Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Great Expectations

So today, for reasons I can't get into, we are doing a bunch of research on employment stuff and one of the bits we need to fit into the big picture is what an average kitchen assistant/ dish washer gets paid.

The Ministry of Manpower helpfully directs us to Table 3.5 of the Report on Wages in Singapore, 2008. I couldn't believe my eyes. Maybe it's just me, but it says here that the average washer of dishes in a Singapore restaurant was getting paid a whopping S$1,013 per month in the third quarter of 2008. That's not a great deal of money in the long run, but I would imagine that if this is correct, then most of the inhabitants of sub-continent near us should be falling over themselves trying to get here to scrub themselves a dish or two. What the hell was I doing during my school vacation trying to get a clerical position when I could have been earning a relative fortune with a pair of rubber gloves and some Mama Lemon.

I kid you not. According to this report, some 482 kitchen assistants and some 64 dish washers swore on their mothers' graves that they were getting not less than S$1,010 per month in the third quarter of 2008.

And now that we are on the topic of office clerks, it says right here in the same report that 80 office clerks interviewed for this survey were earning an average of S$1,679 per month in the third quarter of 2008. We was robbed!! What did these 80 office clerks do to earn this kind of salary when I was signing up for half of this amount?!

"Upon what meat doth this, our Caesar, feed, That he is grown so great?”

In other news, I have taken it upon myself to transport the whole ging gang, chickens and all, to Disneyland at some point in the next month or so. We have informed The Son accordingly, and he has kindly confirmed that he will attend.

Having gone through the brochures at some length, The Son has expressed an interest in taking some time off his busy schedule to meet Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy. In particular, he plans to bring the Baby Sister to visit the House of Goofy with the full parental entourage and in preparation for this grand occasion, has begun watching "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" on the Disney Channel with renewed enthusiasm. The Husband and I, on the other hand, have limited our efforts in this regard to working on our Mickey Mouse improvisations. It just kills me to listen to The Husband scream and curse at other drivers on the road in his Mickey Mouse voice.

This post would not be complete without a post-script on my attempts to close my bank account with the world's local bank. It took me 1.5 hours standing (standing) at the counter alternately arguing and pleading with the counter staff, but yes, I closed my account with the bank in just one day. That I regard that as my singular greatest achievement of last week (maybe also this week) shows how low my expectations have fallen.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

You Did What - Part II

Over the weekend we had a blitz of innoculations at the House of Smoot, when The Grandma decided in a burst of enthusiasm to innoculate The Daughter against a host of childhood diseases.

In a second wind of enthusiasm, it seems she also innoculated The Son against chickenpox. And herpes. HERPES. So now we have a 4-year old in the house who is immune to HERPES.

If the news gets out, people will start to wonder if The Husband and I have a dirty little secret. Which, as far as I am aware, given that we have both gone through the horror of medical checkups recently, I believe we still don't.

In other news, I watched in horror as my credit card debt ballooned from S$142.87 to S$400, reflecting a 280% increase. I called the bank and waited on hold for about 3 minutes, while listening to their jingle about "flexible rates, flexible loans". Indeed. After much discussion, and after all the blood in my body had risen to my head and neck, they reluctantly agreed to waive what they themselves called "the penalty charges". A little bit of legal irony there, since it is well-established law in Singapore that penalty charges are unenforceable. Perhaps I should not have put it so exclusively. It is well-established law in Commonwealth countries generally that penalty charges are unenforceable. But it appears my bank (the world's local bank) is bulletproof.

I would cut up the card, but I don't want to ruin a good pair of scissors. I will attend at the bank this evening to pay my S$142.87 and use their scissors instead.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Oh Jesus

So we've been trying to sell our house for a few months, and only (well, mostly) because The Mother wants us to move across the island and live opposite her house, so she can be closer to the grandkids. I'm sure that, 48 hours after we do move in and she receives the full blast of her grandchildren, she will be begging us to move again.

