Saturday, June 12, 2004

From the Home Office in Singapore Comes Tonight’s Top 10 List

Top 10 Things that Have Happened to David on his First Week in Singapore

Number 10: David finally discovers where his mail box is located
Yes, it’s true ladies & gentlemen; I went an entire week of searching for this elusive mail box. I searched all over the apartment grounds and facilities. I even asked the security guards, who told me it was located in my building’s lobby. I turned the lobby upside down and could not find it. Then today my co-worker came over and when I told him of my dilemma as we were getting on the elevator to go up to my apartment he said, “I see here on the elevator that you have a basement. Have you tried there?” He hit the “B” button. In a quick second the doors of the elevator parted like when the Dynamic Duo slipped out of the Bat Cave and there stood the Holy Grail of my search: The Mail Box. Its official…I’m an idiot!

Number 9: Received personal attention at the ATM
The banks in Singapore are highly streamlined and efficient. You can do an array of things at the ATM or online. You almost never need to talk to a teller, unless you are a stupid Expat like me who couldn’t figure out how to execute a money transfer into another account. Using an ATM to transfer money from your bank to another person’s account, even if they have their account established at another bank, is quite common. I walked into the bank and asked a friendly counterperson how I could go about making the transfer. She told me that it was easy (this is when I should have worried) and that I could use the ATM. She told me step-by-step how to do it. Well, I messed it up and mis-read one of the prompts and it didn’t work for me. To my amazement, the lady came outside of the bank and personally walked through with me the process at the ATM. She was friendly and nice about it and I left having transferred my money, but not having transferred my dignity.

Number 8: Was offered and then refused a ride home from the office
This was not as bad as it sounds. My co-worker Steve just moved from his home country of Korea to Singapore about two months ago. We are on the same team over here and had dinner together after work this week. He is a great guy and has helped me a lot at the office. During dinner we realized that we both live in the same relative area of Singapore (East Coast). I told him what street I lived on and a puzzled look came over his face. As we were leaving the restaurant, Steve, being the consummate friendly guy that he is, asked if he could give me a lift back to my apartment. Then, almost as soon as those words had left his lips, he told me that actually he only knew how to drive from the office directly back to his own apartment. It was kind of funny. The poor guy had only had his car for about a week and the only roads he knew were the ones that got him to and from his apartment to work, and then back. It was no problem at all. I just took a cab, but I told Steve that he better open up the next folded page in his map so he can expand his boundaries, at least past where I live.

Number 7: Finally rented my house back in Oregon
Part of the stress of this move to Singapore was the 7 weeks of hard work that was put into fixing up my house back in Oregon in preparation for renting it out (new paint in all three bedrooms, pressure washing the house, exterior paint, cleaning the gutters, new carpet in the master bedroom, new curtains, new window glass, furnace cleaning and maintenance, trimming the overgrown hedge and trees, weeding the entire property, and not to mention packing up all my stuff for Singapore and storing the rest that would not be making the trip). The fact was that after putting in a full day at work, the only time I had to dedicate to the house was in the evenings and weekends. This constituted in me working 7 days a week for 7 straight weeks. You can all see why I am a little tired and punchy, and how a few days vacation would have been very much appreciated before launching into my first day in Singapore, but I digress. I will soon have new renters, who are a nice couple from Southern California who needed a rental home in the Portland area for just over a year while the construction of their new home on the Oregon Coast is completed. They saw my ad on the Internet and responded right away. He works for IBM, so my quest to find a professional couple to rent the house has hopefully ended with a success.

Number 6: Didn’t have to fly to China
Yes, I know going to China is a great opportunity, and especially since I have never been there. The fact of the matter is that certain people in my organization wanted me to go after only being on the ground in Singapore for three days. I didn’t even shake the cobwebs of jet lag out of my head in the first three days. What made matters worse is that not one person on the team (US-based) that wanted me to go to China so bad had any idea of where it was that I was supposed to go! It is actually quite typical. When the States hear that there is a new resource going to Asia, then you suddenly become their best friend to carry out “value-added” relationship engagements. This was a customer event in which my company was participating. Unfortunately, the program manager back in the States overlooked jotting down the actual name of the city in China where the event was being held. After several emails to numerous parties regarding the simple logistics, someone finally responded and told me the name. I can’t even begin to pronounce it, and because I needed a visa to get into China it was already too late to book travel. I knew this town was in the boonies when even the Chinese guys in the office didn’t know where it was. Maybe it was better that I didn’t go after all. There will be plenty of other opportunities to visit China.

