Boss Man


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Asia » Indonesia » Lombok » Kuta
March 30th 2008
Published: April 13th 2008
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014a - Indonesia - Lombok Side Story

04/01/08 - 04/07/08

Boss Man

Boss is a 21 year old native Indonesian that works at the Segara Anak Cottages in Kuta, Lombok. He's one of the guys that keep the grounds and the rooms clean, and he was also the one that showed us to our room on the first night. I nicknamed him Boss after negotiating the price of the room down with him even though he had to first ask permission from his boss (I got the room down to about $8 per night instead of $9!).

Once we checked in to the hotel Boss and I started to chat. After being annoyed with our aggressive hotel worker in Mataram, it was great to speak with someone that didn't have dollar signs gleaming in his eyes when he looked at us. Boss told me that he's trying to learn English and I invited him to join Hannah and I for dinner; we would swap some phrases in Bahasa Indonesian and English. Being a devout Muslim, Boss doesn't drink alcohol so we bought him a coke and shared some phrases in our native tongues.

For the duration of our stay Boss was incredibly friendly to us and would always ask how our day was and what we were up to. He lives with his family just outside the Kuta beach area and gets rides with locals each day to come into work. As one of the housekeepers of the hotel he earns about $50 a month. Of that he sends $30 to support his family (he's the sole bread winner) and the rest he keeps for himself for day to day expenses. To put things in perspective, $50 was the budget for Hannah and I for a single day while in Indonesia. Somehow Boss managed to make that last for himself and his family for an entire month!

Like many Indonesians, Boss finished high school but is unable to afford university. I was told that it costs about $1,000 for an entire 2 year education at a university; an amount that most families aren't able to save up. I talked to at least 2 other kids that confirmed that amount. So, once they're done with high school, many Indonesian kids try and work in the tourism industry in order to make a living. Some kids hustle tourists on the street selling services or knick-knacks while others, like Boss, get a real job at a hotel. Those that speak the best English get the better jobs as receptionists, tour guides, and travel agents, while the others become housekeepers, bus-boys, or handy-men.

Regardless of the long working hours and little pay, Boss was always smiling and genuinely stoked with his life. I urged him to try and save whatever he could for going back to school but the exorbinant costs will probably make it very difficult for him. Hopefully, as his English gets better he can land a better paying job and someday be able to afford a further education.

The day we left I said good-bye to Boss and gave him a $5 tip (approximately what we had saved from negotiating down the price of the room). He reluctantly accepted and was very thankful. As he walked away we heard him hoot with enjoyment as he saw the amount of the tip! Hannah and I both smiled in acknowledgement of how fortunate we are to be in our situation. To have what we have when others don't even come close; we are truly blessed.

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14th April 2008

what a great story
Thank you so much for sharing your stories, it sounds like you guys are having an amazing trip. I love hearing more about the locals!

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