Wednesday, June 28, 2017

"My Life in the USA"

My Life in the USA

By Thiphawan Gault-Williams
Written in 2010


I began my new life to be a housewife at first.  After my husband went to work I stayed home with our dog Buffy.  At first I had only one Thai girlfriend.  Her name was Tana.  Tana and I like to cook and we like to eat and talk.


In the fall of 2001 I was a housewife and student.  I went to study ESL classes at the Eastside Library from Monday through Friday.  On Saturday I went to the Farmer's Market in downtown Santa Barbara.  I studied for a couple of months before the weather got cold.  I went to visit my family in Thailand for the first time since I came here in the year 2000.


In the summer of 2002 I went to study at Santa Barbara City College.  I took ESL classes and I began with writing level one, reading level one, and grammar level two.  It was so exciting for me, no matter the classes were a little hard for me.  I still liked to study and be back in school again after my 6th grade in Thailand.


I studied very hard and spent my free time on lab hours.  I had to study more at home because I always picked teachers who love to teach more than talk to wait their times.  I always look forward to having a good grade and I did very well on every class I took.  During my school term I always enjoyed my bike ride to school at the East Beach.


After I had studied up to level five my grade was dropped down.  I had to drop basic math two weeks after fall 2004 began.  My level five writing was A+ but my reading was a D, including homework and the final test.  I was so upset and stopped studying.  I started look for jobs.

After fall 2002 besides being a housewife and student, I started working for myself.  After school hours sometimes I did Thai traditional massage.  I like to do Thai massage because I can help people who are tired to relax. Not just Thai traditional massage but sometimes I did foot massage with a wooden sticks and oil.

In the school term my health was not good.  I had different problems like migraines, stomach aches, acid reflux, and heartburn.

After I had lived in Santa Barbara for a couple of years I had more Thai friends.  Sometimes I invited my friend to come to my house.  We would cook Thai food and enjoy it together.  I sometimes went to my friend's house on Christmas for the parties.


During my school break in summer time I went to visit my family in Thailand.  I went almost every year until my daughter came from Thailand to live with us.  In the summer 2005 my daughter came to stay with us.  I was a housewife, a mother, and a working woman, but I still wanted to study, no matter I couldn't.  During this period I worked at three jobs.  I worked at a grocery store named Scholari's.  I stood next to the cashier bagging groceries for the customers.  My second job was working at a restaurant.  I was a runner, giving food to the customers.  I would sometimes help the waitress refill the water glasses and clean the table.  My last job was during the supermarket and the restaurant.  It was Thai massage and food massage with wooden sticks and oil.


Sometimes my husband took my daughter and me camping.  We went to Mutau  Flat above Ojai.  Another place we went was Anza Borrego desert inland from San Diego.  I like to camp a lot. When we went camping I liked to barbecue chicken, shrimp, and squid.


In the fall of 2009 I went to take a class at Santa Barbara City College Adult Education at the Scott Center.  I went to prepare for the GED but the class was so hard for me because my English was not good.

In the winter of 2010 I changed my mind about the way to prepare for my GED.  I got the brochure from Adult Education room 16 on how to get help from a tutor.  The program had been going on for a long time at the Santa Barbara Library and around town.  I called up Beverly Schwartzberg, a person who organizes the program.  It took her a couple of weeks before she found one of the teachers to help me for reading, writing, and grammar to prepare for my GED.  Her name is Gwen and she has been helpful for me.  I love to study with her a lot.  The program is free.  No matter I can take the GED test or not because of my English.  I still like to learn more English no matter what.  I really thank the people who run the program.  It is helpful for me to learn more English and prepare for my GED.


I have lived in Santa Barbara for ten years now, from the year 2000 until now, the year 2010.  My daughter lived with us for five years and now she has moved back to Thailand to go to college there.  I miss her and look forward to visiting her in November 2010.

Another sad thing for our family was when my dog Buffy died last fall on October 26, 2009.



