Monday, September 14, 2009

171 - When people don't understand how I feel about moving to the UK

There's a lot of emotion brewing inside of me as I enter this final week in Hong Kong. There are many things of which I still haven't done, but had originally planned to do, and a lot of people who I will not see before I fly off to England, but wish I could. I can honestly say, though, that I have tried my best to fit in the most important people and the most important things-to-do into my schedule. I don't know how I'm ever going to stop missing this place after I leave, how I will miss the thousands of streets on which I've walked a thousand times, the unique wonderful taste of the food here I love so much, and the beaches, the carparks, the piers, the malls, the parks, the schools, the bowling alleys, the bookstores, the supermarkets and the countless other locations of which I know like the back of my hand, and altogether, integrate, interweave and incorporate with one another in this giant lattice to constitute this familiar city I describe as my place of birth, my living environment, my home.

When other people hear about why I will miss this place so much, they attempt to reassure me by patting me on the back, brushing my shoulder, and telling me that I can always come back home during my holidays, and that I can keep in touch with people online at any time, but what they fail to realize is that those aren't really valid points.

Truth be told, I never want to come back, and I don't want to talk to anyone online.

About 95% of my life consists of my mother, my father and my best friend. I have dinner with my mom, drinks with my dad, and talk on the phone about everything else with my best buddy. I cannot just fly back whenever I want to, and I cannot just make a call to Hong Kong whenever I want to. There are huge costs for such homebound travel,
I don't have the money for me to come back anytime.

Additionally, we each have our respective lives to lead. I've tried communicating with all three of them online, and it's just not the way our relationships work. We are all people who move on quickly (for our own reasons) if the circumstances for communication are inconvenient. I believe our correspondence will gradually be reduced to a minimum, and we all will find a way to accept the geographical and emotional separation between us, and the consequences of said distance.

With all my heart, I don't want to ever come back at this point. Ultimately, I believe I've spent too much of my life in one place, and it would be a waste of my life, and a wastage of this Earth, to spend another day here after I finish my course. I know that may sound bizarre, but that's genuinely what I feel.

People ask me, "why do you say you'll miss it then if you hate it so much?"

Have these people not been paying attention?

I don't hate Hong Kong. When did I say that?

And of course, I'll miss it, why wouldn't I miss it?

It's as simple as this: I am very excited and so glad to leave, but I will miss my childhood home nonetheless. I want to go and explore the whole wide world, starting with England, but it's just going to be emotionally difficult to move on, because Hong Kong has been my entire life. Is that so difficult to comprehend, or are my thoughts really that convoluted?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

170 - Having no common sense

Just recently, I discontinued my post as a bartender in a Belgian restaurant. I was so good by the end of the three months in which I worked that a part of me didn't want my first ever job to surcease. The restaurant I worked at was already a little bit understaffed, and I felt like I was abandoning a team, like an integral cog in the Belgian machine.

Seeing as this company has treated me well, I agreed to help train this one guy who was hoping to replace me in the bar.
He came in for a lunch shift to try out, because lunch is an easier time to go through everything than dinner, due to fewer customers. I thought it would be fun for me, to run through all the morning, afternoon and closing duties with him, to guide him, and to encourage him, and to observe, in an evident way, how much I actually learned in the short space of three months.

By the end of the lunch hour, though, I wanted to tear my hair out.

Speaking honestly, and by that, I mean without exaggeration: he was soooooooooo bad at this job. He would open a bottle of still water, pour a glass of Coke and produce a cup of coffee, and for every little thing, he would bring it to my face and ask me, "Is this okay?"

Uh, hello? It's a glass of Coke. You put ice in a short glass, pour the Coke in, and place a slice of lemon on top. Easy, quick and simple.

As for the coffee, you get the jug of filtered coffee, pour it in a coffee cup, place it on a saucer with a small coffee spoon. A bit more complex, but nothing a full-grown man cannot perform, right?

But come on... to open a bottle of water? You get a bottle opener, position it on the bottle cap in any number of ways, apply some pressure to achieve some leverage, until the cap pops right off. VoilĂ , the bottle of water has been accomplished. Not exactly rocket science, now, is it?

For each and every small detail, he would ask me to confirm that it was okay. But you know what the funny thing was?

