Thursday, May 26, 2016

"Excuse me, can you tell me if she's a horrible person or nice person who doesn't have the muscles in her face to smile."

Two of my least favourite customers decided to patronise the Bistrot tonight. As anyone can probably guess, these two ladies in question happen to be Singaporean Chinese graduate working professionals from well to do families - or should I say the unfortunate aspiration of what every in Singapore tries to be.

I don't know what it is, but when I see them, I end up blessing the fact that I've had an unconventional life, sheltered from the need to ever be part of this group. Both ladies think they're very beautiful and they strut around expecting normal people to agree. Unfortunately, the only people who might be inclined to agree are Caucasians (who are notoriously bad at looking at beauty in Asian women beyond the obvious private parts) and local Tamils who are so desperate to be part of the majority racial group. The ladies in question are the living embodiment of what an Irish school master called,"Beauty is skin deep but ugliness goes down to the bone."

What I dislike most about the two ladies in question is the fact that they literally spit on anyone who isn't deemed to be "in their class." One of them thought she was being generous when she invited the previous chef to drink with her and then proceed to empty out her friends empty wine glasses into a cup just for him. The ugliness of the character involved became so obvious at one stage that an Indian National customer asked loudly enough if they young lady was either a horrible person or a very person who lacked the facial muscles to smile. A former colleague from Italy got the shock of her life when one of the sisters of this young lady slammed a glass and demanded that it get filled with water.

In fairness to these two young ladies, Singapore is filled with uppity little things that think it's acceptable to treat those lower than themselves like shit. You'd imagine that after 50-years of miraculous economic growth and prosperity and exposure of everything that the world has to offer, that you'd get a population that had a better outlook on life.

It's probably my blessing in life that I ended up working in a restaurant. It opened my eyes to the realities on the ground. After a certain time, you'll realise that the problem in Singapore is not that we're letting too many foreigners, but we're not exposing the shit to the realities of life.

I have soft spot for Filipinos, and it has nothing to do with bar girls. Fact of the matter remains, our entire service sector would collapse without this community. They work hard, put up with lots of crap and still manage to smile and they do it for criminally low amounts of money. I think of Rafe, my back up guy at the Bistrot. He runs the show. He knows how to work the systems and he knows where is where and what it what. The same is true of Joey, his counterpart at the busier Pizzeria and Grill. Both these guys often double up as the dishwasher, kitchen help, cleaning boy and if they are truly unlucky, baby sitter of Mama Ka-Ni-Na.

I also have a high degree of enthusiasm for PRC Chinese. I think of the guy who used to come in an insist on ordering "Nieu Pai" (steak) and it always had to be the best (read - most expensive) and paid in cash.

I don't see why anyone should ever complain about PRC Chinese and the way they pay in cash. Give me the PRC Chinese who insist on buying the best and priciest in cash over the twat from the North of England with his silly Singaporean Chinese girlfriend who would always try and pull of the "I forgot my wallet" trick at the end of the evening.

While tipping isn't exactly great in Singapore, I appreciated Norwegians or at least my favourite couple, who would tip me exceedingly generously from time-to-time. My other group of regular tippers are Sikh (and I don't wear the Kara to work).

In the four years I've worked in a restaurant, I've come across enough of particular nationalities to be able to form fairly accurate stereotypes. Unfortunately, the least pleasent ends up being the well to do local people, who shouldn't be.

I guess you can say that paying customers, have a right to expect certain things from the people they pay. I think it's called a "Service Level Agreement," or SLA in professional jargon. In a restaurant, you expect your server to be fairly attentive and pleasent when the food is brought to you. In a professional service firm, you expect the guy on the other side to know what he's talking about and to be attentive to your needs.

However, I believe that there is a line between good service and abuse. In the case of the restaurant, the ladies cross that line. Come on, if you want to appreciate the man who put his heart and soul into preparing a tasty meal for you, do it from the heart and not in a way that shows the world that his you're pet dog.

If you want to be demanding, you should also reward well. One can argue that I'm being an ass for complaining about two ladies when I worked for the Saudi government, an organisation that's known for getting most value out of you. Difference here is that the Saudi's took care of basic needs (Shangri-La) and rewarded people for a job well done.

Did it occur to them that my Filipino guys would have enjoyed a tip, no matter how small, for putting their heart and soul into serving them? Nope, what they wanted  was simple, a cheap meal with a mandatory 10 percent discount and wine without corkage.

Needless to say, they get away with it because, some of the right people cannot see beyond a ladies private parts. My restaurant owner considers them "good customers" with spending power and encourage other so called "Good spenders." He's French Caucasian with a strange fetish for angry faces. Hence, he's willing to wave corkage charges for cheap people as opposed to other "regular" customers who actually spend money on good food and don't go out of their way to make people who happen to be a darker shade of pink to try and feel bad.

Here again, lies an important lesson. Why you indulge self-centred brats, you make bratism an accepted form of behaviour. Hence, we have an island filled with Pundeks and Ka-Ni-Na's who refuse to work but expect to be fed for free. I think of Singapore Chinese Graduates complaining about PRC Chinese women stealing men in the same way I think about Pundeks and Ka-Ni-Na's complaining about foreign workers - the foreign workers work while the Pundeks and Ka-Ni-Na's do not. Likewise, when you have to look at the persistent scowl on our well to do graduate working professional Singaporean Chinese ladies, you'll understand that paying the price for a PRC hooker is actually more pleasent, at least the PRC girl speaks one language well, dress appealingly and most importantly - smiles despite doing a crappy job.

Here in lies the lesson - developing facial muscles to smile is actually worth the effort. You can make people want to help you rather than avoid you.

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