Breaking the Bro Code

He got into the car and reversed it. Right into the opposite wall. Darn.

He hated driving. He got out of the car to assess the damage. Well, it did not seem too bad. It definitely wasn’t worse than yesterday’s and the worst of the damage has already been dealt so today’s one didn’t stand out much.

Chuck absolutely hated driving. He used to be just a passenger who rode shotgun in Nate’s car. That was fun. Fiddling with the radio and having ample of leg space was his thing. Fiddling with a wheel and having his leg space cramped up by two pedals were not.

Nate recently hooked up with Gyna and insisted that it was his divine duty as boyfriend to fetch her to college everyday. And he also insisted on privacy.

“Dude, when you get a girlfriend – if you get a girlfriend – I will totally respect your space.”
Well that was that.

Having a best friend leave you for a girl was a terrible feeling but he was getting used to it. He was far from getting used to driving though.

He was crawling down the road in his Red Myvi, waving to most of the neighbors he knew whenever they zoomed past him. One friend, Mark, rolled down his window and yelled,

“Speed up, you incompetent snail.”
Chuck laughed and rudely gestured in reply.

It took long, but Chuck finally got there.

A petite girl rushed up to Chuck, a clipboard clutched in her hands. “Chuck! Chuck! Here’s a list of the cohort who voted for you last year.”

Oh, right. On top of Nate’s shit, Chuck still had to deal with the Presidential election shit.

Chuck took the clipboard from the girl. “Thank you so much, Clarice. What will I ever do without you.” He faked a wide smile and made a smooching sound.

Clarice grimaced. “Eurgh.” Then she muttered under her breath, but just loud enough so Chuck heard her. “You’d just be another loser.” Clarice flounced off.

Chuck smiled to himself. He recently promoted Clarice to campaign manager, ever since Nate left a gaping hole badly in need of a position in his campaign group. She did do the job well but… things just weren’t the same.

Just then, James yelled to Chuck from the other end of the corridor. James was a very bold and outspoken freshman that was the newest addition to Chuck’s campaign group. Chuck disapproved of James’s unorthodox methods and outlandish behavior but his astounding results had convinced Chuck. James printed out Chuck’s campaign leaflet and had mailed it to every students house in one night, together with a handmade wristband that said ‘For Chuck’.

This was done before James was even officially part of the group. Chuck wondered what has he done so right to have a person such as James to idolize and worship him like he did.

“Chuck Chuck Chuck!” James shouted excitedly as he quickly closed the distance between himself and the approaching Chuck. He scampered to a stop in front of him. “We need Nate.”

Chuck was, as always, amused by his enthusiasm and said the first sentence that he usually said to James. “Woah there kid, slow down.”

“I’m not kidding man. Clarice isn’t right for the job. I mean she does what she’s told, but she doesn’t have the ideas like Nate does. Nor does she do anything else out of initiative, unlike the time when I-”

Chuck cut him off. “The time you mailed my campaign leaflets. Yes yes, I really appreciate that. I really do. But what’s this now that you’re talking about Nate?”
“It is rumoured that Gyna is running for President.”

Well that wouldn’t be a problem, Chuck thought. He can easily show her who’s the true president in this school. He had earned the title for three straight years and he was convinced that pretty much the whole school is convinced that he is the one for the job.

Then James dropped the bomb.

“And Nate is her campaign manager.”


Nowhere near 1000 words, but I’m still working on the story. But I think “And Nate is her campaign manager.” makes a good cliffhanger.

Breaking the Bro Code

Revenge is Six Inches and Best Served Fresh and Cold

Revenge is definitely sweet. Although in this particular story, I am not a victim, and my target is not the perpetrator.

My loyal readers would not be able to miss out the many posts I wrote during the chapter of my life where I worked as a Sandwich Artist at Subway. But if you are new (or ignorant) let me enlighten you, I’ve worked in Subway the fast food restaurant for two months. And two days ago was the first time I found myself on the opposite side of the counter.

