Are you aware of the superstition that whatever happens on the first day of the (Lunar) New Year will happen to you for the rest of the year? My mother drilled this into me as a child, and I was forbidden from arguing with her on the first day of Tet. My first day of Tet, 2012 was a most interesting one. If you are familiar with symbolisms, perhaps you can tell me what my 2012 will entail, other than unnecessary drama.
It was a Monday. I had decided not to take the day off work, because a matter that I had ‘carriage of’ (that’s legal speak for: it’s my problem) was listed for a hearing. It seemed the height of unfairness to ask someone else to deal with it just so I could hang out at home doing very little, other than trying to prance around being all sweetness and light, as my mother used to expect me to do. Actually, I think I have rarely taken Tet day off during my grown-up, salaried life. (Never say never, though, right?)
I went into work ridiculously early for me: 0730. Unsurprisingly, I was the first in the office, though my arrival coincided with our cleaner’s. As I keyed in the alarm code, he shouted out, “Careful! Careful!” and I panicked. Was I about to do it wrong and bring the security company down upon us? Then I panicked about panicking: oh no! Am I going to panic all year? Then I desisted, and asked our cleaner, “Sorry, why?”
He gestured for me to come into the office and pointed at the stairwell. The carpet was sparkling, in a way it does not usually do. My brain did not quite immediately grasp the significance but as I took a few steps up, I could not fail to notice the crunch underfoot. Our large stairway window had been smashed. There was a neat hole and glass everywhere. Whatever had gone through the window, had gone through with great force, scattering glass a few metres in myriad directions not blocked by walls.
“Someone has broken in!” the cleaner cried.
“I don’t think they have, actually.” I replied.
The hole in the glass was at least 3 metres from the ground and there was no indication that anyone had tried to make it wide enough to get through. Also, our alarm was fine; nothing had set it off.
Thankfully, the glass was the type that shatters; there appeared to be no dangerous shards. I picked my way past the glass and telephoned my boss, to find out what she wanted me to do about it, if anything. Thankfully, she delegated dealing with it to someone else – who would be arriving at the office in another half hour or so – and I could ignore it to prepare for my hearing.
Our cleaner likes a good drama, however, so he was making full use of my presence to theorise on what had happened. I tried to placate him with a few half-hearted theories (just random vandalism, I thought, nothing more malicious than that) and I joined him to look for the projectile that would have caused the break. We found nothing. Just glass in rather surprising places, like ’round the corner from the window.
I turned up to my hearing less prepared than I like to be. It wasn’t a particularly complicated matter, but I did not think we really had strong grounds. Unsurprisingly, we did not succeed but at least the hearing was brief.
When I got back to my desk, it seemed as if one thing after another crashed at me like thunderous waves. I don’t like waves. They dump me onto the sand, disorient me and make me drink saltwater.
Around lunchtime, I thought I would give my parents a call, you know, to wish them happy new year! I rang my father’s mobile. He answered, I identified myself, he hung up. I waited a few minutes and then tried again, but this time I was greeted with a message telling me that my father had turned his mobile phone off. Didn’t he want to talk to me, at all, on Tet? Obviously not. I had left my personal mobile at home and it had my mother’s and siblings’ numbers in it (I know my father’s by heart, but no one else’s), so I could not ring anyone else. First Tet I did not speak to my family for a long time. Oh well, at least there won’t be tears at work this year.
Last week I rung my father again. He hung up on me again. Clearly this is going to happen all year. I should just ring my mother.
I spent the evening forcing my house guest, who had just touched down from Germany and was suffering from jet lag, to walk, walk, walk around my suburb. I wanted to show her yarn-bombed bicycle racks and wanted to ensure she did not go to sleep any earlier than 9pm. It was her first time crossing such extensive time zones.
So, 2012: drama, smashed windows, work unpreparedness, work overload, parental disconnection and torture of foreign guests. Might be a good year!