Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Special Delivery

To the hilarity of my workmates, I took delivery of a large cardboard box full of packets of shredded wheat today. It is expensive to eat well in Singapore, and it turns out that shredded wheat is three to four times more costly in Singapore than if you buy it in the US, so we ended up ordering a vast amount of it for me to bring back from Seattle.

It's not just shredded wheat, mind. There are some teabags in the box too, and a container of washing up liquid. All things that it should make no economic sense to fly across the Pacific Ocean in my baggage, yet by the greed of a few shopkeepers in Singapore is made so.

Although I was terribly excited to open the box and look inside, I wasn't so overjoyed to carry it back to the hotel. It's only a mile or so to walk there, but it's bitterly cold this evening, I forgot my gloves and failed to put my hat on before I walked out onto the street. When you're manhandling several kilos of breakfast cereal, you don't have the opportunity to set it down and adjust your headgear situation. So I walked home as quickly as I could, my right arm complaining at all the work I was putting it through, and my ears threatening to fall off the sides of my head.

The trouble is, I'm dressed all in black, and carrying a cardboard box I suppose I resembled some sort of delivery man. That's my explanation for the aggrieved look I was given by another hotel guest as I returned this evening. The guy on the door recognised me and opened the first door for me, but the hotel guest skulking inside gave me a withering look of contempt, the sort that perhaps he reserved for anyone who makes their living delivering cardboard boxes. It's like the US equivalent of reverse-gweilo power.

I thought of stopping and telling him that no, I'm a high-powered executive in a leading e-commerce company and spend my days driving a database, not a diesel truck, but I was a bit out of breath and needed to have a sit down. I walked down the hallway to the lift. Another woman, stretched out in repose on a comfortable armchair, looked at me with a mixture of horror and disgust. What were the delivery men doing, coming in the front of the hotel when they should be skulking at the tradesmen's entrance?

Well, it's a nice hotel but it's not Downton Abbey, and if anyone's going to look askance at the hired help not being servile, it should be an Englishman, not a Yank. I was thinking of going back to remonstrate with her ("look in the box! what sort of person do you think gets paid to deliver shredded wheat to a hotel?") but life is too short, and the cheery receptionist called out hello to me, so it would have looked bad to go back and start a bit of argy bargy. I hopped in the lift and went up to my room, to quiver.

I deserve to quiver. I went for a run this morning at 6am, having woken up at 4am and been unable to go back to sleep (and I only got to bed just before midnight). If that wasn't enough, it was still so dark that when I got to the Mercer Slough, instead of being able to run through the woods, I was greeted with such impenetrable blackness that I had to turn round and go straight back - hardly the sign of a great athlete. Tomorrow, another day.


Post a Comment