe. I was looking for one religion for use as my excuse for work.
I’m all down wit holiday celebrations. Usually if someone calls me up for one party, I’m dea. Before our new Boss came we used to have one all out, end of da year potluck party. Wuz mean. People would bring pulehu kal-bi from Kiawe Grill, meat jun from Young’s Kal-Bee, chicken katsu, chicken adobo, fried chicken from Lahaina Chicken, all diff’rent kine poke from Poke Stop, kalua pig, sushi, fried noodles, manapua from Kwon On, gau gee from Waimalu Chop Suey. Ho, used to be onreal I tell you. Chree years ago when da Boss first came we told her da routine, dat we usually have one end of da year potluck. So she said okay. . . and she brought. . . cheese and crackers.
Nobody knew what for say. Tony blurted out “Oh, look so. . . crackah” before he realized his answer could be misconstrued as being racist. So wuz one good ting da Boss wuzn’t really listening if in case she wuz little bit Caucasian. Everybody else wuz all like, “Oh, so you jus spread da cheese on da top?” and “Try look, if you put one noddah cracker on top, you can make one cheese and cracker sandwich.”
Da following year wuz even mo’ good fun cuz da Boss brought. . . cole slaw. I tink dat one wuz even more puzzling. Everybody wuz all talking amongst themselves, “What’s in cole slaw?” and “Is cole slaw a food or a condiment. Cause everyone’s supposed to bring something FOOD.” Personally, I not one big fan of cole slaw, like everytime I go KFC I ask for two mash instead of one mash and one cole slaw, but so as not for be rude I wen go try sample some of da Boss’ one, which tasted remarkably like da kine dey get at KFC. To me, cole slaw not as good as mac salad, or potato salad, or even bettah yet, da potato mac salad like da kine get at Shiro’s. Apparently planny people had similar feelings as me cuz da Boss’ cole slaw wuz cause for quite one stir.
“Eh, wassup wit dis? Da first time wuz excuse cuz maybe she nevah know how we go ballz to da wallz on food, but wassup wit da cole slaw dis year?”
“She ruining da parties cuz she brings her weird quote unquote food.”
Me, I get da coolest head outta everybody, so I reminded everybody how, “Das unz, no, for diss somebody else’s food offerings. You no see me teasing Debra for bringing weird kine left ova pig parts.”
“Aye shaddup. Before time da rejeck parts wuz poor man’s food, but now, das all da expensive one, ah? You seen how much Pig Feet Soup cost-es nowdays?”
“Any boss should know bettah. It’s jus common sense. She da Boss and she make chree times what most of us make and she bring da cheapest ting.”
“Maybe da cheese she wen use for her cheese and crackers last year wuz da kine 100-year old gourmet cheese,
“ I tried for defend. “But we jus nevah know wuz gourmet cheese, cuz we not da kine cheese connoisseurs das why.”
“Bulai! I remembah dat cheese,” Tony wen tell. “Da ting said Kraft on top.”
And maybe it’s bachi, but apparently da Boss sensed dat people wuz disgruntled wit how da whole party ting turned out last year. She could probably jus feel da vibe. I tink da Boss thought da party wuz one extra burden for everybody cuz it would be as if she wuz asking all da workers for spend choke money on party food during one time when everybody’s wallets wuz taking one hit due to da economic downturn. But in reality people wuzn’t salty dey had for spend so much on food, dey wuz jus salty because da Boss wuzn’t quicker for catch on dat as da Boss she should be spending way more than any of us, no?
Da Boss must be tinking she doing us one favor dis year by getting rid of da party, and instead, substituting ‘em with her Secret Santa idea with one ten dollar cap and no party. She probably tink she saving us money and everybody going dig her plan. And no get me wrong, Secret Santa can be fun. I’m down wit gifts and giving. But I tink she missing da point. For us, da good fun part is not in da getting, but raddah in da social aspeck of da present opening. Secret Santa only works if you get one party where everybody can see you opening up your crazy kine gifts from your co-workers. No more party means no fun if you gotta open up your inflatable rubbah companionship doll at home by yourself or worser yet in front your family. Party-free Secret Santa, das dumb, no? Das why I protesting. Das why I wen decide I going try for come up with some kinda reli-ja-mous reason for get out of participating. I figgah da best excuse would be one religious excuse.
But choosing one religion’s proving for be more problematic than I thought. Cuz as one youth I nevah went church, so I no really know so much about religion. You see, my faddah wuz one man who wuz about “practically.” His rule wuz, so long as it costed “practically” nathing den wuz okay wit him. Dat wuz pretty much his rule for everyting. We nevah had fireworks for New Year’s cuz my faddah always said, “Playing poppa-hu, das like trowing da money away. Das not practically.”
An’den, I remembah too dat we had for watch TV in da dark cuz my faddah always said, “If you leave da light on, das pohö da electric. You tink electricity grows on trees?”
For him all wasteful spending wuz “You tink wotevah-it-is grows on trees?” I dunno where he picked up dat saying from or if he knew dat da real saying wuz “You tink MONEY grows on trees?” And not, “You tink candy grows on trees?” or “You tink Kikaida grows on trees?” or “You tink Castle Park grows on trees?”
And I remembah da one time his favorite saying actually did make sense, da ting wuz still off. We went Times Supah Market and lychee wuz in season so I asked him if we could put some in our wagon. Of course he said, “You tink lychee grows on trees?” So it did make sense little bit. Cuz lychee does grow on trees. But it would only make sense if his answer wuz , “Why yes, we can get some lychee, “ and not “No, we cannot, even though lychee does grow on trees.” When I pointed dis fack out to him I got in trouble for being one talk backer. When we went home he washed my mout out wit soap for giving him lip. I felt like telling him, “Dad, you wasting soap. You tink soap grows on trees?” but I no tink he would’ve appreciated da humor.
Growing up I had lotta friends who went church. All my friends seemed for have fun going to all their church functions like picnics and excursions and stuff. I remembah brining up da subjeck of maybe our family possibly going for check out one church jus for see what it wuz like.
“Dad, you tink we should go church? Almost everybody I know goes.”
“Church, das only for rich guys,” My faddah wen tell. For my faddah, dat wuz one noddah one of his favorite tings for say if I evah asked for someting.
“Dad, how come I cannot get new clothes?”
“New clothes, das only for da rich guys.”
“Dad, how come I cannot get one license to drive?”
“Driving, das only for da rich guys.”
“Dad, how come I cannot go prom?”
“Prom? Das only for da rich guys.”
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