Secondhand beds

Tonight I had to head over to a friend’s place far down the East Coast Parkway. He left Singapore a few months ago, suddenly, which meant there was a lot of surplus furniture in his apartment that he needed to dispose of. Because he had a swimming pool and we don’t, he’d given me the key to his place so that we could take La Serpiente Negra there and enjoy the water and the air conditioning when Chinatown got too much. Every debt must be repaid, and now I was going back to his place to let in a potential buyer of his spare beds.

I arrived, to find the new tenant had locked the door, so the keycard I had got me into a stuffy antechamber and no further. Eventually the tenant arrived, a strange man with patchy skin and a grumpy demeanour. More of a misdemeanour, if you wanted to make a pun. He let me in, offered me a Diet Coke (at the last moment I realized I was meant to be avoiding caffeine) and then, seemingly embarrassed to have me around, bid me farewell.

Now, the new tenant had already had some kind of contretemps with the man who was buying the furniture. Something about being annoyed that the buyer was coming at 8pm instead of 7:30, when it appeared all the tenant was doing in the enormous flat was drinking beer on his own and doing internet banking. I’d been told to stay and supervise the transaction, even though as a diffident fourth party to the whole operation there wasn’t much for me to do. So I went down to the garage level, waited for the buyer, took him up, showed him the beds, and then left with him.

He had pulled up in a brand new Mercedes. As we left, he asked me if I’d driven down. "No, I got a taxi" I said. Which was his cue to leave without offering me a lift anywhere, because it wasn’t like I’d gone out of my way to do him a favour. Honestly, the whole secondhand bed buying extravaganza seems to have been orchestrated solely for the purpose of me meeting people I won’t get on with.

Now it’s about 9 km from where I was on Upper East Coast Road, back to Chinatown. And the Fitbit was registering less than 40% achievement for the day. So I began to walk home.

Because I can’t bear to waste time, I phoned up Starhub on the way home to change my phone and broadband contract, as that’s the way I relax after a hard day supervising secondhand bed sales. I had a glorious 16 minutes on hold before a man told me I needed to take my sim card out before he could help me, which would have been easy enough if I had two phones and three hands. Then I wanted to talk to somebody about my broadband, but he couldn’t do that, or transfer me, and apparently nobody would answer anyway, because they stop work at 9pm. And it was already 8:30.

Baffled by this lack of initiative and timekeeping prowess, and wondering if it was a warning that I’d be on hold for the next half hour, I called the next Starhub number and had a long and complicated discussion about broadband contracts. And on I walked.

Currently, because we don’t have a contract, we pay about $124 a month for data. If we had a 2 year contract we’d pay $39 a month, but if we cancelled before two years were uo we’d have to pay an unspecified pro-rataed amount, and if we moved we’d have to pay a different amount to transfer the account (because it takes $200 for somebody to update an address in a database in Singapore, I guess) and another $230 if there wasn’t a broadband socket in the place we move to. I should be good at arithmetic, but after all this walking and barbecuing my brain by holding my telephone next to my ear, it took another ten minutes for me to make up my mind and commit to a ludicrously cheap $39 for 100Mbps broadband. At least, I hope that’s ludicrously cheap.

And on I walked.

After an hour, things looked familiar. That, unfortunately, was because I was standing outside my friends’ condo, which was still at least 4km from home. I gave up trying to placate the Fitbit and when a taxi pulled up to disgorge its passengers, I got in. "Where are you going?" he asked, like all Singaporean taxi drivers, apparently unaware that it was his job to drive people where they want to go, rather than locations convenient for him alone. But it turned out Chinatown was acceptable (otherwise I might have mounted a sit-in protest on his back seat) so I was home by 9:30, and as I leapt from the cab my Fitbit shivered to inform me that I’d done my 12,000 steps.

Now my feet are very, very sore, so I’ll read a very little, then go to bed. In a bed I bought new, rather than secondhand, via an unwilling bystander with nothing better to do in the evening.
[Frustrations Of The Modern Lifestyle]

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