I am not allowed to be pissed off. I can’t be angry. Rage is forbidden. No wonder I am claustrophobic. I am suffocated by the pressure of my rules squeezing me tight like a boa constrictor, squeezing the life out of me. I get to live life as a sucked out shell with a smile on my face. I aim to please.
That is how I earn my worth. I am of service. Let me help you. I will make you happy. I am a service professional at the age of 14 busing tables, bringing bread, and fetching water. I get to please everyone. The waiters, the owners, the chefs, the customers. It is an extravaganza of pleasing. I wear my black Chinese slippers, bus girl uniform, and a smile, always a smile, always a *#$ smile. I can feel myself recoil from my anger. I can feel my hatred of it and myself. I can feel me distancing myself from my rage. I force it to be silent, invisible, unfelt, and unacknowledged. But it has to come out somewhere.
It was early in my shift. There was a large round table of eight in the corner. They were American. Loud. Jovial. Happy. At the beginning of my shift, I stood on a chair in the middle of the room to light the candelabra, but it will be a while before candlelight imbues the room with its soft glow. It was the early evening. The first seating and it was still bright outside. The view of the straits filled the picture windows.
I arrived at the table of eight in this five-star fine dining establishment that overlooks the Juan de Fuca Straits from the Canadian side and ask, “Would you like some bread?”
My clothing was still clean and fresh. My white blouse unblemished by food spatter. My blue and white floral skirt, smooth, not yet wrinkled and limp. My hair was pulled back in a ponytail with a covered rubber band. Even though I dress plainly, I am told I look exotic. Most guests ask my nationality seemingly not to notice or care that they look at me like an animal in a zoo. They seem to think it is their right. Part of their dining experience. If they could get away with prodding and poking me I am sure they would.
The briny sea air filled the room with a freshness of ozone and seaweed that is pleasant to my nostrils. It reminds me that the untamed wild is not far off. The customers were relaxed. They wore casual clothing. The men in khaki pants and pastel short-sleeved shirts. The women in lightweight summer dresses, an array of blue, yellow, pink, and purple. They were large people physically and metaphorically. They took up more space than the corner they were sitting in. The white table cloth was pristine, and it’s stark modernity contrasted with the antique wooden chairs and their handmade circular quilted seat cushions that were tied to the chair spindles so they didn’t fall off. There was only one set of salt and pepper on the table. Plain, white ceramic. The guests looked up at me welcoming. “Ain’t you just the prettiest of the pretties!” said one of the men. I smiled and placed the basket of buns fresh from the bun oven in the kitchen on the table and walked away.
The next time I approached their table I brought ice water. Americans like their water cold. The pitcher was full and in one deft move, I poured the entire pitcher into the lap of the gentleman to my left. It was, of course, an accident, but the anger has to come out somewhere. The rage creates so much pressure it sometimes just tumbles out.
Rohini Ross is passionate about helping people wake up to their full potential. She is a transformative coach, leadership consultant, regular contributor to Thrive Global, and author of the short-read Marriage. You can get her free eBook Relationships here. Rohini has an international coaching and consulting practice based in Los Angeles helping individuals, couples, and professionals embrace all of who they are so they can experience greater levels of well-being, resiliency, and success. Rohini is the co-founder of The Rewilding Guide Training, The 29-Day Rewilding Experience, and The Rewilding Community. You can also subscribe to Rohini’s weekly blog on her website, rohiniross.com. You can also follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and watch her Vlogs with her husband. To learn more about her work go to her website, rohiniross.com.