Don’t Forget the Soap: Excerpt + Giveaway
Don’t Forget the Soap is a collection of anecdotes from different points in Claire’s life: stories from the tight-knit Filipino community in Vancouver mix with memories of her move to New York, experiences at Yale and travels as a young executive. Underlying this narrative is the story of a global citizen who does not want to forget the fundamental values that come along with the “immigrant experience” as she and her husband raise their children in the increasingly glitzy expat bubble of Singapore. Her parents continue to remain a big influence in her life and her mother’s reminders a grounding force. These stories will warm the heart and resonate with people of any culture.
When I first started working at Citibank in New York there was a cleaning lady who would come by everyday around 5 pm to empty the trash. She had a very warm demeanor, and I was always happy to engage her in conversation at the end of the day. Her name was Maria, and she was from the Dominican Republic. At one point I asked if I could practice my Spanish with her, and she was delighted. It was great for me as my language skills hadn’t been put into practice much since I studied abroad in college. Through our exchanges I learned she had a son and daughter in high school. I shared with her pictures of my family from our recent trip to the Philippines.
When I got promoted my boss finally managed to secure an office for me, which was not an easy task given the internal politics and lack of space. It was kind of a makeshift office with a hodgepodge of furniture including an old desk, mismatched chairs, a broken file cabinet and a wobbly conference table but I didn’t care. As long as it had a door I felt like I had made it to the big league. On the first morning in my new digs, I opened the door to find what looked like a completely new office. The desk was sparkling, the conference table looked new, the chairs all matched and the broken file cabinet had been removed. The entire day everyone who walked by congratulated me on my promotion and asked how in the world I got my office in such shape. I had no idea. Maybe the maintenance guys realized someone was moving in and cleaned everything up? No way, everyone highly doubted it.
Then 5 pm came around and Maria stopped by to collect my trash. She had this proud grin on her face and said, “Te gusta?” So Maria was behind it! I got up to thank her profusely. I couldn’t believe she had gone through such trouble. “De nada. De nada. Un placer,” she said and then proceeded to explain that it was the least she could do after everything I had done for her. Everything I had done for her? What would that be? I started to wonder if she mistook me for another person but no, she was referring to the fact that I would take time to say hello everyday when she came to clean my work space. It turned out that this gesture alone made all the difference when everyone else rushed past her or didn’t say word. “Before you moved to this floor I could have been invisible,” she explained. “Now I enjoy coming to work.” It was one of the first times in my adult life when I felt like I was turning into my mother. And it was a good feeling.
This blog tour was organized by Dia at Book Junkie Blog Tours!