A Case of Mistaken Identity

September 7, 2010 at 1:00 am 10 comments

It was quitting time in San Francisco. From the tall buildings, I saw people coming out like rats driven out from their holes.

While I was crossing crowded Kearny Street, I heard somebody yelling.

‘Roobbeerrttoo’, he cried.

I didn’t pay much attention to it and continued on walking. Suddenly, I felt a tap on my shoulder. When I turned my back, I saw him.

‘I’m sorry,’ he apologized in Filipino, a tone of disappointment in his voice. ‘I thought you were my friend back home’.

He was a fellow kababayan (countryman) about the same age as I am, and judging from his appearance, he must have just arrived in the U.S. He was wearing a custom-tailored shirt and custom-made shoes.

It was a case of mistaken identity but what the heck. I’ve been mistaken for a Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indonesian, sales assistant, scientology recruiter, and other dubious personas, too.

When I meet a new immigrant, I feel a connection. He reminds me of myself during my early days in America.

After living with relatives in New York for three months, I decided to strike on my own. I went to Chicago hoping to find a job there. Unable to find employment and running out of funds, I decided to accept a friend’s invitation to stay with them in San Francisco until i got my bearings.

She was by then already married. I didn’t know what she said to convince her husband, whom I hadn’t met, to accept me as a charity case. He, being an ex-seminarian, must have helped.

Nonetheless, it wasn’t a cakewalk. Living in a one-bedroom apartment, there were some privacy issues to reckon with, but things do take care of themselves if you let them. It was about the time they had decided to raise a family that I found a job that enabled me to rent a rundown studio in the Tenderloin district. A year later, they had a son.

Being paid the minimum wage, I had to scrimp on change for many months. There was hardly nothing left after paying the rent. I had to take a part-time job to earn money for food and groceries. Things started to get better only after taking computer classes at the local university and being accepted as a programmer trainee in the company. It was the break that led me to a software engineering career.

I’d like to invite him for coffee and maybe give him some pointers on adjusting to the new life. I’ve known what it feels to leave home and family and be alone in a strange country. I’d like to tell him that networking is the key to survival. It means connecting with the local Filipino community groups and not being ashamed to ingratiate himself as an honorary member of extended families by calling somebody tito (uncle), tita (aunt), lolo (grandfather), lola (grandmother), kuya (older brother), or ate (older sister). This is to ensure that he’d get an invite and a place to go during the holidays.

Before I could utter a word, however, he made an about-face and disappeared in the crowd. He’d have to learn to survive by himself as others before him. He’d have to carve out his own niche. Like me, I’m confident he will.

Entry filed under: Blogroll, daily prompt. Tags: , , , , , .

On the Road to Vegan Living The Place I Work

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jim  |  September 10, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    this is awesome man

  • 2. custom chrome rims  |  September 11, 2010 at 5:16 am

    im feeling it

  • 3. weight loss calculator  |  September 13, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    trying to follow you on twitter but cant find your name

    • 4. plaridel  |  September 15, 2010 at 9:51 am

      weight loss calculator:

      sorry, i don’t have a twitter account.

  • 5. fearlessinjesuschrist  |  July 14, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    Beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing

    • 6. plaridel  |  July 15, 2017 at 12:08 pm


      thank you for generous comment. much appreciated.

  • 7. fabulousread  |  March 20, 2018 at 10:58 am

    It hooked me in! I really enjoy it so much – you’ve had a really catchy and engaging voice in here! This writing is kind of my style I enjoy reading – please keep it up! and share more !

    • 8. plaridel  |  March 21, 2018 at 9:15 am


      thank you. i’m glad you liked it. 🙂

  • 9. theceaselessreaderwrites  |  March 20, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    “Scientology Recruiter”! Love it!

    • 10. plaridel  |  March 21, 2018 at 9:16 am




Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

From The Book Thief

i have hated the words and i have loved them, and i hope i have made them right.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,368 other followers

Right Brain vs. Left Brain Test

In My Community

Recent Posts

Blog Stats

  • 148,253 hits
Flag Counter

%d bloggers like this: