That School Holidays in 2002

I finally managed to get a copy of How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill on my iPad! I tried the free way but turned up with zilch and iBooks is crazy not to open their stores to malaysians while I’m here clutching my credit card, desperate to read the book that I read a little bit of in a tiny MPH bookstore back in uni about three years ago.

Thanks to an awesome app called Kobo, i managed to get my hands on a copy of the ebook. Seriously, if you have exhausted ‘all ways’ to get an eBook, give Kobo a try! (while I’m at it, an awesome android app I have on my samsung galaxy is Magic Hour!! It is prettier than Instagram and with more filters for your pictures than you can imagine! And super fast too with adorable graphics!)

So..anyway..I’m at the part where Michael is waiting in agony for a callback from the Starbucks store manager after his interview.

It reminded me of my agony filled afternoons at the end of the 2002 school year when almost the entire bunch of form four students at my school, SMK Subang Utama, went out in full force to apply for part time jobs at Sunway Pyramid.

While studying for our form four finals, most of us already had a list as to where we were interested in working at for the school holidays. I knew I would die of boredom if I worked at a clothes store..so my list had things like shampoo girl at a cut above, pet store assistant, swensens waitress, baskin robbin ice cream girl, tgv ticket girl, Nail Artz manicurist (the job I eventually got), Starbucks or coffee bean Batista…but it had to be somewhere swanky with all my friends, like at a mall so we could all be together!

An office job was too boring but those paid the most, in the eyes of a rm30 per week pocket money collecting high school kid. But nah, still too boring.

Those days the average wage per hour was RM4 and if you were lucky, you’d get a RM5.50 per hour job! I was underpaid because I was below the legal age to work, was only 15 at that time slogging away for RM3.50…or was it RM3? I remember I couldn’t even bring myself to have McDonalds for lunch because that was a luxury in itself. (it still is a pricey snack now!)

I remember applying to all those places that I wanted and only a handful called back because places like Coffee Bean and Starbucks sent their Baristas for training and most of us could only afford to work with them for 6-7 weeks!

In the end, I was called for an interview with Kimberley (the now defunct accessories store on the highest floor) and Nail Artz, which is also long gone.

I accepted the job at Nail Artz because of my so called passion in nail arts. I was told that I had to do plenty of manual labour like scrubbing customers’ feet, pouring the water from the pedicure machine into a big tub, and wheeling that big tub of water filled with dead skin and grime to the toilet the next morning, sweep, mop, polish the glass cabinets, take out each nail polish bottle and wiping it down, bringing tea to the customers and on top of it all, greeting customers.

My dad was at first horrified about the prospect of me having to mop and sweep (he didn’t know about the scrubbing feet part) when I didn’t even have to do any of that in my own home. (mind you, come uni and working life, I have been sweeping and mopping my own floors, thank you very much!) but in the end I got my way and went on to earn a huge fortune of RM900 for my entire stint at Nail Artz. One of the first things I did with the money was to modify my phone lighting..haha. Instead of the conventional greenish yellow led lights in a Nokia 3310, I had purple and white lights installed! So cool man.

But the joy of being accepted to work was such an awesome feeling! I felt so adult!

By the middle of November most of us had secured our part time jobs.

Amanda worked at Miss Selfridge and I would be able to see her sweeping the floor at the entrance of the store from my booth at the floor above. We’d wave excitedly at each other whenever we could!

Nigel and Yijin were both working at a Nike store, having a good time buying cheaper branded sport shoes.

Chee Kiang was also working at Vikings, a hot dog stand at the entrance of Sunway Pyramid and I could almost see him if I strained my neck hard enough over my counter top. He got very good at frying sausages and layaning old uncles’ sausage jokes.

E Guy had a stable job at Sushi King with Kay Hong.

Thinking back about Kay Hong’s work experience during that time cracks me up. He would steal away from his job at Focus Point, the optical store, and then continue part of his shift at Sushi King, lol. On top of that, whenever he could, he’d work at Holiday Villa as a banquet waiter. He threw the towel down at Sushi King one day after getting into a spat with a superior. It was hilarious. And literally. towel. throw. floor. Hahaha!!

But those were good times, when we dabbled at jobs, jobs our parents slogged hard to put us through university for so we would never have to do.

Loved the thrill of getting a fun part time job, with some pocket money and being in a shopping mall everyday!  It’s very different from getting a job after graduation because with that job you are expected to progress in your career, pay taxes and ..well, take it seriously.

Okay, I’ll continue reading the ebook now. Hope my post wasn’t too nonsensical.