Saturday, December 13, 2008

Leave these S'porean habits behind?

I put a question mark in the title because I do not necessarily agree with the news article.

It's one of those days when you click to read the online Newpaper, and some articles just leave you snorting away, just like this one did. I wont go as far to say this article is overdramatic, but it certainly doesnt carry a powerful voice. Of course we must remember, we are all entitled to our own opinions.


Going on holiday? (Read original news article here)
Leave these S'porean habits behind


When we are in Singapore, everything is bad. When we are overseas, everything in Singapore is better. Weird, huh?

>> Actually, from my experience of living away from Singapore, i DO THINK Singapore is better in many ways. Of course we have our failings for sure, and despite whatever issues one may have with the govt, like it or not, many things in our country is run better and smoother. So i do not think its weird or a nasty habit to think so. In some ways, its national pride perhaps that shouldnt be doused with one sweeping statement. the only thing that should be said as a bad habit is Singaporeans should STOP saying CHEAP CHEAP in another country. That is rude.

No one knows why we pat seats.

>> Is this column writer close to grandparents or this person must be very young? For the fallacy that NO ONE KNOWS WHY, I hate to contradict but there are people out here familiar with the old folks tales - enlightening WHY people pat seats.

For one, there was a misconception that one can get piles in your arse if you sit on a super warm seat immediately after the previous occupant leaves. So the pat was an alleviation to cool the heat from the surface to "reduce" the heat. The hand is kinda acting like a thermomter to gauge when it is "safe" to sit, while some thinks that patting will "clear" piles contamination. (false of course) .

We love inhaling clouds of dust from dirty seats, but we draw the line at nicotine

>> I think it is NO rocket science to clearly distinct that dust differs from nicotine smoke. While inhaling a short bust of dust doesnt exactly kills you or irritate your organs, cig smoke does. I have yet to hear of any reports that says a puff of dust will warrant bronchitits and damage your lungs( there are contant pollutant in the air anyway), but 2nd hand cig smoke has been told specifically harmful to non smokers. So we do NOT LOVE inhaling clouds, but we definitely SHOULD draw the line at nicotine.

Fanning away the smoke is not necessarily a true act of getting rid of smoke but rather, previously was an indicator to an unware smoker that his smoke is getting to someone. So he might want to put the distance. Of course overtime, the non smoker gets ruder with added commentaries, and smokers just got tired of rude non smokers that this fanning business seemed rude.

There are lots of smokers in HK and it is terrible standing in Q for mini-bus and have a smoker before you. However, I dont fan, I keep a wider distance and that normally does the trick and the smoker either move away more or he quickly puff more and butt it out. See, its not the act itself, its how u interpret the act. Then again, this is a personal opinion.

Another Uniquely Singapore trait, it is an honour code forged in the war zones of lunchtime Raffles Place.

>> While it seem annoying at first glance esp for hungry lunch people, step back and look at it in new light. It means that our society is CIVILISED enough to understand this hidden code. Its our own culture so why take such a bad light of it. A pack of tissue vs another colleague sitting there to book the table. What is the difference? End result, the table is still taken, except that with tissues, everyone can head out and buy their lunch quickly, eat quickly and leave, vs the one guardian being slower and the whole table has to wait for him/ her, hence resulting in longer waiting Q for others.

I honestly do not see the vice of this tissue culture to book seat. It only means that we are polite enough to understand the table is taken, since there isnt a paper and a pen for us to write reserved and person gone to line up for food. It sure is handy when you are alone and you know you have a seat to return to after a long line up for your food order. Surely, it only means our society has evolved enough not to fight over tables?

What is annoying however for potential table hunters, is not tissue to "chop" (reserve) seats. From past experience, the TRUE culprits are those who have finished eating but decided to linger on and hog the table to chat, despite knowing its busy lunch time and there are people waiting for empty tables. THOSE are inconsiderate behaviours that should be highlighted, not the tissue paper culture. These people didnt place tissues there for fun to prevent people from having tables, its for people who need to get their food since we are not table served by the stalls.

Incidentally, I am not a tissue culture groupie. I dont ever carry tissue. The other alternative is to get stranger next to me to hold the seat for me. Tried it, it worked. And honestly, except for the added "excuse me" and "thank you", I fail to see the difference between that and a tissue "stamp".

