Saturday, December 29, 2012

Memory Lapse

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been temping in a client’s office. When you’re used to working from home, it’s a bit of a shock to the system to have to get all dressed up and then get on a train along with what looks to be the entire population of Europe, China, Australia and the Indian Sub-Continent.
            On the train ride to Raffles Place, Saffy, who’d been uncharacteristically quiet, suddenly stood up on tip-toe to whisper loudly in my ear, “Is it just me or are the guys on this train seriously hot?”
            I swiveled my head around the carriage. Eventually, I leaned back down and said, “I haven’t taken the rush hour train in yonks, so I don’t really have a reference point.”
            “No, really, they’re gorgeous. Look at that guy at your nine o’clock.  Not noon, you numb nut! Nine o’clock!,” my flatmate hissed. “Oh God, how do you not know your directions code? Turn to your left!”
            After a bit of confused head-turning, I finally located Saffy’s object of lust du jour. “What about him?”
            “Don’t you think he looks like Hrithik Roshan?”
            Apparently, as soon as Saffy got off the train, she immediately called Amanda to complain about how useless I was to go train cruising with.
            “He doesn’t even know his directions code! I told him to look at his ten o’clock and he looked right! But I’m telling you, Amanda, the quality of men in this town has improved dramatically since the banks started hiring the Frenchies back! They’re so hot!” said Saffy, wannabe SPG.
            “I'm gone off Frenchmen. I’m more into Chinese men now,” Amanda said. “The other day, I was waiting for a taxi and the guy in front of me looked just like Dai Yang Tian. I couldn't stop staring!”
            Meanwhile, back in the office, I was seriously bored.
            Everyone just sat at their desks staring at their computer screens. No one smiled. When they arrived in the morning, they didn’t say hello or good morning to anyone.  No one chatted. No one made eye contact.
            All day, I itched to get up, stretch and walk around, but by the severe look on the boss’s face you could tell this wasn’t that kind of office.
            I sent an SMS to Saffy. “This place is the pits. I can’t wait for lunch!”
            Saffy’s reply came pinging back in seconds. “Are there any cute Frenchies there?”
            I ignored it and went back to watching the clock tick slowly towards lunch. When the second hand slid to 12.30pm, I slithered out the back door and made a dash for the hawker centre at Golden Shoe where Sharyn was already waiting patiently with a packet of tissues on the seat next to her.
            “Nah, I chope you a place!” she announced. “But you go get your mee pok first! I wait. You look very hungry!”
            That’s the thing about friends: They can practically read your mind.
            “Feel better?” Sharyn asked after watching me inhale a mee pok, two roti prata and a mug of sugar cane.
            “I can’t wait for this stupid job to be over,” I told her, “and I can get back to working from home. I don’t know how you guys do this every day!”
            When I got back to the office in a much better mood, I sat down at my desk and said cheerfully to the person sitting in the next cubicle who’d not said a single word to me in three days, “How was your lunch?”
            Startled, she looked up. Her eyes shifted nervously sideways. “Uhm…I…I haven’t gone yet!”
            I frowned. “But it’s nearly 2pm.”
            Clearly, she sensed that I wasn’t an immediate threat to her personal safety because she thawed slightly and smiled. “Yah, sometimes I’m so busy, I forget to take my lunch!”
            Later, Amanda asked, “Did you ask her where she normally takes her lunch to?”
            “I couldn’t believe it! Who forgets to eat lunch? How could you possibly forget? That’s just like saying you forgot to breathe! On my way home, I kept trying to remember, but I think I can honestly say I’ve never missed a single meal in my entire life!”
            “Me, neither,” Saffy said. “I would die if I ever skipped a meal.” She paused and thought, her chin lifted. “Well, maybe I won’t exactly die. It won’t kill me, I don’t think. I mean, I guess I could lose some weight.”
            Amanda says it amazes her how Saffy always manages to turn any conversation into a dialogue about herself. 

No comments: