Once arrived, there was a sign pointing to the dark parking ramp. I was hesitant. Where the hell does that lead me? For all I know it could be a black hole. But it’s Planet Hollywood, not a bail bond, it had a reputation. It was early morning and there were already HUNDREDS of people there. Let me repeat, HUNDREDS, and the number continues to increase to close to a thousand as the day go. I put my name down on the list, they hand me a four page-application to fill out and we are expected to just “hang around” until our name got called. Mind you, this is not a closed door setting. We were gathered at the basement parking lot, no chairs, no air conditioner. We were just to either sit on the pavement filled with stains of mostly oil leaks, or god knows what else, and I chose to stand. No one dares to leave. They can’t. If their name gets called and you don’t come up right away, they move on and there goes your dream job.
There were people smoking around me. People chit chatting. No one has headphones. Some were smart and brought playing cards, checkers and dice to kill time. I can bet they’ve done one of these before in the past and have an expectation of how the day is going to run. I, on the other hand, just chilaxing with my dearest friend Dian, making small talk. When she gets bored with my yapping, she would slowly make her way to talk to others. I was too shy to talk to other people, my Indo slang was far from good. If I had started a small talk I could only imagine it would go something like so (in Indonesian):
Stranger: “What’s your name?”
Me: “Dhila, you?”
Stranger: “Jaka, where are you from?”
Me: “Well, that’s ……..sort of a ……general question……….are you asking…….. where I live? ……….because…… I don’t live here………. in Jakarta……….technically……….I live in Des Moines……….Iowa……at least……. that what……. my driver license says……..which I don’t have with me……. to proof it to you…….. No, it’s nowhere…….. in this country………it is United States………you know…….. America……… Or……… are you asking………. my originality……. I was born and……….. grew up……. in Jakarta…..
The dots between the sentences are me thinking up each word translating from English to Indonesia and calculating the proper Indonesian grammar, in my head. I had pictured this sort of interactions and decided to not even try. Because at this rate, this person will totally lose interest (and patience) in what I had to say and causing me an embarrassment as he slowly walks away in a slow motion as I am still trying to come up with the right word.
Did you say lunch and 10 hour day??! Yep. We had been waiting since 8 am. I had a thought of giving up, I think. But then again, what else was I going to do that day? Nothing much really. I probably would just sit in a room at the U.S Embassy after barging in to crowds of protesters with a magazine over my face to cover my identity — even though no one would give two shits about me, but you never know— waiting, to get my name called, but at least I wait in an air conditioned room. But that’s another story for later.
By around 6pm they finally called my name. HALLE-FREAKING-LLUJAH!!! I didn’t say that out loud, just in my head. I was afraid that I would offend the majority of the Islamic crowd. But then again, it’s Planet Hollywood, they serve alcoholic beverages here. Where was I going with that? Nowhere really.
There are three small offices in a row in the air conditioned room. Aaaaahhhh, finally. Each office could only fit a desk and a chair. The desk has piles and piles of stacked papers which bury the interviewer behind them. I was told to go straight to the last office and skipped the two. Weird!
I got a call the next day for a job offer and started my training the following week. Transportation was arranged to pick me up from the house to Planet Hollywood. The driver picks up others on the way and drops us off after our shift. Isn’t that FABULOUS! You won’t see arrangement like this in the U.S. for a waitressing job. I felt like a STAR as I share a bus with other servers, hostesses, cooks, janitors and bus boys.
And then there I was shadowing waitresses to cater to rich, snotty, under-age Indonesian teens who couldn’t tell the difference between a Shirley Temple daiquiri and a Margarita. On stage was a band, playing Jazz, loudly. There are a lot of times where I would get distracted watching whatever fabulous band playing that day and those are the times where the shift manager will tap me on the shoulder and gives me the stink-eye.
I tried Google-ing Planet Hollywood in Jakarta in hopes to find photos. And here’s what I got. It’s not as glamorous as one would imagine if you don’t know anything about “places to hang out” in Jakarta.
The menu, I think, changes overtime. The Shirley Temple drink was no longer there. It has been exchanged with other concoctions with names of current movies. So either, they have a very creative mixologist whose sole purpose is to come out with a new drink every time a new movie comes out or it is the same bloody old concoctions with a different movie or movie star names. Maybe the Shirley Temple then is now called Dakota Fanning. I don’t know.
Either way I did not complete my one week training. A knight showed up on a white horse all glimmery and swooped me up from the kitchen as the horse slowly turned into a Pegasus and away we flew to the clouds (translation: a call came from Jeff, he’s UPS-ing a one-way ticket home from Jakarta to Des Moines, Iowa). And we live happily ever after since.