Then again back to topic at hand, I have NEVER seen any singaporeans doing that out of Singapore. So it really isnt a big deal. Singaporeans are NOT that stupid to assume other nations know our habit. Give our people some credit.


>> I like to point out, this is NOT only peculiar to Singapore. I have seen long Qs, overnight or not, in HK, Tokyo, London. Have u seen a crazy Q during sale in HK? So Singaporeans are rather placid by comparison. And how does joining or forming a Q ever do any harm to anyone? What's the big fuss? Kiasu is not a trait only Sg have, everywhere in the world, there are. Its just we dont live there, we dont see it. Period.


WhiteDuskRed said...

Writer hardly ever leave Singapore shores. Perhaps he/she is just talking about himself/herself.

At least in Singapore one can still find the tissue paper sitting there. In another place it might have been used up by the person sitting there~

And what's so bad about fanning away cigarette smoke? In Japan, people will apologize if their smoke get into your breathing space. That's civilization. Fanning is not wrong. Smokers who let their cigarette smoke invade non-smokers' air is WRONG!

Really don't know what this fellow is writing about... first he write "leave this habits behind" and next he put "queueing" in the list? Talk about writing out of point. Sack the fellow~

littlecartnoodles said...

I agree with WDR ... The writer obviously thinks that only Singaporeans exhibit those types of behaviour and does not know much about the wider world.

Queueing overnight - Hello ? Americans and Europeans queue up days in advance for everything from new Windows releases (maybe not anymore), Star Wars, Harry Potter books ... not to mention the iPhone.

Other examples that he gave:

Taking free hotel shampoo
- What's so wrong with that ? The hotel is already providing that for the guests to use. I'm sure that there're people that call Housekeeping to demand more shampoo/slippers/toothbrushes ... but I'm sure such freeloaders hail from all over and not just SG.

Refusing to tip
- Singaporeans tend not to tip back home since the vast majority of service staff do not deserve any. But I'm quite sure that when they travel, they'd observe local customs. When I dine with my friends in HK and they pick up the bill, they'd always ask me if it's necessary to tip, and how much.

WhiteDuskRed said...

Do you all tip in HK? I only tip when the services are really good.

My rule is simple. I see a 10% (or whatever % is written there) service charge on the bill then there's no mandatory tip. Then if the service is good then I round it up to the next 50 or 100 (in HKD).

You'd think I will tip when there's no 10% svc tax. Actually no. Still depends on the service quality.

So what's there to learn from all these if I'm a restaurant owner? Just charge that 10% svc tax because people who tip will still tip if you provide good service. lol~

"me-no-mad" said...

Nod nod.. agree agree to all the feedbacks! And I was wondering earlier after I had posted it, if I was the only one overly sensitive about how "lack of depth" and unconvincing the article was - overtly naive and missing views from lateral horizon.

I was laughing about the tissue bit that it will prob be used by someone else. I couldnt help but agree!!! People will think "Free tissues today?"

"me-no-mad" said...

when it comes to tipping in HK or anywhere else (Except in states where they still consider 15% tip to be mandantory or you get a stinker),

depending on where I go.
- generally if its those chinese restaurants (with aircon sort and seating sort that comes with condiments), i would leave the spare change if the service isnt that bad. If I sign the card, then i wont bother unless service has been pretty decent.

- if its the more expensive restaurant, generally would leave about 10% if service is good, 5% if average service and 0% if lousy slow service

in other countries
- europe/ australia, generally would leave about 5-10% depending on service and meal quality. Have yet to leave no tip

in sg.
- chinese restaurants, I would never tip if served by china staff who cannot speak english.
too bad. call it nationalistic or whatever, I prefer to tip restaurant who hire local help. Because if the place choose to hire mainly china people (due prob to lower pay), that means they are not willing to hire and pay local more, so why should I encourage that "increase margin" notion?

- in western restaurants, depending on service, I would still tip between 5-10%, unless it has been a horrendous experience. I figure its fine since I do not consume wine and that's usually where the profits are hidden.

- but places like crystal jade, tony romas etc, somehow i wont tip (not even in HK) because its not like an experience, it's to serve a mean of filling up my tummy.