Hey there! Yes you. Come on in to my blog. If you found this blog, you were most probably googling: part time jobs singapore. You are probably a tech-savvy student, looking for work. I have done quite a couple of part time jobs in Singapore myself, and I can say that the experience gained during each stint was truly memorable and sometimes even life-changing. Please let this 30 year old uncle tell you some stories before you carry on with your job search.
Now get comfy.
Warning: Long Post Ahead!
What I am about to tell you is a series of short stories, coupled with lessons learnt from each story. Each story came from a part time job I took up during my student years. Part time jobs for students in Singapore are aplenty and I truly encourage every teenager to take up at least a job as a rite of initiation into adulthood.
Okay you ready? Here goes –
Story 1. The Vengeful Waiter
There was this kid in my school that was kinda douchey. He was a power-hungry, minister-worshiping, little prick who loved putting others down while throwing his weight around.
“You know, I was at this restaurant, and I snapped my fingers like this – and the waiter came over immediately. Wow that was a great feeling, man. I felt like a boss. After that I kept doing it…” he once told me another of his exploits in bossing people around.
I tried to picture the scene. A 13 year old fat kid snapping his fingers at an adult. The adult rushes over subserviently and fat kid proceeds to order ice-cream.
Though I felt disgusted, I did not dwell upon it. In fact, just like any other patron at a restaurant, I continued treating waiters and waitresses like servants. I would complain when they pretended not to see me. I would gripe about their slow movements. I frowned when they talk too fast or too softly. I felt like the waiter was just a little servant boy, rushing around to hand out food and fill up drinks and say ‘Thank you please come again’ after you made payment.
Until one day, I became a waiter myself.
I was reluctant to take up that part-time job at first. My friend needed me to cover him for table-waiting duties. He was so desperate to go for his scuba-diving trip that he offered to top up my waiter salary with money from his own pocket. After much persuasion, I finally agreed to stand in for him as a waiter while he was gone.
Waiting tables was tough. When the dinner rush comes, time just flies past with no heed. You will be so busy serving, clearing, taking orders and payments that you would pretend not to see customers raising their hands while you are in the midst of completing a task.
One day, a group of young working ladies came into the restaurant. Dressed like your typical OLs from Sex in the City, they spoke in a pseudo ang-moh accent when I took their orders. When I presented them their drinks, one of them pointed out that I had served her the wrong drink.
“Erm… I BELIEVE I ordered a COKE and not a Sprite?”
She stressed on the word ‘believe’ so articulately that I thought she was taking her O-Level English oral. Her tone displayed her utmost annoyance at me.
“Oh sorry, let me change it for you,” I replied in my most polite manner with a smile.
She scoffed, made a face… and rolled her eyes so that all her friends could see. All her friends just glanced at me nonchalantly like I was just some lowly man-servant, here to serve her Empress Dowager at her bidding.
I felt so humiliated. I changed her drink and she did not even bother to look up. The Sex in the City ladies were busy talking about how busy they were at work and all the important shit they had to do.
“And so I had to sent this email…” BLAH BLAH BLAH. The usual CBD yuppie-office-talk.
When I went back to the kitchen, my simmering anger had turned into a boil. I blame the hot kitchen atmosphere. I suddenly felt I had power over the yuppie ladies.
Oops… I accidentally dropped some dirt into their appetizer. Oops… my sweat dripped into the main course. Oh no, the ‘wipe-anything’ table cloth landed on their fish and chips. Oops, my dirty thumb accidentally dipped into their desert.
I made sure I served them the whole night. And I always treat waiters with the utmost respect after that…
*Lesson Learnt: Treat everyone with respect. Especially chefs and waiters.
Story 2. The Christmas Card Hustle
It was December. Staying at home proved to boring. My friend managed to snag a gig selling Christmas cards. For every pack of cards we sold, we got to keep some proceeds as salary while the bulk of the revenue goes to charity. We decided to go door to door to sell the cards.
We targeted an estate full of bungalows and terrace houses for practical reasons. It would be easier to walk on foot and we thought that the people there were richer and more willing to give to charity. When we reached our venue, we were surprised to meet 2 other friends there, selling Christmas cards too. We chatted with them for a while and they told us their ultimate sales plan.
“We are going to address all the housewives here as M’lady and speak like how people spoke during Shakespearean times. Ancient English style.”
That. Was. The. Stupidest. Idea. I have ever heard….
The conversation ended abruptly as those 2 friends ran off to start knocking on a row of houses. They were stealing our potential customers! Those bastards!
My partner and I went down another lane and started pressing doorbells. We got rejected again and again. My partner blamed my looks. Looking back, I blamed my looks too. I had spiky hair, wore spikey bracelets and probably was wearing some offensive punk-ass t-shirt that I bought from Far East Plaza. My partner, on the other hand, was a handsome guy with neat side-parting hair and he looked like some goody-two-shoes straight out from an Archie comic.
“Ay Jerry cannot la. Your voice so deep. Sounds like you wanna commit a crime like that. I will do the talking.”
So I became the bag mule. I carried the bag around while my friend did all the talking. He smiled generously, engaged in polite banter and charmed the residents. It worked. Sales increased!
We happened to past by our 2 competitors. We checked with them how their sales were. Oh man. They were killing it! Their sales were double of ours. I was flabbergasted. How did they do it?!
I watched them in action and they seriously said shit like this:
“Nice evening M’lady! Could I interest you in some of our wares?” (*use a faux British Accent for maximum effect)
The lady hands over her money and they even bowed graciously to accept the cash. What the shit. Seriously.
Meanwhile, my partner was on a roll. He smiled, he flirted, and charmed everyone. There were 2 particular sales that I would never forget.
