Discipline & Hard Work

After his O levels, my secondborn son Hadi started working as a cashier at Sheng Siong Supermarket. I remember asking my late mum to follow me and give Hadi a surprise visit at the supermarket he was working at, it was near Kallang MRT, near Geylang Bahru. I told my mum we could buy groceries as well as give Hadi our moral support for being an independent boy. We also bumped into my late Mum’s Uncle(see pictures). My late Mum had not met her paternal Uncle for years.

I am always proud of Hadi. You imagine a 16 yr old boy, going 17, who is not ashamed to work at a supermarket, a job people would usually associate with aunties or retirees, even though we knew he was going to JC after his O levels. It was not that he needed the money to work, we have enough at home, we are not millionaires, that is true, but… I always tell all my children the value of hard work is a form of discipline that will hold you in good stead when you grow up to become an adult. When you know the value of hard work, you understand the meaning of responsibility. That is character building that no bank vaults and all its cash in the world can teach you.

I see so many young people who job hop or worse, who refuse to work in any jobs, because they feel that they deserve easy, cushy, $3000/month jobs just because they are Singaporeans. The kind of privileged mentality is unhealthy and must not prevail. It must not be our social fabric.

My parents raised me as a go-getter. In Sec 2, I worked as an MOE checker as part of my school job experience. It was fun. I received my first pay cheque and bought my first pair of track shoes. It was a pair of black and blue Reebok track shoes.

After my O levels, I worked at a restaurant in Geylang Serai, at Lestari Seafood Restaurant at Galaxy, I remember my boss was Mdm Salina and her husband, Abang Faisal, a muallaf(convert). They were a very lovely couple and very good bosses. I learnt many things while I was working there. In that same restaurant, I worked with a boy who also went to the same JC as I did, but he went on to go to polytechnic after that. I stayed on in the same JC after the first 3 months. Yes, I worked at the restaurant even after our O level results were released and posting has been confirmed. Even as a JC student, I worked part-time as a server in a Muslim seafood restaurant. I feel happy for I know it was an honest job, and that I could use the money to pay for books and as pocket money for college.

With my income, my parents could focus on my brother(he was in Sec School) and my sister(she was in Primary School). I was tired but happy because I was able to contribute to my family income. My dad was the sole breadwinner in our family of 5 and we were also caring for my ill paternal grandmother.

We struggled, yes we did, but we love and care for each other. I would like to believe I worked hard like my dad!(of course not! He work the hardest for his children!) My father is my inspiration till today.

After my GCE ‘A’ level exams, I worked at a local bank in Shenton way, 001, working for the current account department. I was handling customer enquiries every day. There, I bumped into my NPCC mate who was working in the same bank, she was working upstairs with the VPs of the bank. A wrong turn to the wrong door to eat lunch at Lau Pa Sat saw me reuniting with my secondary pal once again.

When A level results were released, it was good enough and I found that NUS accepted me. Thanks to the Government Public Service Commission(PSC), my university fees at NUS and NTU were paid for and my parents were thankful for that.

In NUS, during uni vacations, I worked as a cashier at Mobil(Thomson Road) day shift and Shell(Coronation Dr) night shift. I learnt that time is something that Allah has given me for me to work hard, to help my family. It was not time to hang around to do nothing. I was not going to say that the world owed me a living. At that time, I did not even know that a thing called ‘tuition’ exist, because I grew up without having ‘it’. I was happy to go to university and work part-time whenever I could, whenever time permitted me. No job was low or demeaning for me.

When I was the cashier at Shell Coronation Drive, I had customers scolding me when Uncle Pump Attendant put in the wrong type of fuel, or when Uncle Pump Attendant, hard of hearing, pumped the “wrong amount” of petrol. I even had a lady who told her Nanyang Primary daughter in Mandarin, ” You see, you must study hard. If you never study hard, you will work at Shell as cashier like this Malay girl”. She thought I did not understand Mandarin. She did not know that I went to a PAP Kindergarten and I learnt Mandarin. I kept quiet and continued smiling. I was not hurt. I knew who I was, who I am and who I will be. I punched the petrol amount into the POS machine, and the lady gave me her credit card. One by one, the machine declined all her credit cards. There was no payment. I gave the lady her credit cards back and said the payment could not go through, does she have cash? She asked to see my manager and told my manager that she would need to go home and bring the cash from home to pay for her petrol. My manager took down her car licence plate number and agreed to her proposal. Before she left, I whispered to her daughter, in Mandarin, “Study hard, girl,” before giving the girl a big smile and my cute wink.

If life gives you lemon, order black pepper lamb chop. Give the lemon a good squeeze and enjoy your lamb chop.

Have a blessed Wednesday!

Anna Yayah-Khatiwada, Founder & Owner, MYEC Tuition Centre.

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