Anyway. I've always found property agents to be a little, just a little bit, fanatical about, of all things, God, but I believe the one that I have may just put them all to shame. For one thing, she keeps sending me text messages about her achievements. I can't say that I've kept them all but the latest one just poked me in the eye a little too hard, so I kept it just to show The Husband.

It goes something like this:

"Millions of thanks for your support n recommendations! I just received [agency name] Top 50 Achievers Award No. ___ position. [Agency] will publish in Straits Times and Lian He Zao Bao tomorrow full page full colour. All glory and honour to my Lord Jesus Christ! Yours sincerely [Agent's name] Serving with gratitude and thankfulness."

Maybe it's just my ignorance speaking but what about everyone else - did she mean to say that God didn't find them a similar spot in the top 50 because she was preferred? It's just like that big signboard I saw some time ago at Newton Circus, which said "100% units sold THANKS BE TO GOD". Does God sell real estate? Did he line up with the rest of the agents with a bunch of brochures to sell sell sell?

It reminds me of the contestants on American Idol as well who ask God to help them get to Hollywood. It doesn't so much glorify religion as it trivialises it. God is not your personal bitch. He should not be selling real estate. He should not be asked to sell real estate. Just as I try not to bother him with getting my clients to pay their invoices on time. If they don't pay, then I sort it out myself. I do not get down on my knees and ask the Lord of all Creation to make sure that Client X takes note of our 30-day credit period and also to make sure that when Client Y pays by telegraphic transfer, they make sure to add on the S$20 bank charge. It's just... not done.

Also, what bothers me about that text is that it has more than the usual "holier than thou" one-two sucker punch to it. It makes everyone else look like bloody idol-worshipping heathens for not EXALTING enough. For not collapsing on their knees immediately in a semi-conscious rambling state so as to IMMEDIATELY thank God for smiting all the other estate agents and making them non-top 50 so that she could be amongst the top 50. I wonder what the Top 10 are like. I'm sure if she made Top 10, she would be dragging some kind of live animal to the church altar.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Here Comes the Fuck-Lady

I dropped off The Son in school this morning, and one of his teachers had a little chat with me. I suspect I was just the person she wanted to see.

So it appears that The Son's classmate went home and used the F-word in front of his horrified mother, who asked him where he learned That Word from, and was informed that her son had learned it from The Son. She informed the teachers of The Son accordingly. The teachers rounded up all the kids and asked them if any of them knew A Bad Word starting with "F". And the second syllable is "Uh".

My Son puts up his hand and says, helpfully - "And the last sound is "CK"!!"

So busted.

He then informed his teachers that yes, his mother uses the F-word, and she has used it on him too, but this was only this one time when she was really really angry with him, and she hasn't used it again since.

I was at a complete loss for words. Frankly, I do not ever recall using "the F-word" on him, although I use it in ordinary conversations with The Husband, and sometimes, unavoidably, in the hearing of The Son. Unless I have a lobotomy, there is no way I am going to change my ordinary daily speech pattern.

When The Son was 2.5 years old, he said "fuck" in the car. Mainly to himself, and apropos of nothing in particular (I think he was trying it on for size). We informed him several times, with rephrasing and repetition, that it was a very naughty word and that he should never ever use it. Since then, he's never said it in our hearing. I thought he had forgotten the word altogether. After all, we just taught him a whole bunch of dinosaur names and I thought that would have wiped out his memory space ("RAM") altogether.

What troubles me is that my son has shown himself to be far, far better at sanitizing his language in front of adults, than we are at sanitizing our language in front of him. He appears to be much more sophisticated than he lets on. Hmm.

Throughout all this, whilst his teacher is talking to me, I can't help but notice that The Son is hovering and lurking in the background, trying to eavesdrop and giving me really broad uneasy smiles. He has even forgotten to take off his shoes. His classmate, who has only seen me once, comes all the way up to the gate to get a better look, and I get the full force of a 4 year old's fixed unblinking stare. I guess he must want to see what a person who says "fuck" looks like.