transparency is the key

December 7, 2005

Dear Diary,

So that day after leaving camp for my medical appointment, I decide to have lunch at this strange coffeeshoppy place behind my house, which sells economical rice. As you know, economical rice, or as the Hokkien side (a bit like my Sudanese side, but Chinese) of me would like to call it, chye png, is the perfect food like ever for ditherers like myself who can’t decide if they want something rice-y or something meat-y or something vegetable-y. Cos like, economical rice is all three! And stuff. And yeah, it’s supposed to be economical so it’s easy on my post salty-tequila binge.

Well, turns out that this economical rice stall does serve like the best spicy fish and the best sweet-sour pork like ever in the history of economical rice, and economical rice has a long history. So I decide to go for a two-veg-one-meat combination, with the meat being the sweet-sour pork. Which rocks. But that’s not the point. So after footing my bill, which is two-fifty (and very reasonable) I decide that the piece of pork they give me is far too small, so I tell the auntie to add one more fish. And she’s like, ok, and she does. And I’m like, how much is it? And she’s like, ok that’s a buck. So I pass her my dollar coin, upon which she arrests herself and consults with the senior aunty at the stall, whom I assume to be some economical-rice-guru, or the head chef at this stall.

Suddenly she goes, sorry, that’s one-fifty. And I’m like, WTF! One-freakin’-fifty for a piece of bloody fish! I nearly flip her the finger and tell her to keep her economical fucking rice. But being the nice person that I am, and stuff like that, I smile politely and cough up another fifty cents. Well technically I take back the dollar coin and give her a two dollar note and she returns me a fifty cent coin, so now I have TWO FUCKING COINS so what the fuck.

But that’s not the bloody point, even though I FUCKING HATE CARRYING BLOODY COINS. The point is, WTF! What the hell are these economical rice stalls doing? Fucking hell, when I eat economical rice, I WANT TO KNOW WHAT I’M PAYING FOR. No sir, none of that indecipherable one-meat-two-veg two-meat-one-veg two-meat-two-veg three-meat-no-veg kind of combination for me, I WANT TO KNOW EXACTLY WHAT EVERYTHING ON MY PLATE COSTS.

So I paid two-fifty for my original meal, which was exactly this: one sweet-sour pork, one egg, one stirfried chinese cabbage and of course rice. And working it out in my mind, I find myself unable to come to any conclusion about how the costing works. Like working around the meat base of one-fifty (like my fish), that should leave the egg+cabbage+rice combi costing one buck. So is the egg fifty cents, and the cabbage fifty cents, and the rice free? WTF! And WHAT THE HELL IS EGG? IS IT MEAT OR IS IT VEG? Ok, so it’s produced from an animal, like meat. But it has no motion of its own, like veg. So when I order one-meat-two-veg, does egg count as a veg? What about tofu? That’s not a veg, is it? It’s packed full of protein, like meat. But it’s made from plants, like veg. And why the fuck is the rice free? Or does it cost thirty cents? Or do these things have no cost in their own but you have to buy them as a x-meat-x-veg combination, where x is a positive integer?

WTF IS UP WITH THESE ECONOMICAL RICE SELLERS!? Are they trying to confuse us to death?

So yes, this is my point: I WANT MORE BLOODY TRANSPARENCY IN ECONOMICAL RICE STALLS. (Even their Malay counterparts, the nasi padang stalls.) Before I start calling the damn auditors in. Before I phone the police. Before the economy collapses due to OPAQUE ECONOMICAL RICE STALL PRACTICES. That’s it, I’m blowing the whistle! Heard me? WHY IS THE GOVERNMENT NOT DOING ANYTHING ABOUT THIS SERIOUS ISSUE?!

Oh. They were too busy executing drug traffickers.

Signing off,

A very unhappy economical rice eater who likes his sweet-sour pork and spicy fish ECONOMICAL


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