I made the first mistake before I even knew I made it. I told the man my order before I chose my bread. How ironic. I’ve served so many customers who made the same mistake. By now I should have learnt not to make the same mistake now. Well, foolish me told my menu to the man anyway and then smiled confidently. Then he repeated the phrase that I have chanted like a mantra for two months: “Your Bread?” My smile faltered.
I wanted to tell him, “Can I have the biggest six inch there is?” but he looked very professional and how could I bring myself to stoop so low before him? Instead, I asked for a Parmesan six inch.

He confirmed my order once more and proceeded to dress the sandwich. At this point, I recognised a beeping noise in the background. I looked behind the man and my suspicions were confirmed, the speed oven toaster was the source of the noise. A bread has been put inside and the timer is up. The girl at salad bar was either deaf, or did not care. I grumbled to myself, thinking that I could definitely do a better job. If I have learnt anything from my two months working at subway, it’s that I have an invisible pair of arms. Behold, I’m Fred the human semi-octopus.

After several seconds of beeping, the man finally opened the oven door. But to my surprise, shock and distaste, he left the toasted bread inside and the door open. I would have taken the bread out and shut the oven door. The pre-heated air must not escape or else the oven would take a minute or so to reheat itself and in all fast food restaurants, time is of the essence.

After another period of time where time slowed and the seconds were palpably agonising (to me at least), the man alerted the girl beside him who nodded and took another couple of seconds to retrieve the toasted bread and shut the oven door. Poor poor oven.

I peered at the girl from the corner of my eyes and she did not seem cheerful. The man on the other hand seemed like he genuinely loved his job. I moved down the line and observed my own sandwich which, fortunately, did not go through the same process as the previous sandwich did.

Unfortunately, my sandwich now sat in the hands of a very grouchy girl. She held it as if it was dung that sat on the baking paper instead of my beloved sandwich. She looked down at it then up at me, and from her eyes, one could honestly believe that it really was dung that sat on the baking paper.
She did not open her mouth to chant the mantra “Vegetables?” so I took the initiative to tell her “All except jalapeños and pickles” instead.
She then began to stretch her claws to fetch the vegetables from their respective cambros. You could hear the lettuce screaming in terror as the witch ripped them away from their friends and family. I then requested for extra onions and olives, to which she did not acknowledge or nod to, but I did get my extra serving anyway. I would have liked a bit more courtesy with it though.
Then when it came to sauce, I did not get a vocal prompt, but instead she pointed her ‘dung-stare’ at me once more. She accompanied it with a casual wave of her hand.
I chose the Honey Mustard, Sweet Onion and Mayonnaise. She gave me a decent amount of each, par for the mayonnaise. It was a pathetic strip of white no longer than two inches in the middle of the six inch sandwich. It looked like the amount of toothpaste I squeeze on my toothbrush every morning. Disgruntled, I asked for more. AND DO YOU KNOW WHAT SHE DID?
That whore witch gave me another dung look and then she AUDIBLY SIGHED or harumph-ed, to be more exact. Then she gave my sandwich another strip of white that was still less than decent. In retrospect, I should have been furious but at the time, I was amused. I have a pseudo-sadistic tendency where I derive pleasure from annoying people. That huff of agitation from her genuinely made my day.

But honestly, is it that difficult to love your job? In my opinion, customers with special requests colour my job with variety. What would my subway experience be without the customers with horrible atrocious pronunciation? Imagine how dull it would be if everyone requested the exact same order and spoke the same way. This story goes out to the difficult customers, because they are underappreciated, misunderstood and wrongly and unjustly despised.

Revenge is Six Inches and Best Served Fresh and Cold

Goodbye Subway

I meant to do this earlier, but my mother has been insisting that I sleep early so now here I am, burning the midnight oil once more to attend to my postponed plans.

My last day of working at Subway was last Friday, July 10th! And woah, it has been such a thrill to work there. If you are interested in reading some of the stories and posts that were inspired from my work experience, go look for the tag in my blog labelled ‘Stories From Subway’. I hope you get a good read.

