Singapore

rosemary: my current favourite herb

There are some revelations you can’t have, artistic perspectives, within the confines of a shopping mall, swilling with people.

Two days – ten hours – of my probation period of sorts in the kitchen of that Japanese fast food chain have passed, and it’s been a novel experience. I worked the deep fryer, and was filling orders an hour into my shift, and can now do most of the repertoire of dishes, which isn’t that hard to begin with, thank you, Ford assembly line. It’s been a revelatory insight into the not-so-dark underbelly of the fast food industry, and while some things appal me a little, me who isn’t exactly known for upholding food safe standards in the MCL kitchen, the crew there has mostly thus far impressed me with their team work, rough camaraderie, focus and quick, casual efficiency. I think there’s a word for it, actually: professionalism. It seems like too big a word to use, but it is what it is. It isn’t perfect and it’s obviously not haute cuisine, but none of them slack off, as is so typical with us students with our own job (i.e. homework), and none of them complain about the work, and I’ve seen most everyone pitch in to help another worker if his station gets too busy without having to be asked or expecting even an acknowledgement, though I’ve been thanked for doing the dishes, and even for moving out of the way, but that’s just the newbie treatment, I guess. Shouldn’t get too used to it! They’ve taken really good care of me, too, explaining the tasks without yelling when I made mistakes (and I made a few of them!). It could be so much worse. I like being occupied.

Returning from the first shift depressed me, though, because I realized a series of things: I would not like to work full time at that job. I would not want to eat at a fast food place again, really (even if the food does taste cheaply good), for that price. There was very little skill involved in the cooking, which is expected for hourly pay and a fast food place, but that was still depressing. It’s all about balancing expectations, though, right? I probably had them naively, privilegedly high. I told a couple of people the 24 hours in between my shifts that I really didn’t want to go back, but it’s precisely because of that that I think I should. Character building? I don’t like the idea of setting a precedent of quitting something I don’t like. Where is the line between knowing what you want and just being lazy? In any case, I’ll finish my three day probation period, and see what other opportunities pop up.

The people there are also from a very different sector of society than I’m used to, which is an excellent thing, to my mind. Whether it’s paranoia or unconscious elitism, I have a suspicion that they don’t expect me to last long – almost didn’t expect me to return yesterday. It’s odd for me to find a suitable register of English to use, and in any case, many of them speak Malay, and Mandarin, except to me. Coming back to Singapore, something that I had previously not noticed is that most people I pass on the street speak Mandarin rather than English. If you’re speaking of bilingualism, I’m sorry, Canada, Singapore has you beat on that front! Not only with Mandarin, but most people speak their mother tongue and English to decent conversational standards.

Looking for entry-level jobs has also made me realize how useless my academic credentials are, at least in some sectors of the economy. While it is probably quite true that those aren’t sectors I have been trained for or desire to be part of on a long-term basis, in any case, it’s still sobering to be reminded that intelligence is not intrinsically the top commodity in all job markets. A realization all the more trivial for its self-evident nature, but timely. A more important commodity sometimes is availability, as I am starting to realize.

BUT ENTRY-LEVEL STUDENT JOBS, what do I expect. Could be a lot, lot worse.

Bought a box of fresh rosemary the last time I did grocery shopping, and it’s going a long way! I’ve made rosemary-garlic-lemon prawns, and put it in chicken dishes, and a bacon-omelette, and I still have half a box left. Maybe some garlic toast for breakfast tomorrow morning. It’s far too hot in Singapore to eat anything really meaty – to eat anything at all, really. I feel like I’m just being sweated into a shrivelled … thing.

It’s only been less than a week since I left Canada.

OH this is amazing. How amazing is this? Tony Awards 2012 – Neil Patrick Harris’ Opening Number. What a winner.

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One thought on “rosemary: my current favourite herb

  1. Try tutoring IB subjects. There must be some commonality between the Singaporean and Canadian IB syllabi. I’m sure there is demand if you try hard enough. Trust me, it’s hard but I think it’s a better job. Pays well too, even if you consider preparation time. (If you’ve studied hard, you shouldn’t need to revise that much. More than can be said about myself though)

    Btw, your blog is quite interesting. Some things raised I’m curious to ask you more about. See how, see how…

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