In one sale, a paranoid-looking woman asked, “Did all my neighbours buy the Christmas cards?”
We said yes. (Half-truth). And she handed the money over begrudgingly.
* Lesson learnt: Leads Convert into Sales more easily with Social Proof.
In the 2nd memorable sale, a lady was about to shut the door in our faces when my partner recognised her.
“Hey! Aren’t you Ms Chan from XXX secondary school?”
The lady immediately changed her tone, smiled, and invited us into our house. She bought a number of Christmas cards and even offered us snacks. What a sudden change in manners! Later on, my partner admitted that the teacher doesn’t teach his class at all. He just knew her name.
*Lesson learnt: Push hard for the sale! You gotta hustle!
At the end of the night, we met up with our competitors. They sold twice as many Christmas Cards as us. Guess their cheesy method worked after all.
Or maybe they sounded so retarded that people thought the money was going to help them…
*Lesson learnt: Get creative when selling to make yourself stand out!
Story 3. Retail Encounters
During another school holiday, I decided to work in a fashion retail branch to help out during the Great Singapore Sale. The GSS days past by in a blur. All I could remember was that I was just rushing around and stacking clothes and passing out clothes to customers. When the GSS was over, the shop was back to normal. That’s when these 2 interesting incidents happened.
It was a slow day at the shop. This lady walked in, dressed like a beggar, and she had a big bald patch on her head. She was almost 70 years old. This fashion brand I was working for was a mid-tier brand with clothes ranging from $30-$500. The full-time sales assistants get a commission for every sale they closed. Since their pay probably wasn’t that high to begin with, every sale mattered. I, on the other hand, was just a part-time staff, so I got no commissions.
I was surprised that all the full-time assistants avoided the lady even though they had nothing to do. They walked away and pretended to be busy, smoothing out creases on shirts or refolding clothes again. They were probably disgusted by the old lady’s appearance.
Feeling some pity for her, I stepped forward and asked if she needed help. She gave a weak smile and said she was looking to buy jeans for her daughter. She explained that she lived in Indonesia and was here in Singapore for a holiday. She even wrote down her daughter’s waist size and pants length.
I brought her to the jeans section and recommended jeans for her.
She just nodded and said, “I will take this. And this. And this…”
Her husband appeared, an old man, also dressed like a beggar, and suggested they bought jeans for their sons too. I was so busy throwing out jeans at them that I lost count of how many they wanted to buy. The jeans piled up and soon it seemed like they were buying for the whole village!
They spent a few thousand dollars on jeans and other clothing. It was easily the biggest purchase made by a customer in that year. How ironic- the poorest-looking customers I have ever seen ended up spending the most money!
When I proudly brought their stack of purchases to the counter, a senior sales assistant hinted…
“Sooo… do you want to put this sale under anybody’s name?”
I thought for a while. None of them deserved it. They had all walked away when the old lady needed help. These superficial full-time staff who judge people on their image…they don’t deserve this commission.
“Nope,” I replied and smiled with no regrets.
* Lesson Learnt: Never judge a book by it’s cover. Be humble and serve everyone without discrimination.
Working in a fashion retail shop, you have different shifts where you are in-charge of different locations around the shop. Being in charge of the changing room can be either extremely boring, because you are hidden at the back of the shop, or it can provide you some cheap thrills.
The Gf is probably gonna kill me for writing this post. But I am gonna be honest about it anyway. I was single when this happened so… For your sake, dear reader, I will sleep on the couch for many nights!
During changing room duty, we often encounter the lonely female shopper who wants to try out a dress, but alas, she needs someone to help zip it up for her from the back. The straight guys in the shop, ( I have to stress straight guys because there are just so few straight guys in this industry), would always enjoy this opportunity to help a lady out. In fact, to keep ourselves entertained during work, we would assign a scoring system whenever a hot babe walks into the shop.
A hot babe walks in. Straight guy at the counter will catch my eye and raise his fingers up showing a 7. I would either shake my head in disagreement or signal back another number or simply nod and give a thumbs-up sign to signify approval of the score. If another straight guy sees the girl, he would look to us to catch our eyes and the whole process repeats itself again.
If the rare 10/10 kind of hot babe walks in, it is the sole responsibility of the first straight guy who see her to inform every other straight guy in the shop. Yes, even the poor guy sorting out merchandise in the dark storeroom must be informed of the rare gem that has just walked into the shop.
On that day, a 10/10 walked into the shop. She was a mixed-blood with long wavy hair and a body that could appear on magazine covers. The straight guys were abuzz with hand signals. I was manning the changing room. After ushering her into the cubicle for her to try her clothes, I looked out and communicated with the other straight guys using hand signals.
We were like a swat team preparing for a mission. Mission: Zip Up Dress for Chio Bu.
My mind started wandering… it would be so awesome if she opened the cubicle door and…
The door was opened. She was standing there half-dressed. Her arm was across her chest, covering her lady bits strategically.
I kept my poker face.
“Erm… could you get me the matching top for this bra?”
I responded in such a professional way that I surprised myself. Again, with a poker face, I said as a matter-of-factly…
“Sorry. Can I see what bra you are wearing?”
(Oh c’mon, her arm was blocking it!)
She dropped her arm and stood proudly before me, revealing her full glory. I must say… she had a really good…….. poker face too.
“Right,” I replied. “I will go get it.”
*Lesson Learnt: Sometimes if you want something, you have to ask for it.
Hope you enjoyed these stories of some of my part time jobs in Singapore! I could go on telling more stories but … I will save them for next time.
And in case you were wondering, 10/10 opened the door a second time to take the dress without covering up. And then a third time so that I could complete Mission Zip Up Dress for Chio Bu.
Cheap thrill. I know. Don’t judge leh…