Gambar di atas adalah gambar hiasan. Taraf kefunctionannya adalah sama seperti taraf kefunctionan topic function Maths dalam kehidupan seorang guru Bahasa Inggeris.
9.00 a.m. My phone rang. It woke me up from deep slumber. The first thing I saw in the morning is Aiman’s large mountain of flesh lying next to me (nothing homosexual here), snoring like Snolax. Not a pleasant sight. And the number that calls me is not pleasant number either; no names, only numbers. Very impersonal. I answered it, in a voice similar to a man with a hangover.
“Shafiq ke ni?”
My Islamic name. I answered yez.
It turns out to be Puan Maria from the Zoo Negara, the Head Ticketing Officer. She wanted me to come to the zoo, 10 miles away, ASAP, because she needs an extra hand.
“I’m on my way.”
I woke Aiman up, took my bath and get dressed. I forced him to do the same for I need a taxi driver to take me all the way to the zoo.
It was 9. The zoo opens daily at 830. Why hadn’t they called earlier? It was Sunday, and sure enough, by the time I came, the crowd is thicker than the crowd of underaged teenage girls in a Justin Bieber concert.
It was a blessing to have Aiman sleepover at my house. The night before he had some business to attend to in KL and he needed a place to crash in for the night. I offered mine. He took it. And that’s how he came to sleep beside me, like a bunch of dudes after a night fueled by alcohol and girls and drugs and anything that provides news materials (and rezeki) to the staffs of Harian Metro.
Aiman, Good Guy Aiman, drove me all the way to the zoo and dropped me at the entrance. I felt like some kind of paratrooper air-dropped into an intense warzone. A novice, for I never feel the heat of the battle. From far away, I can see the throngs of people lining at the ticket counter. It’s a bloody battle out there. They need reinforcements. Here I come.
Less than a week ago, Anas, Daus and I walked into the zoo expecting to be interviewed, or at least fill in a form.
Anas sez that the zoo’s offering part-time jobs where we could earn RM30 daily. Sounds good for Anas and Me. We’re so desperate for money that I felt, if somebody offers us a good sum, we would be contract killers. I’m not so sure about Daus, though, who lives on a bungalow on a hill in a neighborhood that seems to Beverly Hill’s Malaysian cousin. But somehow I conned him to join us anyway. He tagged along for the interview.
But there wasn’t any interview. Nor any forms. Pn Maria, the one in charge, just gave us 3 pieces of paper (‘the forms’) and told us to fill in several details. We’re full, she sez, and you’re lucky, we’ll call one of you.
We walked to Daus’ house. I wondered aloud that we came this far, wearing shoes and collared shirts, (and for my case, learning Zoo Negara’s history) just to be told that we’re going to be picked by blood lottery? Daus patted me in the back. Grinning. Of course, if anything, he’s going to get it. The Zoo to Daus is like Fu Tong Tong to KMS. If Pn.Maria had any sense, she’ll call him first.
Anas hollered, all the way to Selayang, of how poor he is and how desperate he need the job. He began to get fatalistic on our chances of working with the Zoo. Actually I began to feel sorry for him, as his mother is suffering from a cancer. He didn’t want to depend on his family anymore for cash supply.
Yet, his cash reserve is depleting, causing him to stop lomoing for a while. Same with me amigo, same with me…
Now it was packed. I lost my way finding the entrance. After being roughly briefed by Pn. Maria of what I am going to do, I lost my way finding the exit.
I finally reached ground zero. This is where all the action is. My job? Approach a customer, asks him/her of how many adults, children, senior citizens, anyone born in ’61, and Abang/Akak nak masuk Taman Rama-rama tak? After taking the orders, I am to give him/her/undetermined the slip containing the numbers, and tell him/her/undetermined to present all of their MyKads at the ticketing counter. Simple job. Not rocket science. Not even English Literature.
Yet, I’m slow during my first hour of working, earning the wrath of my Sarawakian colleague named Rachel aka Y. I kept forgetting asking several questions. But I never made any mistake on my figures. So, all in all, not a single customer under me complained that he/she/unknown got the wrong number of tickets. Yeah, I maybe slow, but I never did any major screw up.
Just after one hour I finally captured the rhythm of the job. I moved fast. Pushed by adrenaline, I began attacking more visitors than my veteran colleagues (who are all school-children, been working in the zoo for years, and have their Mums behind the counter…). I began to love my job because it’s so simple. And people are responsive to you. They won’t ignore you like you’re some damned Broadband sales promoter, or some retarded child asking money for their Foundation of Mental Retards. They’re going to the zoo. They know that they’ve got to respond to me if they want to get in. They’ve got to give their figures right or else there’ll be trouble if they want to enter. I felt like I’m holding some kind of power over them. Pass me, I seemed to say, or else!
In general, there are several types of customers.
The Malay families are generally fat, well-to-do, comes from faraway and always come in large numbers (The Malays is a fertile race…). But they’re the easiest to handle. There’s no language barriers. It’s easy to strike up conversation with them. They’re friendly, and responsive as hell. Difficulty level: Recruit.
The Chinese, meanwhile, seems to me the kind that speaks broken Malay (and cannot speak English at all), not the type of urban and urbane Chinese that normally find in Bangsar or the Curve. More like the ones from Kepong, Selayang, or a forsaken place like Sekinchan. But they’re okay. You just have to explain longer on why the ticket with Taman Rama-Rama has higher prices than those with no Taman Rama-Rama. That’s all. Difficulty level: Regular.
The Indians are divided into two. Those who looked educated and those who don’t. For the former, talk English with them and everything will be fine. For the latter, it’ll be harder for they looked at you like you’re some kind of Malay bigot who’s somehow, in some subtle manner, trying to discriminate them. They talked rough, as if that if we’re asking them to show their MyKads indicates that we’re still not convinced that they’re Malaysians. Can’t blame them 100% though, for who knows how many kelings they’ve got to hear before they come here.
Difficulty level? Veteran.
The Arabs. They’re either very polite or suffered from disease that makes them allergic to good manners. For those who are kurang ajar, they talked rough:
“I don’t understand.” one of them sez with a murderous look towards you. "Why?"
“I don’t understand.Why?"
“Blabla..foreigner RM30…local RM20…blablabla..farasha RM35…blabla..no Farasha, Haiwana only RM30.”
“I don’t understand. Why?"
They seemed to be mad at you for not speaking their language. As if they expected, upon arrival in Malaysia, to come to an Arab satellite state where everyone speaks Arab like they speak English. They also seemed to be angry that they’re charged higher than locals, sometime demanding explanation when they can’t even understand our explanation in English.
In the end, for most of them, I just counted the number of adults/children/old people they have in one group, and gave them the slip. No need to speak anything to them. But how I wished I hadn’t skip my Arab lessons in my sekolah agama time sekolah rendah (for the ustazah was one hell of a bore, and Arab periods during Sekolah Agama always means Pendidikan Jasmani period sebab selalu main Sofball kat belakang sekolah).
Difficulty level: Hardcore..No..Asians…No…Arabs.
(But they are very nice Arabs though. Even if they don’t speak well, they keep saying thank you for every word you say. Makes your feel that there’s hope yet for humanity..)
The Negroes, for me, is not that hard. They’re U students mostly, and they’re fluent in English. Speak English, and not be intimidated by their size…and (I’m going to hell for this) color, everything will be smooth sailing.
When it’s time to close, memang best halau orang. We’ll approach them, then ask them if they really.. REALLY…want to go inside, since it’s 4 o’clock, and you won’t have much time left, not worth the money, blablabla…Most of the time, they’ll turn away, their kids screaming (Diam, abang ni kata zoo nak tutup!!/Shhh…Nanti abang ni marah!! -_-“).
But there’s one sad part, when there’s an old Granny coming to the zoo at 430. I told her that the zoo’s closing but she still insisted on coming in, saying that she already promised her ‘Susan’ to go to the zoo. She kept searching her handbag for Susan’s voucher, not giving up. She finally relented when she saw that the counters are closed.
“I’ll never know when I can bring Susan here again.” said the Granny with a heavy voice.
She walked away slowly. Hearing her saying that gave me the image of a dying Granny, (or a dying grandchild with cancer, or both) has promised each other to spend their last day on earth to visit the zoo. Thoughts like this can make you choke up and break the hearts even those with hearts made of granite.
By now, you faithful readers, (or the unfaithful readers, if you skip to the last part) will feel that this blog entry is tl;dr.
Well I can’t help it. I’m a fast writer but a bad editor. There’s tons of stuff left in my memories that I want to write about that didn’t make it into my keypad.
Writing is like running. You write fast and brilliantly at first because you still possessed the energy, but nearing the end, you tend to get lazy and began to take short cuts or slow down to allow your lungs to catch your breath.
In fact, aku rasa macam dah pancit sekarang. So baik berenti.
P/S: Sebenarnya semua orang dapat kerja. Cuma hari kita nanti berlainan. Tak akan dapat buat clique KMS. Tapi, syukur Alhamdulillah semua dapat rezeki.