Saturday, April 12, 2014

Wiping Down the Table

At 3 pm, Zion Road Hawker Centre was empty and quiet. No crowds. Just a few occupied tables of happy people eating a late lunch. A light breeze stirred through and it was rather pleasant lingering over a meal.

A family sat at the next table. The parents, two girls and a young boy in the stroller. They ordered braised duck rice and all from that famous stall. The father looked after the young boy. The mother ate quickly. The two girls fed themselves fine. Then the adults swopped roles. Once the mother and girls were done, they took the boy and went to queue up again at the braised duck stall, probably to tapau, leaving the father to eat his meal quietly.  

The father finished his food. The mother and children were still in the queue. He continued to sit at the table. Then he began stacking the plates. I watched him intently. He poured in leftover food into one bowl, tried to drain the gravy from the big plate. Then he collected all the chopsticks and spoons to stack them together in a neat pile. He wasn't done. He took whatever used tissue paper left and wiped the table. Like, really, wiped it down. As he placed all used tissue paper into the pile, his family was ready with the packets of food. The family left.

The cleaners came by and one smiled widely. He said in Hokkien (and I made a rough translation), "Wah, some people are really considerate. Hard to find nowadays." I agree! I was completely fascinated by the whole process. I don't know what the father was thinking, but it certainly didn't seem like something he's done for the first time. Dunno. Had three seconds to snap a photo before the cleaners cleared the pile. Here's the ridiculously tidy mound. 

4 comments:

Michelle said...

My husband does that too :) He has OCD.

Wee-Chong said...

I do that too! It wasn't anything special but more of an upbringing thingy to be considerate.

It's not all the time but more recently, I'm more compelled as I see more older Singaporeans workings as cleaners. It feels like the right thing to do.

D said...

when my dad could still go out and about last time, he did that too whenever he ate at coffee shops. sorry to say i didn't pick up this habit from him.

imp said...

michelle: that's a good sort of tidying up!

wee-chong: it's definitely a very nice thing to see, and to do.

D: awww. he's very sweet. i only do this if i'm returning the whole tray to a central point. otherwise i simply leave everything on the bowl/plate on the tray.