Number 5: Turned a condiment into the main course
Choosey Moms (and pathetic Expats) Choose JIF. Yes, after an extremely long day, an upper-body workout at the gym, and an even longer cab ride to get back home, I reached my apartment totally beat and exhausted. Unfortunately, I also arrived with hunger pangs, but it was late, dark, and I didn’t know the phone number for anyone that delivered. The only edible item that was in my shipment of goods was a jar of peanut butter. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I took out a knife and ate about 5 helpings of the stuff. I figured it was high in protein (I ignored that it is also high in fat) and that it would help to sustain me. I am still alive writing this post, so it did its job. Don’t worry folks...I went to the store today and actually bought groceries.

Number 4: Properly obeyed all ridiculous street signs
Singapore is very neat, clean, and orderly. They also have signs for everything to help remind people the right way to act/or not act (be courteous, don’t litter), drive (slow down, don’t pass) and fly a kite. Yes, you read that right. I actually saw a sign today that instructed people how, in this case, not to fly a kite. I laughed out loud when I saw it. I wondered how many lashes you get with a cane for this offense.

Number 3: Receiving email from friends and getting feedback on the Blog
Many friends are reading the Blog and are sending me emails to catch up, or are telling me that they like the new look of the site. It is great to have email from friends, especially being so far away. You can email me by clicking on the “Email Your Comments” section located under the Links header on the top right hand side of this page, or you can click on my profile and find my email contact info that way. I also want to encourage people to use the “comments” area that is located at the bottom of each post. If you like a certain post, have feedback, or just want to put some words down, go ahead and click on the comments link. A few of you have done this already and I think it makes it a little more interactive than just reading my own conjugations of nouns and verbs all the time.

Number 2: Received my first caning in Singapore
On Saturday, my company had a quarterly family event at Sentosa Island. It was held right on a beach lagoon, with white sand beaches, and shading palm trees. There were activities for the kids like face painting, bungee swings, and even a dunk tank. There were things for the big kids too like Survivor type challenge games, and my favorite, the massage chair. Yes there were three people there that would sit you down in a specially designed chair where you place your head down on a specific rest and then they would proceed by giving you a 5-minute shoulder and back massage. It was all free too! Towards the end of my massage session, I was feeling the stress melt away. Then suddenly I felt a slight smacking of a stick around my hip area. The stick was a collection of reeds, but I was pretty sure it was a cane, being in Singapore and all. Apparently they use this stick to stimulate the blood flow at the end of the massage session. When it was over, I got up out of the chair and thanked the lady for giving me my first ever caning. I think I had it a lot easier that Michael Fey.

And…The Number One thing that happened to David on his first week in Singapore…
I officially became a Wireless Squatter
When I fired up my laptop my first night at my apartment, I noticed that my radio was picking up a wireless signal. In the States this happens frequently, but usually these networks are protected by personal firewalls. Just for fun I tried to connect to the Internet by using this network my laptop had discovered and to my chagrin I was online cruising at broadband speeds totally undeterred. Apparently one of my neighbors has a wireless network established and the signals are going right through the walls and into my unit delivering with them sweet broadband access, and all for FREE. I must say that I was totally geeking out over this discovery. Free broadband access is pure gold. I don’t even feel guilty. I promise that I will only use the wireless signals that come into my apartment. I figure possession (of the signals) is nine-tenths ownership!


At 8:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats on renting the house. Nicole and I just read your top-10 list. We've always been more partial to Skippy - and with crushed peanuts, crunchy peanut butter is much better than creamy (Nicole disagrees).

At 1:36 AM, Blogger David Fosberg said...

Actually JW, it was Skippy that sustained me that desparate night. I just figured that JIF had the better tag line to help describe my plight. I agree with Nicole...Creamy is better than Chunky.


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