For Services Rendered

As the 1950’s emerged from
the stark post war world
market gardeners sold produce
at city auction houses lining
a side street opposite the wharves.

White settlers avoided Chinese
gardeners who held tenuous
citizenship from old gold rush days,
spoke Chinese at home, heavily
accented English elsewhere.

But forms were required for
the supply and sale of their
produce though they read and
wrote less English than they spoke.

After morning auctions, afternoons
saw auctioneers visit packing
sheds, fill in forms, with broken
English  and Chinese conversations.
They would then be presented
with other official letters and
forms to be answered, filled in,
and tax forms to be computed.

Much appreciation was shown
for this assistance with gifts
of Christmas hams, tinned lychees
in syrup, crystalised ginger in
fat little jars, an embroidered
hanging of rooster and hen, and
bags of vegetables at each visit.

For Services Rendered