Les Petits Contes

About life's little observations, which matter. About hilarious situations, which illuminate. About stories which offer immense possibilities, open endings, different interpretations and perspectives.

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Location: Singapore

A nature lover; sun-worshipper, manic book-collector, dessert-devourer and a magnet for hazards

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Should I be Amused or ... ?


NYDC at Holland Village used to be a nice restaurant. I have enjoyed dining there for years. Yummy, decadent desserts; succulent, scrumptious sandwiches; huge, icy cold freezes.

Since last year, standards seem to have dropped. The pizza was desiccated and depressing, the chicken tired and tasteless.

Still, I walked in last Sunday afternoon, hungry for a salad. Maybe the effect of a lazy Sunday afternoon, plus that of a gloomy economic outlook, had affected the ambience of the place.

The restaurant was pretty empty, and looked even more fatiqued than the gloomy economy. The service was unforgivably inattentive. I had to walk up to a waitress to order a farmhouse salad.

The salad came in a big cheerful red bowl, a big contrast to the lackluster presentation of the withered ingredients inside, which had been amateurishly thrown in.

But the bowl was a disposable, plastic bowl. I stared at it for a long time, incredulous. I looked around at other diners. Whatever they were eating – sandwiches, pasta, meat, cheesecakes - they were all eating out of proper crockery – porcelain plates, bowls, side plates. I held my bowl up and looked below. Yes, it is a disposable. I tapped on it. Yes, it has that hollow disposable sound.

I felt like a kid with a huge meal in front of me, forced to eat my vegetables. Mind you, it was a big serving, a main course, a whopping $13 salad. Yet this expensive bowl of vegetables doesn’t deserve to be presented nicely in a proper bowl, but in a disposable, for fear that I might break the bowl? Or were they trying to do the favourite thing of every business - re-engineering (aka ‘’cut cost’’) and avoid breakages and wasting water and detergent to wash salad bowls?

It’s not even a stained, scratchy melamine bowl, like those on board a plane or at a hawker centre! I tired to tuck in with my real fork and knife, trying hard not to cut the flimsy plastic with the knife. No, I am no militant environmentalist trying to save the earth. I am only trying to have a pleasant dining experience.

I gave up. I walked up to yet another inattentive waitress and handed over the plastic, and asked her to transfer the salad onto a ‘’proper bowl or plate’’. I also handed in my feedback card.

This time, unusually promptly, a waiter walked over with the ridiculously offending bowl, and said: ‘’ma’am, here, we serve all our salads in this kind of bowl.’’

Me: Oh, can you transfer it to a porcelain like the way you serve other food?
Waiter: But here, we serve salads in this kind of bowl.
Me: I find it so funny eating out of a disposable….
Waiter: But it’s like that, we serve salads this way.
Me: OK, fine, if you can’t transfer, then I can’t eat this way. Would you rather I cancel my order?
Waiter: OK. (Turning away to shout to his colleague, ‘’eh, cancel order…’’)

Should I be amused or flabbergasted?

Maybe neither of the above. Maybe I should just be evil and wish the economy in Singapore will never pick up, and wish that more such insolent, nonchalant, unthinking service staff will be retrenched and go hungry, and wish that the government will stop pampering such softies with ‘’economy-saving/ job saving packages’’.

Maybe, maybe, no matter how bad the economy and how hungry our people are, they will never ‘’get it’’.

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