Who bears the costs?

Why are there now so many people in Singapore who seem to think it’s acceptable and appropriate to take up seats at McDonald’s or Starbucks without actually being patrons?

I spend a lot of time in coffee shops or cafes reading or writing or doing yarn work, because it gets me out of the house at least. But when I do, I’ll buy a drink or two, maybe a snack. There’s rental and utilities and employees to be paid, after all. And yes, if I linger a long time, I feel faintly guilty and I’ll spend a little more. I also make a point of clearing after myself, so that the already overworked staff have less to do.

But in the last year or so, I’ve noticed a lot of people who walk into a Starbucks, sit down, and proceed to spend the next half-hour or hour there without purchasing anything. I’ve even seen several pull out drinks and food—obviously freshly purchased elsewhere—for consumption. They sit for quite a while, and often even leave their debris behind for the staff to clear. I’ve witnessed the establishment lose customers because of lack of seating.

Look, I get that I’m privileged in my disposable income, and I get that not everyone has the means to or wants to spend money at Starbucks (but McDonald’s? A cone is 50 cents…) but that doesn’t automatically give you the right to sit in their space, use their facilities, and deprive them of paying customers. If you don’t want to spend the money, or can’t, you need to find a different place to be, no? I’ve seen clearly homeless people asleep in the 24-hour McDonald’s near my home at 2 a.m. and think it’s sweet McDonald’s leaves them alone. That’s different.

I also get that you can be tired from a day of walking around, and it’s hot outside and you want a seat and some AC. But in most cases I’ve observed, these people are carrying shopping or the food they’ve purchased is… well, it isn’t homemade food. The people I’ve observed do honestly appear to be at least comfortably middle-class people, who can’t even say “I can’t afford it.”

You could argue we need more seating in malls and commercial spaces, more communal spaces that are free of charge, and maybe water fountains—and I’d agree!—but that’s a separate discussion too. I remember hanging out at open air car parks and green spaces and sharing a drink at a fast food place when I was a poor student or early on in my working life. Some public amenity not existing doesn’t mean a private establishment is required to provide you with it, especially at cost to them. We do have parks and void decks and libraries and community centres and kopitiams and food courts, where space is often abundant, often free, and also often air-conditioned. Why not choose those?

So honestly, serious question, I want to know what is going through their heads that they think this is okay. Is it more “I want this and therefore I should have it” thinking? Because that just seems wrong.


Blessings leaven burdens

This morning, I checked in to Thomson Medical Centre for day surgery. I’ve been in Singapore for the last two weeks, waiting to do a couple of procedures I’d been hoping were unnecessary. Suffice to say that it’s girl stuff surgery, I’m waiting for results, and that’s all the detail that’s necessary for now.

What I’m thinking about today though is grace. The husband couldn’t take time off work to accompany me, in part because he already lost two weeks to dengue. And yes, that was terrifying. Small-t terrifying, but still terrifying. The last couple of times I’ve been under, I was comforted by knowing he was on the other end, ready to catch me as I came out.

Despite that, I feel blessed. Blessed in my friends, that my friend R came to ferry me home after surgery, even though she lives in the west end of Singapore, even though I’m staying in the east.

And she even brought me flowers!!!

That when my surgery date was confirmed, I immediately had friends—not just one!—ask who would be there to take me home after surgery.

That tonight I’ve been fed out of my sister’s fridge. That my sister and brother-in-law have had me stay with them the last two weeks, despite being busy and having a baby, and that what was supposed to be a weekend turned into two weeks! That I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with my amazing, adorable niece.

Someone being moody, hehheh.

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人见人爱。Yes, I’m totally biased. 🙂

That all week, and all today, I’ve had people care enough to ask me what’s going on, how I am.

That my sister-in-law is finally out of the hospital after 43 days, and can eat. That this eases the strain on my brother a little.

That I come from a country where I can walk down the street, in shorts, alone, late at night, and feel nothing at all, that worrying about my safety isn’t the first, or even the second, or the third, thing on my mind. That I can even walk along the street at all without dodging open drains, random gawkers, traffic, importunate strangers.

And where you see all of this on one road.

That my friend C has been, as usual, open with his home and his time and his appetite, and will also be accompanying me to the airport on Friday so I don’t have to schlep my own bags.

Mmm, amazing burger at Luke’s Oyster Bar and Chop House, with C.

Meat and oysters. My mouth was very happy; my waistline perhaps less so.

That my friends have made time for me, to go shopping, trawling Katong for food, to play Rock Band, to eat very good food, to waste time trying to figure out a labyrinthine board game. 🙂

Thank you, universe. More often than not, I forget this, but that doesn’t make it any less true: I am lucky to be loved in so many ways, by so many people. Thank you all. ❤