Many things good or sad happen to me but I still have my husband who loves me so much and my family and my friends who stay beside me.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

"My Jobs"



My Jobs
by Thiphawan Gault-Williams


My first job was hemming jeans. I was thirteen years old at that time and I worked in Bangkok, Thailand. I had to be careful hemming the jeans because the machine had a knife to cut the fabric. If I was not careful it would cut my finger more than the fabric. I could make $10 a day if I could hem around 1,000 jeans. Hemming the jeans was not too difficult and not too easy either. The hard thing was carrying one hundred pieces each time from downstairs to upstairs. It was too heavy for a little girl like me. I worked six days a week, but sometimes I didn't have any day off or sleep because I had to finish my work before they could pack the jeans and send them to the boat. All the jeans that we made were sold outside the country to Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Now when I think back to that time I am very proud of myself hemming the jeans no matter what. It was not too safe because there was so much dust and the way a knife cut the fabric. I am still proud of myself because some of the money I made was sent back to support my family.


My second job was working at a restaurant at a hotel. It was a Chinese restaurant and I was a waitress. I had to serve food and take care of customers and I had to encourage the customers to order the food we had to sell out on that day before the food would go bad. For example, if that day the restaurant had too much pork barbecue we told the customers, "The pork barbecue is so good, tasty, and fresh," no matter that it was not that way. We served pork barbecue with sweet chili sauce, cucumber, and onions.

I tried to do the best I could to take care of the customers because the better service I did, the more tip I could get. It wasn't just how much of a tip I could get from the customers, I still wanted to take care of the customers by giving them good service and being happy. We wanted them to come back again soon.

My work at the hotel was challenging for me every day. For example, I'm the kind of person who always wakes up late. For the hotel job my morning started at 7 a.m. and went until 10 or 11 p.m. In the morning after I woke up I took a shower to prepare myself for work. I ran to the bus stop and then kept waiting and waiting. I had no idea when the bus would come. Sometimes it took me an hour waiting for the bus. I sometimes had to take a cab, not matter cab or bus I still had to get out and run or walk to work because the traffic in Bangkok was so bad. Running and walking was faster for me in the morning before work. Another challenge for me was when a customer complained about the food. They might say the food tastes too salt or too sweet and was not good. I had to take the food back to the chef and deal with him in the kitchen. Sometimes the chef did not do anything to the food. He would just say, "I tested it already. It still tastes good. The customer is just wrong." I had no idea what to do. I waited a while and then brought the food back to the customer, smiling. I said, "We are so sorry. The food is OK now." They smiled and ate it. The chef didn't change anything in the food but the customer still smiled and said, "The food was good." I sometimes wondered what happened in their minds.


[When I moved to the United States] My third, fourth, and fifth job was working at the supermarket, doing Thai massage, and being a runner at Your Place restaurant. I worked at Scolari's supermarket [in Santa Barbara]. I started work at 6 a.m. and went to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. My job was to stand next to the cashier and bag the groceries. I bagged groceries for six months and then I got promoted to the non-food department. The job I worked was staking. For example, I stocked medicine, decorations, and shampoo. I got paid $6.35 per hour.

After I got off from the supermarket I went back home, had a rest, and then did another job. I did Thai traditional massage and Thai foot massage. In this job I was the boss of myself. Many of my clients who came to me always complained about their bodies. They were tired, sore, and achy. I was so happy that I knew how to do massage because I like to help people and see them happy after my massage. For example, one of my clients was 65 years old. I did foot massage on her. I usually used oil and wood to do massage. I would rub and put pressure on the skin. After I finished my work, my client always said, "I feel like I have new feet." Not just my client said that to me, but my husband said the same, "I feel like I have new feet." I made more money doing massage than working at the supermarket. I charged the customers $60 an hour for massage. I didn't just help people with their bodies, but I made money too!

Around 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. my other job started. After my dinner I started working at the Thai restaurant at 6 p.m. My job was to be a runner. For example, I bought food to the customers, refilled water glasses, and cleaned the tables. This job paid $14 an hour. This job was easy for me because I was not a waitress and I didn't have to deal with the customers. When the customers complained about something I always sent a waitress over to the table to deal with them. After I finished my job I rode my bike back home and that was the end of my day of work. I would start my jobs again the next day.


I like every job I have had, no matter that sometimes I had to deal with difficult people. I like to do different things to learn more about something and to have more experience. I was so happy to be working, no matter that sometimes the job was hard for me. I am proud of myself for every job I have done. I sent some of the money I made back to support my family in my hometown in northeast Thailand.