After all the preparation, then the race, then reliving the whole thing to write the race report (Part 1 and Part 2), I’m ready to talk about something besides “The 50K“. [Cue all my readers breathing a sigh of relief.]
Since The New Blog Plan has designated Wednesdays as “Singapore Stories” day (or some other recurring feature), let’s try a short story for
today yesterday (I actually wrote most of this on Wednesday, I swear). And I promise, this post will be less than 600 words.
I should preface this story by noting that the standard for customer service in Singapore sometimes feels….somewhat low to someone who was born and raised in the United States. This is not to say that I haven’t had any good customer service experiences here, because I certainly have. [Although admittedly, unlike in the US, the fastest and most polite service often comes from government agencies, as opposed to private businesses. But I digress.] Regardless, a number of my “Singapore Stories” will be rooted in customer service experiences, as they are often the ones that leave me scratching my head. So without further ado, let’s go to the supermarket.
Scene: The fish counter at the local supermarket. This is similar to the fish counter at a US supermarket, except that instead of fillets, whole fish are sitting on ice: head, scales, guts, etc. You choose the fish you want, then ask one of the staff behind the counter to gut it and remove the scales. [Incidentally, you do still get the whole fish: head, fins, etc.]
I select a small pomfret (it only needs to feed KMN and I) and hand it to the auntie behind the counter. A small bit of some organ is protruding through the kill-cut (I think), but I don’t think twice about that, since I’m going to ask for it to be gutted anyway.
[Don’t mind the approximate Singlish.]
Me: *hands fish over counter* Can clean for me, please?
Fish Auntie: Don’t want this one. *points to protruding innards*
Me: Ahh…it’s OK. Will clean anyway, yah?
Fish Auntie: *shaking head* No, no – don’t want. *takes fish from me, buries back in display ice*
Me (assuming she knows something about fresh fish selection that I don’t): Ooook.
Fish Auntie: *digging around for another pomfret*
Me: Small one, please. Small. Just for two people.
Fish Auntie: *holds up somewhat larger pomfret*
Me: Errrr…smaller one can? That one a bit big.
Fish Auntie: *puts fish on scale* 400 (grams).
Me: *shakes head* Mmmm…a bit big. Smaller one can?
Fish Auntie: *nods, prints pricing label, takes fish back to cleaning counter*
I have no idea.
Language barrier? Possibly, but her English seemed pretty good to me.
Upselling? Perhaps, but it’s not like she’s working on commission.
Overall misunderstanding? Maybe.
An Auntie just being an Auntie? Most likely…
[KMN’s Peranakan family has taught me to respect the matriarchy!]
There was a time (not too long ago) when this would have left me huffing and puffing and peevish. Instead, I just laughed. A few more grams of fish wasn’t going to break the bank. So I came home that day with some extra fish, and a story. And when I recounted the story to KMN, he didn’t seem the least bit surprised.
The only major disadvantage of the extra fish? Microwaving fishy leftovers the next day really did stink up the apartment…
*Fish Commission = Fishmission? Fission?
Would you laugh it off or try to insist on the smaller fish?
Ever cooked a whole fish?
[We usually poach ours, but I’m open to other suggestions!]