A million pins and needles pierced Miss Loi’s tender-smooth skin as soon as she stepped out of her flying craft onto a strange world located at Sector 1º 22′ N 103º 48′ E.
The mild breeze of spring was a distant memory as the harsh sauna-like atmosphere of 1º 22′ N 103º 48′ E’s climate mercilessly ruined her make-up in an instant.
Desperately seeking shelter from the heat, she was reminded on how much slower some things can be here, compared to the previous world centered around Sector 35° 45′ N 139° 22′ E, especially with regards to mass transportation.
Traveling through the surreal high-rise landscape of 1º 22′ N 103º 48′ E, she suddenly felt hungry and so she headed to the nearest bakery to buy some cookies in which this place is famous for.
While at the bakery she was intrigued by a ‘QC machine’ where rows of cookies were constantly being carried via a conveyor belt into it for inspection, while another belt at the opposite end dropped those which passed the inspection out from the machine onto waiting trays.
Those are our premium A-grade cookies.
A staff at the counter pointed out proudly.
Only about half of them came out. What happened to the rest?
Quizzed an ever-observant Miss Loi.
The rejects? To the dustbin via an opening beneath the machine. You wouldn’t want to show customers your rejects would you?
Huh? What a waste!
No choice lah! Boss wants to raise standards, competition is tough with other bakeries these days.
Why don’t you try improving your baking process to prepare better cookies so that more will pass QC?
EH CHAR BOH! YOU THINK I SO FREE LIKE YOU ISIT?
EVERYDAY HAVE TO OPEN SHOP AT 7AM! HAVE TO HANDLE UP TO 40 COOKIES AT A TIME! HAVE TO ATTEND TO CUSTOMERS! HAVE TO ATTEND STUPID STAFF MEETINGS! HAVE TO WRITE REPORT! HAVE TO SUBMIT BAKING PLAN FOR NEXT WEEK!
SOMETIMES HAVE TO ATTEND BAKING WORKSHOPS! SOMETIMES EVEN KENNA ARROWED TO ORGANIZE COMPANY GATHERING!
MANY TIMES THE COOKIES NO TIME TO BAKE PROPERLY I HAVE TO SEND THEM IN – OF COURSE REJECT LAH!
I JOINED THIS SHOP COZ I LOVE TO BAKE COOKIES BUT HR NEVER TELL ME GOT SO MANY OTHER CCA!
He paused to catch his breath.
AFTER JUNE WILL BE WORSE. BOSS EXPECTS ME TO FINISH BAKING ALL THE COOKIES IN THREE MONTHS FOR THE SA2 INSPECTION!
THINK IF REALLY CAN’T COPE I’LL HAVE TO SECRETLY OUTSOURCE THE COOKIE BAKING PROCESS LIKE WHAT AH SENG DID AT THE OTHER BAKERY – EVERYONE SAYS HIS COOKIES VERY TASTY BUT NOT HE BAKE ONE!
I’M VERY TIRED ALREADY – I HAVEN’T HAD A PROPER REST IN A YEAR! I’M NOT LIKE THAT COOKIE MACHINE YOU KNOW?! YOU KNOW?!
EH YOU GOT LISTEN TO ME OR NOT?!!!
Seeing the violence brewing in his eyes (plus that kitchen knife lying within 10 cm of his hand), Miss Loi wisely paid for her bag of premium A-Grade cookies and quickly left the shop.
Moments later, she finally arrived at the familiar surroundings of her own little outsourcing factory – just in time to process a fresh shipment of raw cookies from that lazy Ah Seng.
As she proceeded to prepare the cookies meticulously (up to six at a time), she already knew that each of them came with different ingredients, and so different baking techniques and amount of time are required to bring out the best taste from every single one of them.
It’s great to be home again.
P.S. Please check your Google Earth if you’re still unsure where 1º 22′ N 103º 48′ E is.