Despite my lack of attention to dress most days of my life, I do like to look nice when I go out to meet someone important (so if you’ve never seen me dres nicely it means you’re not important) or when the fancy grabs me that the past few days have been filled with dreary t-shirts and berms.
This, of course, requires me to actually be possessed of decent-looking apparel with which to clothe myself in, which only appear rarely in my wardrobe due to a very poor eye for what would actually look good on me. The few friends whom I trust enough to go shopping with will attest to my poor taste and I thank them for always having the courage to tell me that the brown-shit-patterned-hawaiian-shirt-type clothes are unsuitable for anyone but Darth Vader, and only because he can Force Crush people who say otherwise.
So one evening as I rushed the dinner table for the daily scraps, I noticed a notice of a carpark sale sitting there on the table. Cheap franchise-clothing, of brands that target people my age group and income range (meaning nothing) were being hawked at one Wing Tai industrial building’s carpark promising rebates of up to 70% off!!! Now, I am anything but a sensible shopper, and I have an unreasonable love of the bargain bin, so you must understand that an entire carpark full of bargain bins sounded simply irresistible. Visions of clothes, heaped like bonfire-fuel on the ground and people screaming and biting each other over the size S’s made me dizzy with delight, and I resolved to pay this event a visit.
So Saturday morning came, I awoke early, had a nourishing breakfast that I imagined would be important in the day to come, and began my journey to said carpark sale. It is a well-known fact that if an event takes place in the morning in Singapore and it is anticipated that there will be a large crowd, Singaporeans will queue up all night in front of the venue’s gates to ensure their entry (the exception being Heaven, most Singaporeans don’t seem to be particularly anxious to book their ticket-to-Nirvana). Not wanting to seem too completely Singaporean, I planned to make an entrance an hour after the gates opened, when the queueus had hopefully dissipated and the wrath and frustration of the morning-queue aunties had diminished.
I was greeted with a queue in front of the industrial park that winded into the neighbouring housing estate.
In my real life, I hate to queue, and will readily abandon anything that requires me to wait for it. However, today was different – I had set my mind to my task and the Alex that usually ate-the-disgusting-Science-canteen-pasta-because-no-one-else queued-there was gone. Every so often people would walk out of the gates, smiling brightly and happily and poring over their purchases as if they were newly-born infants, that strengthened my resolve to make the most of the morning and get myself some babies.
I queued for about a half hour before I was let into the carpark. Strangely, there is a certain kinship you feel after standing in line with other people for so long. Or perhaps it was merely because I was so bored I kept listening in on their conversations – the couple in front wanted to take lessons in ballroom dancing, the couple behind seemed to be having problems – the guy was being too oppressive and the girlfriend didn’t like it. I wondered if the Soviet Union’s food queues were anything like this, and decided that if it were merely cheese and flour I was queueing for I, and many of the others, would have resorted to grass instead. It was unproductive just standing there and shuffling forward, but I was ashamed to bring out my Schopenhauer to read – it burned simply being at the bottom of my bag.
Once I was let in I proceeded with the mission – to loot through as many bins as possible in the least amount of time and to loose all inhibitions and manners I had painstakingly been brought up with and to shove and push others with an abandon I seldom employed even in competitive sports. My expectations were somewhat foiled by the lack of mens’ apparel and the lack of men to loot through those – most of the men there were only there to carry things for their ladies. The ladies’ clothes bins were packed, and tensions high there, but my killing fields were much more relaxed, the action spilling over only when various spouses pulled their hapless men over to be fitted. Those women I would have slapped quite readily, if not for said hapless men, who tended to be rather muscular and fit-looking, which probably happens if you constantly have to carry big heavy loads for your spouses.
As in all events in which many people are packed together and partake of intense physical activity, someone fainted. A woman, rather dramatically, exited from the main arena, paused for a moment with her hand to her head and tottered about unsteadily for a while before swooning (in a manner that Faizal would have approved of and imitated for months after). This prompted a kindly woman nearby to help her to a sitting position, whilst another ran for medical attention, which shows that not all Singaporeans are heartless shoppers and that some can be nice, helpful people.
I apologize for the thumb blocking half the image of said fainting lady (she’s somewhat obscured behind the woman in red, who was helping her) – I was trying to take the picture as surreptitiously as possible, which meant I was trying to look as if I were frantically SMSing someone. That said, this only goes to show that not all Singaporeans are nice, helpful people and that some can be heartless sensationalist photo-hungry blog-creeps.
Having satisfied my cravings for things-that-look-good-on-me and things-that-look-good-on-my-blog, I decided to pay up and head home. The queue for payment was at least as long as the queue I had been in to get into the place. And much less fun to be in, as it was an enclosed space and people were by this time hot and sweaty and beginning to regret their picks. There was much screeching and looting through the plastic bags we had been given to store our loads in, as tiny blemishes were found, condemning their bearer to the “Please place unwanted goods here” bins or frantic women with no breasts decided they needed more bras and got their boyfriends to Stay as they ran off to get more. Rumblings of unrest echoed though the queue, as cheapskate-shopper chafed cheapskate-shopper, and only the thought that we were in the last leg of the marathon kept the order.
It took me another half-hour to pay. The woman at the counter expressed surprise that no woman was with me and that I trusted my own taste. Quite fed up with the members of her gender at that point, I gave her a wan smile and grunted humourously at her joke. She was not dressed in the type of clothes which she was selling, which led me to believe I was paying money to remove stuff from her warehouse for her.
I ended up buying a couple of tees that looked, as usual, rather less happy on me than they had looked in the bargain bin. Also managed to obtain an incredibly cheap blazer, which I will likely never use considering the country I live in.
Ah well. And that was my little Singaporean adventure, inasmuch as we Singaporeans have adventure, I guess.