x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

A day in the life of a carpenter at Abu Dhabi's The One store

The Life: Menard Valdez Olarte, head handyman and carpenter at The One's Abu Dhabi store, describes his typical working day.

Menard Valdez Olarte wallpapers at The One. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National
Menard Valdez Olarte wallpapers at The One. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National

Menard Valdez Olarte is the head handyman and carpenter at The One's Abu Dhabi store. Mr Olarte, 41, an electrical engineer from the Philippines, has been working at the store for five years and feels at home.


I wake up and prepare coffee and breakfast. I cook fried rice and eggs to keep me going. I also prepare my lunch, such as Adobo with chicken and rice.


I am here at my office [on 32nd Street]. When the weather is nice I walk from my home in Khalidiya. The cafe inside the store opens at 8am and the store itself at 9am. The store closes at 10pm. The first thing I do is take rounds of the store with my colleagues, one of whom is from India and the other from Pakistan. We inspect air conditioners for leaks and change fused bulbs. We also tidy up the walls where a nail may have been left the previous day after the sales people have taken off a wall hanging. I used to work with my uncle, an architect and a contractor in the Philippines since my high school days, and picked up the skills there.


After the rounds, I check the log book to see what items need to be fixed. Sales people keep broken items to be repaired in the workshop in the basement. I am now putting up wallpaper in the "colonial" area of the store. As the season changes, so will the look of the walls. There are three more sections: "eclectic" and "iconic" in the mezzanine floor and the "opulent" area in the basement.


I have lunch. Sometimes I have sautéed sardines, which I make at home. We share food among colleagues. At times, we order Indian food from outside.


We double-check what we have done and do the rounds again. We need to make sure that the store looks good when we are not here. We finish at 5.45pm.


If my wife is online, I chat with her and my two daughters in Ilocos Norte in the Philippines. Almost every day I call them at 8am, that is, noon in the Philippines. At that time, my daughters come back from school and I can talk to them. In the evening, I chat with my wife for around two hours if she is available, because she has to get up at 5am to prepare our children for school.


I make dinner. I like Sinigang, a Filipino tamarind-based soup with chicken or fried fish, and salad. I watch action or detective movies to relax. I prefer watching English movies to improve my language skills. You see, I went to an engineering college where it was all numbers.


I go to bed.