Thank you for the kind words friends. I decided to summarise my answers to most questions for ease of reading.
A bit more about me: I am in my mid thirties and have been living a very sheltered and privileged life all my life. Studying in Melbourne was not exactly rough but casual racism was(still is I think) pretty common and that was the extent of any struggles I faced.
My family runs a big logistics company and we have a few warehouses/logistic centres around the island. I was an MD and mainly dealt with our partners in South East Asia. Yes I am very aware of nepotism and how fortunate I am to be in this position and I do not mean to patronise the ‘every day folks’ or validate myself – I simply wanted to break out of my bubble to really think about myself as a person.
How have I grown and what did I learn from this experience? Prior to this, my interaction with my staff has been limited to middle management and basing off their judgement and reports. I never once critically thought about what is truly the most important resource of any business. The truth is, nothing is above the people. Manpower is the single most important factor and a multi-faceted view is essential. It is during my stint I realise the issues that the employees face many issues and have valuable inputs that are not heard.
Middle management pushes for deadlines to be met but they seem to forget the people on the ground have their concerns too. Meeting deadlines end up in an overall lowered effeciency as a company can be much better if the employees are looked after and treated with importance – their welfare and feedback. I am moving towards providing the employees on the ground with much better benefits such as catered food(most have to rush through their food breaks due to distance/high cost of food nearby) and revamp the dining area in the canteen to have a more conducive and enjoyable environment for the staff to dine leisurely.
Other issues faced by the staff include more time off for family matters(ground staff are penalised heavily for taking time off – loss of income/incentives if they wish to stay home). I am looking to implement a better system where staff do not need to choose between sacrificing time for family matters and incentives.
Moreover, a proper feedback system is necessary. The middle management does not know what is the optimal solution on the ground and only the people there understand this. There is too much red tape where time and effort is wasted – people feel good about themselves when equipped with authority to solve problems. Middle management will also be retrained to adopt this mentality of valuing the feedback of the ground staff.
> How did I get so many jobs in such a short period? What about training?
I left after two weeks at most as I wanted to have the most varied experience possible. This was mentioned to the hirer/supervisor prior and it was accepted. I did bar hand for a long period of time though, albeit once or twice a week. I exclusively scoured for freelance/non-commital roles. Training is basically an hour to half a day at most – pretty self-explanatory. These are casual jobs with no commitments. I too was taken aback in the beginning but it seems there is an industry where casual labourers are sought after as a replacement or just to fill in the gaps.
> Which bars did I work at and favourite/least favourite drinks?
I prefer not to name them but I worked at two popular bars at Keong Saik Road and Tanjong Pagar Road.
Pre COVID, I would visit similar establishments occasionally with my friends and I did not give much thoughts to what happens behind. Loads of arses visit these places; the need to be seen as an alpha/ultra cool guy is pretty heavy here.
Favourite drinks to mix/assist: Gin & Tonic and Old Fashioned for it’s simplicity when it gets busy. When I have the luxury of time – learning how to make bespoke Mai Tais and unique dessert based cocktails.
Dislike making Pina Coladas/Mojitos during peak hours and really dislike making any kind of martinis when a douche tries to pull off a Bond move in front of his date – it happens more often than you think.
> How do I know if the older men are married?
I am copying an answer someone else posted but my experience is more or less the same. “Can answer for him since I moonlighted as a car valet jockey before in the past.
Wedding ring on finger. These guys don’t even bother concealing that fact when they are messing about with other women.
A lot of these women are picked up with the guys from KTV lounges. Very obvious that they work there, very obvious they are doing “takeaway” on the side for cash. You do get the rare times when you pick up a car with the guy and girl in question from some upscale place like Marquee or MBS or as normal as HaiDiLao at 4am from Marina Square in their Rolls Royce, or when the girl is local; then it becomes more of a question of “is she a sugar baby or is she legit?”.”
> Are your parents going to agree with this? Did you even consult with any of your employees to see whether they would prefer catered food? you’re basically telling them what they can eat. Many people have limits on what they can eat because they have allergies or religious or personal preferences. If you’re worried about the cost of food you can increase their salaries by how much you’re going to pay for the catered food anyway. So you think *not* meeting deadlines will somehow result in increased efficiency? How many watches and accessories do you have, and how much did they cost?
My parents(my father actually) is receptive to the changes but my siblings are showing some resistance. I am currently working on a strategy to turn my ideas into fruition.
This is just a rough idea – actual work will include talking and taking feedback from the ground staff to get a proper rotating menu that would feasibly satisfy all(or most) of their needs.
Meeting deadlines with rushed/slipshod quality is not effective in my opinion. By being aware of actual problems and keeping the staff motivated would lead to long-term problem solving(higher efficiency) at the cost of short-term effeciency of missing deadlines for shipments.
I did not think too much into this previously but I have been spending close to $40000 a month on meals/clothes/accessories/frivolous expenses for the past eight years or so.
Ultimately, the main take away from this experience is the value of money and dignity. I used to spend thousands of dollars a week on pretentious food at pretentious restaurants without even considering once about the staff. I am unable to stomach paying $500 for lunch now – thinking about how many days it would take for the server to work to afford a meal he or she is serving. Opulence…disgusts me. That kind of unnecessary spending can be used to much better use. Funding the studies of children of employees, animal shelters, and starting up social enterprises to reach out to the folks who truly need help. One of the best meals I have ever had in my life is eating a packet of economic rice in the back of the delivery lorry together with my colleagues while the driver was rushing down the PIE to reach the next destination in time. The camaraderie formed with my colleagues was so strong that I cannot think of a better dining experience.
Society is only as strong as it’s weakest link – I cannot imagine living so large while people are out there struggling to put food on the table for their families. Worrying about the future for the children, can they afford to pay for a new textbook or excursion that their children might ask.
I have met many folks in my employment – many are ex-convicts who are struggling to find a job. Some are less hardworking(only want to work two to three days a week) but many more are decent folks who just want to have an honest life with an honest living without fear and worries.
I will be realigning my company’s direction of looking after our employees – ALL our employees. Not just a token gesture but actual decisions that will be of use. A motivated workforce is unbeatable and I would like to make use of my privilege to aid society.
On to the more niche questions: I scoured the internet and found the most effective manner to find casual and immediate jobs was on FaceBook groups. There a multitude groups out there with plenty of opportunities daily. On average, they pay about $10-15/hour depending on the nature of the job. I was working 10 hours a day on average and sometimes more if I wanted to take on an extra job at night bartending. There is no CPF contribution so it is quite normal to make about $500 a week working 6 days a week. Whatever I found interesting I joined and just picked up – metalworks was simply using a power saw to cut metal pipes and salvaging valuable parts inside. Fishmongering training was simply learning to identify, cut, descale the different types of fish. The manual labour nature of the jobs was tough initially but I look after myself physically all my life so it did not take me long to adapt to the laboriousness.
One thing I really hope everyone can do is just to extend our graciousness and kindness to any service staff. It takes nothing to smile to a flyer distributor or being extra patient with your waiter. The question on if one should take a similar path as me – it is very subjective and I cannot answer this. All I can say is to wake up tomorrow and think of how you can make it a better place to live in for your fellow men. Putting a smile on others face is priceless, you will find unimaginable joy.