The sky remained crystal clear blue when I hopped out from the office where I just had an interview. I walked along the street, heading to my favourite ice-cream shop. It was nice to sit on a comfy small sofa, sipping tea reading “Rosie Dunne” (again!) and waiting for my ice-cream to be served. I looked around, the ice-cream shop didn’t change a single thing in its décor. Still sweet with creamy pink color walls, dim yellow light and warm wooden tables with a cute little flower vase filled with daisies, and cool yet comfy chairs surrounded the area. Up there near the main entrance hung 3 medium-sized portraits of Marylin Monroe. The air-cond was just right, I felt. Told ya, this is my favourite ice-cream shop…
I’ve become the regular customer of this ice-cream shop since I was 14. Until now, the prices of ice-cream didn’t change significantly and it still sustains its claim to be one of the ideal places for lovey-dovey couples to go on a date. I can tell how successful the owner of this ice-cream shop has become since they opened more and more shops in certain places. Yeah, it has become some sort of ice-cream shop chain with the old name “Pinky”. Don’t you just love the name? The shop I went to was the very first “Pinky” and I still prefer it even though the other latter ones are much larger and nicer. Sometimes, it’s just not about the ice-cream but it’s about the feeling that you have with the shop. My preference for its old and original décor is definitely one of the core factors that keep me coming back constantly. And that’s what we called “customer loyalty”.
From time to time, glancing at the high school located opposite to the ice-cream shop, I found out such a familiar scene. Students were cleaning their classrooms. Boys and girls, all neatly in white shirts and dark blue pants, are labouring themselves over the wooden desks, benches, black board, ceiling-fans, window bars and main doors. Remember when I was in high school, every year, the week right before school opening, I had to go to school to meet the new teacher in-charge and other beloved classmates.
After giggling at how weird or alien-look-alike our teacher in-charge is, we would start the cleaning procedures with majorly mopping the floor, dusting the window and wiping desks and benches. With female-dominant class like mine (only 10 gentlemen versus 42 elegant ladies), you would probably guess that all the guys will handle all kinds of so-called “heavy” jobs for us girls. You’re wrong. You’re completely wrong. These gentlemen are as just lady-like as we girls are. Hence, no point arguing who would carry the broom and who would take the water from the washroom. Jobs were equally divided. And sigh… you know how those elegant ladies would react to these cleaning tasks…
“At home, I wouldn’t even touch the broom. Do we really have to do this???”, or
“So what is the point for hiring janitors? I don’t think we’re supposed to do this. Gifted students won’t have to do this.” (*note: Le Hong Phong High school is for the gifted), or
“My hands will be rough if I have to scrub the window bars and this wiping cloth stinks”, or
“Oh nooo… my shirt got a stain on it… It is an expensive one you know ?!?!”
And so on and so forth…
Yeah yeah , whatever!!!
Still, we gifted students had to clean the classroom no matter what. The most unforgettable experience came when we actually reach grade 11 (equivalent to Form 5 in Malaysia) and again, it was the week before our school opening…
Thanks to our juniors who had cleaned the classroom for us, we were assigned to carry out a much more crucial mission which was clearing the school backyard full with wild weeds. Needless to say, a storm of protest bursted out…
“Nooooooo……………”, a whole class screamed.
“Teacher, that isn’t fair. Why do we have to go down there and pluck all the wild weeds?
We are students, we are not gardeners”, a girl voiced out.
“Cleaning the room is janitor’s job, isn’t it?”, our teacher snapped.
“Yeah”, the whole class echoed.
“So, it won’t make a big difference for you guys to do gardeners’ job then”, she coolly replied.
“Nooooooooooo……………………”, a longer scream came out.
“Teacher, do other classes have to do it as well?”, someone was trying to fish for companion.
“No, only our class”
(So that was the longest “No” I’ve ever heard in my life)
Ten minutes after our helpless strike, we carried our monkey-wrinkled faces and lazy bodies down to the backyard and worked out under the marvellous sun. Thank goodness there were a few trees spreading out their shadow. Imagine we all turned lobster-red after all the jobs were done? Hell yeah, all the pretty ladies and even gentlemen would scream for their beauty once again. In spite of the endless wave of complaints, all beauties and beasts (if any) had to complete the seemingly impossible mission under our teacher’s supervision. We let out a big “Yahoooooo……” when we found we’d done with it. All dragged each other to go for a cooling coconut treat outside the school. It’s been 5 years now…
Oh…. Our sweet old days!!! Oh yeah, you can call those days “sweet old days” if labouring under the sun for 2 hours is defined as “sweet”. Right, someone may protest so here I go again…
Oh… Our bitter-sweet old days!!! (Does it sound any better? Bet it does!)
Return to where I was, yeah, ice-cream shop. Sometimes, my mind wandered a bit too far. Taking my eyes off the school, I started eyeing on couples in the shop and found a teenage couple who enjoyed feeding each other ice-cream. How sweet! Puppy love, it is. I can bet the boy is about 16 and the girl is graphly 15 or even younger. And they are such a lovey-dovey couple!!!! Awwww………
How about me? I was completely alone with my book and just-finished plate of ice-cream and now slowly sipping my cleansing tea. Well, now I just don’t care about the lonely feeling even though I had no one to share the ice-cream with. Watching people rushing by through glassy window, knowing that life is going on in each and every second but still enjoyable and adorable, the ice-cream tasted a little bit sweeter, I felt.