It began to occur to Wang, that the life of an Extra Terrestrial sent to investigate human behaviour could be a difficult one. Especially so if the mission was based in a regional town in Australia
It wasn’t the odd request at midnight that alerted Wang to the situation. Nor was it the going out in a hitherto unseen white van. It wasn’t the boss wearing all black (including a beanie) or handing Wang a pair of gloves to wear (in peak summer, no less). And it wasn’t even when the boss struggled with the back gate in the way a stranger fumbles with the unfamiliar. Even when they were loading the furniture into the van and none of the photos- from the humble three-bedroom home with old fashion wallpaper- seemed to fit. Wang’s inner mind merely accepted all of these occurrences and observations as he did every day, acknowledging that he was the outsider and that he was here to learn.
What did finally trigger an inner alarm, a very human response to some base instinct, happened after the furniture was unloaded into a storage shed.
The recognisable blue and red of police lights (without sirens) suddenly flashed, and the boss ducked out of sight. He waved Wang over, who stood stupidly in the open looking between the light source and the storage shed which the boss was now huddling near. It seemed futile. The van was the only vehicle in the lot at this time of night; it would surely draw attention. Wang slowly walked over and squatted by the boss.
‘What did you just make me do?’ he asked.
‘Ah, nothing, we just helped my grandmother move, like I said.’
‘You’re white,’ Wang stated.
‘The pictures of the people in that house were almost entirely west Asian.’
‘Middle Eastern. You don’t look remotely Middle Eastern.’
‘I was adopted, now shut up.’
‘It’s a Random Breath Test.’
‘RBT? Are you sure?’
‘Sure. I undertook the immeasurably intelligent task of looking at them; thus, I was informed.’ Secretly, Wang was pleased with his first-ever attempt at humour. He couldn’t be sure if he wasn’t remotely funny, or he was brilliant, but the boss in such an agitated state couldn’t appreciate his genius.
Boss stuck his head out of cover, saw the police car with another pulled over. Their business was concluded, and both drove away; no doubt one poorer for the experience. Boss breathed a sigh of relief.
‘Ok, I’ll drop you home.’
‘I’d rather walk, thank you.’ Wang stood up and walked defiantly away.
‘Are you sure?’
‘Boss,’ he stopped and turned, ‘I put up with the customers’ behaviours, the late nights, the bad pay (but at least legal). I put up with the sudden change of rosters without notice, the casual and therefore lack of regular pay, lack of sick and holiday benefits, which I hear were hard fought for in this country. I even put up with that strange man who always looked at me like I was a piece of meat. After all, it made me appreciate what I’ve come to realise is ‘par for the course’ for the female staff. But I will not put up with whatever it is you’ve got me into tonight. Consider this my notice.’ Wang turned and marched away.
‘Well,’ boss said after his mind caught up with his mouth, ‘can I at least have my gloves back?’
The following day, tired and unemployed, Wang walked up to the local ‘Fresh’ supermarket, résumé in hand.
‘Can’t be as bad as the last job,’ he thought as he walked in through the automatic doors and was enveloped by conditioned, sweet-smelling air.