My life changing experience as a casual labourer
I would like to share my eye opening experiences for the last six months working as a casual worker and the state of how said group of labourers are perceived.
Background info: I come from a privileged background and work for my family business for the last ten years or so after graduation. I haven’t been exposed to much hardship with the exception of National Service and a bit of discrimination in my studies abroad. About 9 months ago, I had a major tiff with my family regarding the direction of our business and we decided that it would be better for me to take time off to collect myself and find my way. It was fun at first to bum around but it got boring quickly.
I read quite a bit and was awed by Einstein’s experience as a patent clerk giving him new perspectives and decided to do something similar. I decided to take on any form of casual jobs for half a year with little to no commitment (so I can have the largest possible variety) – my shortest stint was one day and my longest was two weeks.
I gave myself a couple of rules to follow – no using of my car, limiting my spending to 20% of my daily wage, and not to quit no matter bad or tough the job was.
I found these jobs on FaceBook – a cornucopia of opportunities in various casual job groups.
I have worked as a food delivery rider, parcel delivery staff, pet transporter, mover, flyer distributor, general cleaner, IT crew, fishmonger, metalwork crew, AV crew, F&B staff, bar hand, food packer, warehouse operator, aeroplane cleaner, valet driver, durian opener, and a few more jobs.
It has been an eye opening experience working. The main things I noticed is that a good percentage of locals adopt an elitist mentality. Unfortunately, my family is guilty of this and to some extent, I too was. Most are very judgemental of blue collared workers and this is very prevalent in the F&B industry.
Toughest job: Metalwork crew. I had to cut metal objects to salvage profitable parts and it was extremely dangerous with sparks flying and a very dirty environment.
Most enjoyable job: Fishmonger. This was by far one of the most fun I had working as I learned to scale and cut different types of fish. It was also very interesting to work at the fisheries to see all sorts of fish(small ones to huge ones almost half a tonne).
Most interesting job: Valet driver, I witnessed plenty of older married men needing to be sent home/hotels with much younger women. Some of the dross these men say/do with their women in the car have definitely left a mark on me.
Most boring job: Warehouse operator, pretty mundane with too much repetition.
My experience as a bar hand watching guys trying to impress their dates is quite hilarious – I notice guys love to flaunt their wealth when it isn’t really great in the grand scheme of things. They tend to treat the bar hands and service staff like crap to look more alpha I’m guessing? Terrible viewing.
Other ‘interesting’ experience include deliverying parcels to women who receive them not wearing underwefar and being pretty nonchalant about it.
Distributing flyers/assisting and moving furniture from showflats to showflats for realtors was a jaded affair – I notice they tend to spew a lot of drivel to the prospective clients with little to no real knowledge about investments as a whole and only seem to care about making a quick buck. Males tend to be nicer to us, offering to buy food if we had worked the whole day without breaks. Females tend to be a bit more picky about not wasting flyers on seemingly unqualified prospects – very judgemental.
Working as an IT crew for tuition centres was pretty sad – I realised a lot of tutors are not really proficient and pretty much reading off their notes. I even noticed a few making mistakes in their lessons – quite alarming.
Cleaning flats and offices was.. peculiar. Some flats were really disgusting and I could not believe people are capable of being so gross and not able to pick up after themselves. Especially tenants moving out, woah. Some flat owners were really nice with isotonic drinks and snacks but the office ones were generally curt and snobbish. A typical HR who was in charge of us(usually middle age woman) would treat us as lesser beings and treat us as such.
Generally, people are quite condescending about lower waged workers and I even saw a few former JC mates brushing me off or being unnecessarily difficult in my experience in F&B. Thankfully, with the mandatory mask, I was never once recognised or questioned. I hope we will be a bit more gracious to people of all sorts of life – no one deserves to be belittled.
Transporting pets was truly amazing, I learned so much how the shelters are in need of help and how these animals truly need our help.
Overall, I made about $12000(close to $10/hour) in these six months and after my daily food and transportation expenses I had about $9000. I have donated this amount to the few shelters and will continue to do so.
I have learned so much for these six months that will echo for the rest of my life and have realigned my perspectives of how I should look at people and my family’s firm.
A good two weeks break to decompress and time to get back to bringing our business forward and being a positive member of society.
AMA and I will do my best to reply in a follow-up post.
Always choose to be kind and gracious, it costs nothing.