“No, mum, why would I do that?”
“Just so people know you can speak English, and so they don’t think you’re an international student.”
“But they will know I speak English when I talk to them. I have an Australian accent!”
“Yeah, but you know how people are.”
We are both thinking the same word, but we don’t want to say it.
“You work too much. Remember to focus on university, your education should be the most important thing in your life.”
“You know that you can always ask us for money if you need it, right?”
But I also know that money will come at a hefty emotional cost. A cost I am not willing to bear.
“And you know that if you want to come home and live with us you’re welcome to. Any time.”
“You’re speaking with Yen-Rong.”
“How can I help you today?”
“Can I speak to someone who speaks proper English, please? I couldn’t understand your name.”
“I do speak proper English.”
“I regret letting you have a job.”
I regret not leaving sooner.
“If I didn’t let you have a job then none of this would have happened.”
She means: if I didn’t have a job, I wouldn’t have had the financial freedom to move out.
“I knew you’d move out eventually, I just didn’t know it would be this early.”
“I’m not changing my mind.”
“Sorry, I can’t, I have to go to work.”
“Ah, work. That old chestnut.”
“I thought you were just at work.”
“Yeah, I was. I mean, other work.”
“How many jobs do you have!?”
“Uh, three? Plus uni.”
“I don’t know how you do it.”
Some days, I don’t know how I do it either.
“You shouldn’t swear that much. Girls shouldn’t swear.”
“I’ll swear as much as I fucking like, thank you very much.”
“I mean, it’s just – you don’t look like the type to swear. The first time I heard you swear I took a double take. I had to check that it really was you.”
“Well, yeah. It probably was me.”
“You know, I’m pretty sure my name prevents me from getting as many job interviews as I could be getting.”
“But how do you know that? Have you tested it?”
“Why should I have to prove it? Why can’t you just believe me?”
“Well you can’t know for sure, then, can you?”
“I just know, okay.”
“Some guy just asked to borrow my pen and wrote his number on the back of his receipt!?”
“Ooh, is he cute?”
“I mean, kinda?”
“What do you mean, kinda? What table he is at?”
“Dude, he’s so cute! Are you gonna ask him out?”
“Maybe, we’ll see.”
“Oh, just do it, you sook.”
“You should stop spending money on clothes and other things. You don’t need them. You should be saving for a house.”
“Yes, I know.”
“You still have savings, right?”
“When are you going to get a real job?”
“I have a real job.”
“Do you mean a job that’s related to my degree?”
“Yeah, that’s what I meant.”
“I don’t know, mum. Whenever I get my PhD?”
“Isn’t it annoying, having to work on Saturday nights?”
“I mean, it’s not too bad. I get paid all right, so it’s not that much of a bother. I don’t really go out much on Saturdays anyway.”
“And if I do need it off for something I’ll just take a leave day or something.”
“Oh, well, that’s not too bad, then.”
“How was work?”
“Yeah, it was fine. Busy in spots, dead in others. The usual.”
“Anything interesting happen?”
“Not really. Just the same.”
“So what do you do?”
I never know how to answer this question. I’m not a student any more so I can’t say that. Am I a writer? But I don’t write for a living. And that seems pretentious. My day job is boring, though. No one wants to hear about that.
Now too much time has passed for me to crack any kind of joke.
What do I do?