I know none of my coworkers would ever chance upon this blog of mine, but I want to dedicate this to them, and I want to share with the rest of WordPress about the wonderful team of Sandwich Artists I worked with 🙂

  1. The Pale and Loud Guy – This guy is obnoxiously loud. He is ‘bapak kurus’ (skinny as hell) and his eyes look as if they have sinked into his skull, emphasizing his high cheekbones and the hollow temples, eye sockets and cheeks. Pale and loud is one of the coworker’s first impression of him, and he is indeed loud, but I’m not sure about pale. He loves to whine about ‘cerewek’ customers (picky/fussy) after they have left the store. Many of the funny moments we had in the kitchen started from him sharing about a word that a customer mispronounced, or other weird interactions with customers. Personally, I find it insulting and below me to laugh at others because of a silly slip-up in pronunciation, but his laughter is infectious (that, and I also don’t want to seem awkward, ha!) Besides his tendency to whine, he is a wonderful coworker who puts the ‘fast’ in fast food, if we overlook his sometimes messy performance.
  2. The Girl Next Door – This coworker is literally the girl next (next next next next) door. She lives walking distance away from my home and sometimes I would hitch a ride on her car. I don’t have a driving license yet. This girl is very educated, and for this reason, we often get into heated debates with each other. Once, we were discussing over a character in a game she was playing. His/Her name was Taylor, and she kept referring to he/she as ‘it’, while I referred to him/her as ‘him’. I poked fun at her by saying that ‘it’ is only used for animals. Then she resorted to using ‘they’, which confused me, because I thought ‘they’ is a plural pronoun. We argued for ten minutes about that, before a customer interrupted her. She later Wiki-proved to me that ‘they’ is universally accepted as a suitable pronoun for a gender-unknown individual. IT’S TRUE. ‘Singular they’ exists. I know, I know, our lives has been a lie. However, til this day, I am still fighting with her over the use of the ‘singular they.’ I used the point that English teachers would mark you wrong over the use of the ‘singular they’, thus it is still not accepted in academia use, and nor should it be accepted in colloquial conversations. What do you think? Who won? Or is it too petty an issue to fight over?
  3. The British Malaya – This coworker of mine has been living in the UK for fifteen-or-so years and recently came to Malaysia for two years. She speaks English heavily accented with a British touch. But it is already mixed in with the local accent so it is not as sexy as I expected to be. Or maybe my expectations were too high in the first place. Anyway, she is the freshest member on the team and is still adjusting. She is slightly socially awkward and is very blur. Not many people on the team likes her, and I think it’s safe to say that I’m her only friend? She even complimented me by saying I’m so nice and polite to her. I hope she wakes up soon and starts doing a better job so that the rest of the team can warm up to her and stop being so hard on her. She’s only sixteen! My friends should give her a break!
  4. The rest of the team – There’s the retard, the techno lover, the bitchy supervisor and lastly, the nice banana supervisor. Oh, and also, there’s the boss, who is bittersweet to work with. She is the shopkeeper and is a very nice person. She often buys dinner and snacks for us which is partly why we love her. On the other hand, when she’s around, each of our workload always multiplies by at least two-fold. She’ll pull aside the sofas, or dismantle the ovens, or lift up the freezers and suddenly there’s a whole Hidden City of dust that we have to explore and excavate. But free food always tastes nice.
  5. The Banana Supervisor – She’s always on her laptop at the back of the kitchen doing her own stuff, but when she’s needed, POOF, she appears, and WHAM, she slaps on the meat, and WHOOSH, goes the vegetables onto the bread and SPLAT goes the sauce onto the sandwich and CRACK, like magic, the sanwich is complete and wrapped and ready to be served within seconds. She’s the sandwich whisperer. I call her the Banana Supervisor because once, I encountered a Chinese customer who only spoke Mandarin. He pointed at the Turkey and asked what it was. I had trouble explaining so I turned to the other Chinese in the shop, her. She looked at me and said “Dunno! I’m half banana!” (Banana are yellow on the outside and white on the inside, hint hint. Keyword yellow, and white.)

And here’s a hilarious antic to end the story with:

This Chinese girl points at the Tuna and asks me what it was.

I said Tuna.

Then the customer asked in Chinese, Is it made out of beef?

ba-dum-tss!

ba dum tss

Goodbye Subway

Snippets From The Subway Story

Hi all! I have been compiling a(nother) list of my experiences whilst working at Subway. It’s somewhat a continuation of my first list. (List number one can be found here.) There are funny thoughts and frustrated thoughts and some others are in between. I hope I can trust all you readers to not confide with my supervisor about these things that I’m about to share. Enjoy!