The funny thing was that the stuff he brought to the pass were not okay. He put iced lemon tea in a short glass, when the diameters of the lemon wheels are practically the same as the height of the glass. Where's the fun of poking three lemon slices to the bottom of a short glass that's already filled to the brim with ice?

And why would you place a lemon slice garnish at the bottom of a glass of Coke? Does that not defeat the purpose of using it as a garnish? It goes: ice, Coke, lemon... not lemon, ice, Coke. Can you remember that? Is that going to be alright for you to handle?

And you know, even your still water has fault in it, because the order asked for sparkling water. The two words are quite differently spelled, maybe you have ADHD?

And listen to this... He poured the milk, and the brown sugar, into the coffee, for the customer, before he served it. Some people may not want milk, some people may not want brown sugar, and everyone doesn't want you to stir their coffee for them. They might think you're poisoning their drinks.

Oh, my God, I thought these things were common sense??? I THOUGHT THESE THINGS WERE COMMON-DUH!-SENSE. You don't have to work in F&B at all to know these sorts of things. All you need is a brain.

It's funny because the trainee told me that he prepared well for this job. He told me he's worked in a few places before, and has taken a bartending course.

You don't need to take a course to tend bar. So, what, if you memorize two hundred cocktails? Chances are people are going to ask you to pour a beer, or get them a glass of Coke, and, uh, maybe have a chat? Bartending is not that glamorous of a job, and it's not always about fancy bottle juggling and mixing drinks. 98% of the time, you pour a beer, or you get them iced water. So, what the Hell, if you memorize two hundred cocktails? And if your school is so good, tell me, i
s that how they taught you to serve iced lemon tea at the Bartending Academy?

The job is about customer service, and confidence, and quick thinking, and you can't learn these things at school.

But most important of all, and I suspect the case is the same for all fields of work, to be a bartender, it requires common sense. Imagine if you were a customer, and serve drinks like you're serving your own mother. All you need is horse sense, and the rest is simple.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

169 - When other people want to throw my books away

Hello, bloggers. It's been a long hiatus, hasn't it, this summer?

I think I'm going to be back now, back to posting everyday about something that gets on my nerves. Not a lot has come to pass in the past three or four months... I got my exam results, and I didn't really make it into my desired university in London, but I'm going to be studying at the University of Kent instead.

It's located in the city of Canterbury, about forty minutes to the East of London, quite a short distance away from the South-Eastern coast of England. I was looking on the university website, at what people do on their weekends and holidays, and apparently, students can take just two trains, and in just three or four hours, be in Brussels or Paris, which I think is quite neat.

I say goodbye to Hong Kong on the 20th, ten days from today. It's already been emotional for me, gradually packing up everything I own into boxes and suitcases, and going out with my family and friends as often as I can. Hong Kong has been my home for such a long time, and I know every little thing about it. I hate to leave, but on the contrary, I also remember that I was dying to move out of here a few months ago.

Throughout the thoroughly depressing and already homesick three weeks prior to this day, my grandmother has told me periodically that I should throw away some of my old books, or give them away to my younger cousins, an orphanage, a charity group, or the church, because I won't read them anymore, and because it just takes up space in my room here in Hong Kong, an off-the-wall suggestion to me, with a justification that's ridiculous.

I was thinking about packing them all into boxes, and throughout the year, gradually have them shipped to the UK, where I will find the space for them all. I know I don't read the Mr.Men series, or my Goosebumps collection anymore, but why must I get rid of them?

And besides, who are you to say that my property should be dumped in the trash just because they take up space? They're my books, that rest in my room, out of your way, not a bother to you at all. I never tell you to throw away your property, like the spare light bulbs in our cupboard, that we bought years ago and don't even fit into our new lights, the herbal medicine in the fridge which we haven't used in over ten years, and the dozens of Reader's Digest that you keep on your shelf and haven't ever opened after the one time. I don't ask you to dispose of them, because you obviously cherish, and think of as worth keeping, all that stuff that's surely older than my books. Obviously, f I deemed my stuff a bunch of ancient crap, I would've thrown it away ages ago. But I treasure them, so I don't.

But these are books. Educational compilations of texts, of facts and fiction, that enlighten us. Why throw them away? My kids could read them in the future. I could read them again, you never know. And studies have shown that people who generally spend a great deal of time around books have higher Intelligence Quotients. They must continue to exist around me to make me smarter!

...throw them away? No way in Hell.