Do you know the feeling when your boss lights his joint, approaches you, pats you on the back, says that he couldn’t have found a better employee anywhere in Europe and opens you a fourth bottle of beer, while dancing and barking to the beat of music? No?
And Piotrek does.
Frankie comes to Malacca
Almost no one sticks to their original name here, after all, Malacca is a city of artists and artists have pseudonyms. Or bad memory for actual names. Piotr was re-named already on the second day there and what you need to know is that during our two-month stay in Malacca, while he was working at Bernie’s bar and I waited on tables in a Chinese restaurant, Frankie became a legendary figure.
There he was, my introvert husband, becoming the brightest star of Malacca’s social life, getting invited to one dinner party after another, returning home well after the time universally recognized as decent, and I greeted more and more newcomers in my restaurant who were exclaiming right from the doorstep – Hanna! We were at your husband’s bar, he sent us here for dessert!
And so I would give them their desserts, with the greatest grace and the widest of smiles, and my boss said nothing to me, he did not pat me on the back, he certainly did not open a fourth bottle of beer for me, and how am I supposed to have a sense of self-esteem here…?
On the other hand, my main motivation for taking on waitressing in a non-tipping country was the fact that I managed to pass through high school and college earning my living solely on my lush foreign language skills and excellent pedagogical approach. If someone ever wanted to offer me millions of golden coins for distributing meals, while I had gathered my experience (as a consumer) mainly in a students’ canteen, where sliding a plate through the counter with a hearty shout one tomato soup was my indicator of good customer service, it would be good to verify these standards and learn how to serve coffee without spilling it on customers, who don’t tip anyway.
Frankie’s approach to work included giving his 280%, regardless of the boss’s requirements and remuneration, because for Frankie the best remuneration is the feeling that he couldn’t have done anything better, so it’s no wonder that after his leaving every employer sheds one tear after another, in quantities sufficient to water all plants in the office.
Frankie and the French fries
Therefore, where Frankie’s responsibility is to take out the beer from the refrigerator, pass it to the bar and refill the fridge, he rearranges the whole stock so that half of the space is filled with beer, refreshments and snacks, and the other – with logic and efficiency. When he is asked to take the French fries out from the freezer, throw them into the deep frier and serve on a plate with salt and ketchup, he creates a piece of culinary art worthy of a three-star Michelin restaurant, twice-fried, in 120 and then in 200 degrees, just until they reach the color of golden coins dipped in saffron and the crunchiness of delicate brushwood, which would satisfy the most refined beavers.
Bernie, by employing Frankie, within a week became the owner of the place serving the best chilled and most logical beer accompanied by French fries which had customers returning especially for them.
Frankie and Frankie Jr
On that memorable evening at 10:00 pm sharp I took off the apron that informed the passers-by that I was the one juggling their bowls of soup and dessert plates and cycled over to the riverside to see how things were at our favourite bar. The night was calm, not too party-inspiring, so the whole weight of Bernie’s personality laid on one table, and you must know that not every customer likes to be blown into their ears, have their neck licked, be directed towards the river when asking for the toilet (while bursting his sides with laughter at his own joke, every time it’s told, because it’s an excellent one!), and having a stranger dance around their table, even if all of the above is performed with a charming French accent.
Frankie observed the situation from the inside of the bar and assumed that if the situation was to stay like that, the customers at that table would finish their beer (or not) and he would return home early. With this information, I rushed like a two-wheeled torpedo to our kampung house, and the good wife I am, I started to warm up the supper that my husband had prepared earlier.
A while later, still filled with warm feelings, I began to watch the latest episodes of the Game of Thrones, but only the ones we had watched together before. Along with the increasing tension between Arya and Sansa, my anxiety about my still not returning spouse was growing. I heated up my dinner once again and as Jon Snow’s feelings towards Daenerys Targaryen developed, the anxiety began to change the colours to be more fiery, but not with love, and then, when Viserion, the dragon, joined the forces of the army of the dead, I didn’t even feel guilty that he hadn’t seen this episode yet.
One hour before the callings from the nearby mosques, Frankie cycled back home zigzagging slightly and from the threshold, using decibels definitely not suited to the time of the night, he started asking where the nearest jungle was, because he must immediately go to the jungle.
It turned out that the group diagnosed as the one that would go away right away actually did go away right away, but soon came another one, and not just any, because it consisted of Bernie’s friends, so – people who laugh along about the peeing into the river joke and they even like it when someone licks their neck without warning from time to time. In such a fantastic company, Bernie began to give more and more credit and appreciation to Frankie’s great work and it should be noted that in Bernie’s world recognition is calculated in booze.
Oh, how they were all laughing joyfully when suddenly a python fell from the roof straight onto the table. And the dearest of all husbands, like a real hero (aka a Polish man after alcohol), threw himself to the rescue. He named the python Frankie Junior, they became friends for life and he promised to return its freedom.
Monica, woken up with something other than the mosque screeching, for a change, reacted surprisingly calmly having learnt that she would soon be granted the honour of driving one man and one snake on a motorcycle towards a green area for a ritual release of the python. The jar with Frankie Junior flickered in the moonlight, or was it a tear in Frankie’s eye? Eh, how quickly they grow up …
And Bernie, moved by Frankie’s commitment to the wellbeing of the local reptiles, invited us to move into his house in the heart of Chinatown, where there was a mahjong club once on one floor and a brothel on the other one. But I’ll tell you about this another time.