  1. I especially hate it when ravenous customers order huge meals and then proceeds to demand for all the vegetables and even extra portions. Their sandwich will be exploding at the seam and almost impossible to fold. I wonder how do they even fit it into their mouth. Do they have un-hinge-able jaws?
  2. When customers address you by your name, inside, I silently go: Oh my god HE/SHE KNOWS WHO I AM. I love that (a few) customers are finally starting to addressing me with my name. A name tag isn’t there just for fun yknow. It also makes my day.
  3. When customers speak too softly, I want them to… SPEAK THE F**K UP. Are they trying to break my highest record of number of “Pardon?” I say in a row?
  4. Once, this British guy walked in and when I was about to put pickles on his sandwich, he told me this: In English we call them Gurkens but in American they call them pickles. Which is so odd because all my life, even throughout all the Sherlock and Doctor Who I watch, I have never heard of gurkens. It’s not even registered as a word! There’s a wavy red line below it! Maybe he made it up.
  5. I love that colleagues getting friendlier and ARE STARTING TO ACTUALLY NOTICE ME! I’m not the invisible rookie anymore!
  6. On the other hand, my supervisor got grumpier. Darn!
  7. Well, I hate that school holidays and the Ramadan period just began because now there are busier peak periods.
  8. One day, we got a surprise visitor in our store. His name is Felix. And Felix was extremely friendly, he buzzed around the entire shop and took a look at all the food that we kept. He kept trying to get his hands on some of the food and we had a headache having to constantly fend him off. Then, one of my supervisors, a chinese woman, let’s call her P, swooped in and grabbed him firmly. Oh, did I mention Felix was a fly? Felix the fly, yes. P swooped in, and caught him, with her bare hands. How impressive is that?
Snippets From The Subway Story

Zati

I never imagined that all my hardship to get a diploma in Tourism and Hospitality would land me the job of a manager in a fast food restaurant. I deliberately alienated my past schoolmates in fear of them finding out where I have unfortunately wound up in life.

However, beyond that, I am actually very content with the curve ball the life has thrown at me. I ended up with wonderful partners and work colleagues. If you have never had a good laugh at least once a day during work, then maybe you should reconsider coming to join me at my store. I’ll hire you if you meet my requirements and my requirements are simple: be a barrel of laughs.

Just the other day, I got to know Cyrus gave out his number to one of the schoolgirls who was a regular customer. She lived around the neighborhood and frequented our store, often accompanied by a gaggle of girlfriends.

The usually easy-going and self-confident Cyrus suddenly turned into a red-faced stuttering boy on shaking legs in front of my eyes. Then I got to know that it was actually a prank that his two other colleagues played on him. They wrote a silly note with his name, number and Twitter address and hid it in the serviettes, so that when Cyrus (who usually managed the cashier) handed the serviettes to her, it would seem like he was the one wrote the note. Poor Cyrus was none the wiser.

His colleagues conspired and drafted this embarrassing prank a few days ago when Cyrus discussed with them about how cute he thought the girl was.

After Cyrus handed out the serviettes, they dropped the bomb on him. After all, a prank would not be funny if the victim had no clue he was in one, so all was revealed to Cyrus. In the midst of Cyrus’s good-natured fury and cries of betrayal, the girl suddenly returned to the cashier.

Cyrus tried to be casual. “Yes, what can I get you?”

“Um, just more tissues, please.”

“Alright sure.” Cyrus replied, then he hesitated before proceeding with, “Did you get my message?”

The girl had been trying hard not to make eye contact but she then suddenly looked up, and straight into Cyrus’s eyes. It was an electric moment; she smiled shyly, he tried his best to maintain his game face. But she looked away too quickly, and he never got an answer.

But he was not one to give up, so after he gathered a stack of serviettes and handed them to her, he persisted. “Just curious, what is your name?”

“Zati.”

“Zati? Alright Zati, here’s your tissue. Thank you and come again.”

As soon as she left, Cyrus’s two friends burst out laughing again.

“Dude! Can’t you even wait for her to go further away (out of earshot) ?” Cyrus cringed.

