Monday, January 28, 2008

Respect the Chope

The other day I was enjoying my regular noodle bowl at a busy food court. I was slurping away, marveling at how wonderful it was to get noodles, ikan bilis (dried anchovies), green vegetables, ground pork, chilis, mushrooms, dried onion, slices of fish, and an egg to boot for $3.50 Sing.

Unfortunately, my reverie was interrupted by strident shouting. I (along with everyone else in the food court) turned to see one Singaporean woman squawking at another, who was an elderly “auntie.” No one else dared to intervene as the younger woman yammered away - everyone was too embarrassed.

“You are so inconsiderate!” the younger woman was shouting.

A few people near me clucked and shook their heads; the younger woman was clearly losing face, as the older woman unsuccessfully tried to deflect the tirade. But it soon became apparent that the younger had choped (reserved) a seat in the traditional, time-honored way - by leaving her stack of tissues on the table. The older woman had committed the almost unheard-of infraction of moving the other's tissues and shopping bags to make room for herself. Now, some of the clucks were directed toward the auntie.

Lesson learned: it doesn't matter if it’s a forlorn umbrella or simply a dilapidated pack of Kleenex on that empty table. You must respect the chope!

“You are rude! How can so rude . . . do you not know, lah?! You cannot see, izzit? Table choped ’ready!”

I decided to slurp the rest of my soup and quickly head back to work.


jio said...

Really, I find this utterly weird thing about reserving tables here in Singapore. What if even a single sheet of tissue paper from a garbage can (urk) or another table flew to another empty table, then automatically that empty table is marked reserved (??).

Well, that one I was kidding there. But, being foreigners ourselves here in SG, we rather have somebody in our group do the reservation and looking after of our table.

IMO, there is no need to reprimand the old woman because of this...

Anonymous said...

even as a Singaporean, I find this behavior far-fetched, and certainly the older woman was not the one being rude.

Diana Saw said...

We should just remove the items and plonk ourselves on the seats. It's selfish behaviour that should not be tolerated. And it's not only Singaporeans.

From my blog

"I really hate people like this, people who “book” seats by leaving their personal items on them. In Singapore, you’ll find idiots everywhere in the foodcourts, staking their claim on tables or chairs by leaving a packet of tissue paper, or umbrella, or whatever they can think of. It’s very selfish behaviour and so far, I have only observed Asians doing this. While we were hesitating, a Spanish woman told us, “Just take it, they cannot do like that.”

True enough, the seats “belonged” to a couple from Hong Kong, who came to reclaim them after a while."