King of the World
Two thousand four hundred square feet of room space, five movers cum packers, two maids, my sister and me... and so far, there were one hundred seventy eight boxes between us all. I had no idea how my sister could’ve accumulated such a vast amount of stuff within the past two years that she was here in Singapore. And now we have to move all her possessions to Hong Kong. I had a pen and notebook in hand where I was listing down all the boxes that have been stowed and I was monitoring packing activities in the kitchen and living room. My sister was minding the activities in the bedrooms.
“Excuse me, miss?” an oldish guy tapped me on the shoulder. He pointed to a box on the floor, “All shoes.”
“Okay,” I smiled appreciatively as I wrote down SHOES on my list. “Thanks for that.”
Usually, the routine was: the packer would build a box, fill it with stuff, seal up the box then label it. And then I would copy down the label onto my list so that I’d have a record of all the boxes that have been packed. This guy, however, skipped the last step. I thought maybe he didn’t have a marker with thim and that he’d do it later on.
He filled up a second box full of shoes. And he still skipped the labelling bit. Then he proceeded to pack a third box of shoes. Still no label. The head packer happened to stop over to ask what were in the boxes. The guy told him what were inside and the head packer bent down to write SHOES in big bold letters on all the boxes... then he walked away to check on the rest of his people. After the guy packed the fourth box filled with shoes, he took out a blue marker from his pocket and wrote down SHOES on the box.
Weird... he did have a marker, so how come he didn’t write it down earlier?
After he finished packing up the shoes, he packed up the rest of the kitchen. He asked one of his colleagues to label a box BASKETS AND LINENS. At this point, I was convinced that he was illiterate or something. But it can’t be... he knows how to write. After all, he wrote the word SHOES, didn’t he?
I only realized what the problem was after he packed the vacuum cleaner. There was a scrap piece of cardboard on the floor with the words VACUUM CLEANER written on it. It was handwritten so I reckon his colleague wrote it out. After he sealed the box, he picked up that cardboard piece and copied what was written on it onto the box.
Then it hit me. The guy couldn’t spell. His command of English was poor to zero; thus, he was having difficulty spelling words out.
Seeing him copy the words onto the box made my heart melt. I always have compassion for helpless people who help themselves. This guy isn’t obviously one of the most learned people I’ve met but he totally doesn’t sorry for himself nor does he let it get in the way of making a living. As a matter of fact, he doesn’t feel ashamed to ask for help from other people. And in truth, he was really good at his job -- he’s very thorough, cautious, efficient and neat with his work.
“Miss, finished this one,” he told me gesturing towards a box right next to him. “What to write?”
“Oh that’s the Christmas tree,” I said. “You can just put XMAS TREE on the box.”
“How to spell?”
“X-M-A-S-T-R-E-E,” I spelled out. He wrote down the letters as i said it out loud.
He beamed. “Thank you.”
He’s very humble, that’s what he is. And it’s very refreshing to see people like this. It’s been a while, honestly, since I’ve last seen a meek soul like his. Lately, it seems like everyone I meet is either very arrogant or more arrogant than that. I wish they’d just put a cork on it.
To be simple is to be humble... and there is some sort of happiness that the less materially and less intellectually gifted understand that the opposite don’t. It’s the simplicity of life. Everyone knows about it but people just refuse to acknowledge it.
Leave it to people to take such a simple thing as life and turn it into complex knots of problems and frustrations.