Ignoring his pleas, the two friends chorused simultaneously. “Haha that was awesome dude.”

“You’re the man, Cyrus. You the man.”

~

Shortly after, Zati and her clique have finished their meals and proceeded straight for the door. Cyrus and his friends were still gossiping unprofessionally behind the service bar (but I pretended not to see anything.) Then Syuk bellowed, “Bye, Zati!” and ducked below the counter. Cyrus looked glared at him with wrath. But he caught Zati’s attention; it was too late.

Zati turned back. Cyrus was still glaring at Syuk. But Zati made eye contact with Cyrus’s other friend. Spontaneously, he pointed at Cyrus while kicking him at the heel. Cyrus looked up and gave a timid wave. Zati’s gaggle of girlfriends exploded with “Oohs” and “Ohs” and giggling. Syuk straightened himself from hiding below the counter and held his palm up high for a high five. “You the man,” he said.

“Dude! Wait for them to leave the store, man!” Cyrus held his laughter in for a few more seconds… then all three of them erupted with laughter, patting each other on the back while high fives went all around.

Meanwhile, I burst out laughing at the back where I witnessed the entire exchange through the CCTV system.

Zati

The Lady Before Me In The Queue

It was a hot but windy afternoon which made the air-conditioning of the shop feel ten times better. I was happy to join the end of the queue to enjoy several minutes more of man’s finest creation.

The lady before me in the queue did not seem to share my patience though: she exhaled so loudly through her nose and anxiously peeked over the shoulder of the customer before her every few seconds. She reminded me of a giant buffalo going “Harrumph!”, only with crossed arms instead of crossed eyes. (Perhaps she had crossed eyes as well, I couldn’t see through her black shades.)

When it was finally her turn, I was surprised at how courteous and professional she was. She even accepted her meal with a beaming smile. I was disappointed; I was expecting a good show.

But I got what I wanted later on. The waiter walked over barehanded and greeted her with a smile. I was not near enough to eavesdrop and I wondered what was happening because the next thing I knew, she was now shouting at the waiter.

It sounded like an accusation towards the waiter for being slow, dim-witted and incompetent. She was drawing stares from everyone else in the store now. I felt so much sympathy for the poor waiter now.

Then as quickly as it broke out, the altercation subsided. She continued with her meal and he continued with his servicing. The woman must have been having a really bad day I suppose.

The Lady Before Me In The Queue

It’s Just Life

He looked forward to seeing the new girl for the closing shift. She had pretty lips which were a shade of deep pink like orchids. It was a sharp contrast against her dark skin, but he did not mind. He knew she used lip gloss too because that shade of pink never occurs naturally, but he thought they looked great nevertheless.

He parked his bike in front of the shop and looked through the full glass doors. There she was, standing behind the sandwich bar. She motioned to him to rush in. Puzzled, he did a sloppy shortcut to lock his bike and pushed open the glass doors.
“ID?” She asked loudly.
“Seventy one,” he replied.
It took his long legs less than five strides to cover the distance between them.
“What’s up?” He asked.
“I helped you punch in. It’s three.” She gestured to the clock.
He pressed a button to find out what time he clocked in.
2:59:56
“4 seconds early!” He raised my eyebrows, impressed.
She replied nonverbally with a very self satisfied expression.

But that was eight hours ago. Now, he is entering the same code she did eight hours ago, only this time, he is doing it to punch out. The girl left shortly after he arrived. He did not get the notice that she was reallocated to the morning shift, otherwise he would have requested to be in the morning shift too. He watched the receipt printer whine and emit electronic squeaks as it churned out his clock out ticket.

Hours worked: 8:03:25
Time punched in: 2:59:56

Those eight hours were no fun at all, he thought. Customer after customer streaming in endlessly, and not a single chance to sit. His back ached like he was fifty and everything was running low. He had run out of ways to paraphrase the words “Sorry that one is finished” and ended up giving up and reciting “Sorry that one sold out. Could you pick something else?” like a broken tape recorder. It was a horrible day. At least now he finally gets to go home.

But at the back of his mind, he secretly knew and dreaded the fact that he had to come to work the next day, and the next, and the day after that too. And probably everyday for the next few weeks too.

It’s Just Life