There was a new full-time staff at the F&B outlet I work part-time at yesterday.
She came just as I was about to end shift, so I did not get the chance to talk to her yesterday. Upon our first interaction, she was like a big friendly giant: lumbering slowly around, seemingly harmless, largely forgettable, mostly unremarkable.
She came late for her shift today, and I badly needed the washroom. I internally grumbled and pouted about having co-workers who weren’t on time and who weren’t at all efficient in their work. I wrote her off, telling myself to just cruise by, for school was about to start, and I wouldn’t be there at the outlet much longer.
But then I watched, as she struck up a conversation with each and every customer she served, always offering a warm smile and a cheery goodbye.
I watched as she kept her calm serving an overbearing customer, even offering to remake her drink from scratch, and thanking her for her patronage after. I listened as she confessed her panic afterwards, telling me that she did not want the customer to be angry or displeased by the product/service.
And so we started talking, with me starting the ball rolling by asking her about her full-time position here.
I learnt that she started working from the age of 15, working and paying her own way through part-time studies at NUS, and eventually graduating recently with a degree in environmental engineering at the age of 27. I found out that she had worked her way up in a laboratory whilst studying, from being a lab technician to a chemist.
I exulted in her excitement, when she found out that I too, study in NUS, and felt a kind of warmth that older sisters exude, when she kept telling me to study hard, for this was my future.
I admired her resilience, as she spoke frankly about lost opportunities and pay differentials, and learnt a whole lot more in the things left unsaid.
I respected her optimism in deciding that this job is just a stepping stone to something better, that things can turn around in the future for the better.
I realised then, that, all my problems and whining about a terrible CAP, or nasty experiences really pale in comparison. I want for nothing, my parents pay for my tuition fee and wholeheartedly support me in all of my endeavours in their little ways. Here was kakak, positive, brilliant and so so personable, and I feel so ashamed for having initially written her off as inconsequential, because she is a much better person than I am, or can aspire to be.
I cannot wait for work again tomorrow.