It’s 2 am. In one hour, I will have to start a new day, but my today is hardly done.
Half an hour ago it would be easy to blame it to the cats. Each of The Whiskers’ Syndicate with their own antics and personality; sometimes annoying, often endearing, always entertaining; a perfect distraction that never fails.
But now that the last shadow of their upright tails and galloping silhouettes had died down by the moon, I am back with my cellphone, that I have been using as a calculator, a mixed salad of bills and receipt of the ongoing repair, and the bitterness of an ass hole.
Apologize for the language, but there is one in the team. Some tough anti emancipation chauvinist who still lives in 16th century thinking that woman is nothing but a bed mat, a sex slave, and brainless masochist. This tough guy has been lifting his nose as high as sky every time he pass me while subtly whispered some sex offending words that reduce my kind, sometimes race, into the sort of garbage.
I have been quiet because my mind is too full with all sort of things, and I figured I don’t have to handle him as long as his supervisor still realize that I am the one who pays their salary, but at a certain day when he sings out loud, all day long, for two days in a row about chickens (chicken is an Indonesian slang for whores), as an assault because I told him directly to stop goofing around with his team mate the whole day and do his job, this one particular brainless masochist strikes back.
There’s a 5 centimetres (2 inches) gap between my wall and the house next door, and I told the supervisor to manage the gap. The supervisor told him to fill the gap with cement when the wall is done and dried, and there he is singing about chickens again, this time while walking around me three times.
He must have thought he’s a winning savage who dances around his victim before boiling her into a soup; while the only thing that boiled is my blood. Lucky his supervisor saw what happened, call him, reprimand him, and send him back to his work.
I am not sure what he is trying to prove, or if he is just angry that his supervisor is sided with a woman he seems to despise, but he work very fast. Brick after brick, one scoop of mortar after another, while singing even louder about the chicken. But his work is not neat. There’s a lot of mortar falling to the ground, and he broke many bricks that he throws away haphazardly to the ground, some hit his team mate and irritate them.
I watch him with a smile. Someone is digging his own grave while singing about whores.
And God never sleeps. He saw what is happening and deliver His people, me, from injustice.
As soon as his wall is done, he jumped down from the scaffolding, get himself a bucket of dirt, and fill the gap as full as he can.
10 minutes into his gallantry, the still-wet wall crumbled.
And while that happened, his supervisor looked in disbelief, and the team mate who got hit repeatedly with bricks failed miserably to hold his laugh.
OK… who’s the idiot again?
I walk straight from the house right to the supervisor and clearly stated that I don’t want to pay for damaged or wasted materials, that I will cut the money from the agreed contract, and that I want to make sure this is the last incident and if there’s still some shit left in that worker’s brain, he’d better realize that I, a woman, is working hard for this money, that I am responsible for each penny spend, and most of all, I pay their salary, and that include his.
From the corner of my eyes I saw the most sour pout ever, though the chicken song is still on air a few minutes later, though I heard the supervisor said “One more tune about chicken and you’re dead, how’s that? Are you insane or idiot? Don’t you realize what situation you are in?”
Three hours later I was on the phone ordering some material when I heard water gushing in the back. I politely apologize to the material shop, hung up, run to the back and found the next door’s house’s water pipe burst out.
It was such a magnificent sight. A lot of water against the sun, a little rainbow, and a wall fountain in my backyard. The only thing is I didn’t remember ordering some Niagara Falls with the contract.
I am lucky because the owner of the house was out at that time, so the owner won’t come over to yell at me; those workers are unlucky because that means they have to wait until the water run out before they can fix the pipe and meanwhile, has to throw away all the water from the backyard, one bucket after another.
Where Niagara Falls um… well… fall.
At the end of the day, the supervisor sent everyone home and ask if I am going to cut the extra repair from their contract money too. I said yes, of course. The supervisor told me that they made little money and if I continue to cut their money they won’t profit.
I told him that if he is interested in making profit, he should train his men better than allowing them to sexually harass a patron – since he too has been quiet about the chicken song – and that I have lost trust in him despite all the reference he gave me. Two stupid incidents in one day is too much for me.
He tried to persuade me into keeping the contract and cut only half the damage. However, I never intend to squander the money we all fund raise with sweat and tears so at the very end, I fired them still.
And that is partly why I am sleepless tonight. I have to find out how much material I lost and how much money I should make to replace the loss because I am not sure I can fund raise for more.
So the repair was halted for three days, while I work to gather the money, and looking for new repairmen, and in those three days I felt that, the temperature is steadily increasing.
This is not Bandung. Bandung is never this hot, even in the dog days of summer. All of a sudden there’s no rain, no wind, just the increasing heat.
Regardless, I interviewed other repairmen after work. Learning from past experience, I want to see the whole team instead of only the supervisor, and found one that are reasonably priced and seemingly pretty decent. Their houses are nearby, and better yet, they are ready to start immediately.
The answer come from my brother the next day. He called to tell me that Mt. Kelud, a few hours drive from my family home had suddenly exploded, and my family house was covered in volcanic ash 1 inch thick. He also told me that the wind is going to the west, and Central Java already ashed under.
It’s raining ash the next morning for the whole day, and the days after. Bandung was all white.
It’s not all that bad in our place. The ash was not as thick. Though we have sore eyes, and occasional cough, we can still handle it.
What we can’t handle was the heat wave. We were at roughly 40 degrees Celcius (104 F) at 6 am and climbing along the sun. I usually have to chase the cats around to get them into the cage every morning, but this time, they voluntarily went into the house and piled themselves up in our tiny bathroom and around the air purifier that I turned on almost 24 hours a day. I don’t think I want to confine them in the cage the whole day and let them bake under the heat, so I called the repairman and postpone the starting date until the temperature dropped a little.
The heat took us another three days, during which we ironically wish for the rain (that we loathe so much ) to fall.
God is merciful to our prayers. It rains during the weekend, washing away all the ash, and bring some relief to our lungs. It brings the temperature nearly normal, and so after a week of Siesta, The Whiskers’ Syndicate is back to track toward dry and warm sanctuary.
What comes next? The second round of repair, with a whole new team, up to the completion of our sanctuary.
Here’s a spoiler: