Saturday, October 22, 2011

Obedient Wives

The Straits Times has had at least two articles about the Obedient Wives Club in recent weeks. This is a group of Muslim women in Malaysia and a few other Muslim countries which is apparently making inroads in Singapore as well, though local Muslim leaders have distanced themselves from the group. These obedient wives believe that a Muslim woman has a duty to please her husband in bed to keep him from seeking adventure elsewhere. They have stirred up controversy, with some Believers upset because they deem the subject matter unsuitable for public discussion, and other Believers upset because it objectifies women and suggests that wives are somehow responsible for the infidelity of their husbands.

As a non-Believer, I find it troubling for an altogether different reason. The OWC has released a book entitled “Islamic Sex: Fighting Against Jews to Return Islamic Sex to the World.” I don’t understand why the words “Fighting Against Jews” appear in the title. Are they suggesting that Jews have something to do with the absence of Islamic sex? How is “Fighting Against Jews” relevant to the subject?

In a country that emphasizes religious harmony and forbids comments that can incite religious tension I find it curious that these words have been published at least twice without explanation. I hope some reporter at the Straits Times can report what the title of the book means.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Help needed - desperately

I was at the Slop ‘n’ Save stupidmarket at the West Mall today (Monday afternoon) and picked up half a dozen items. The queues were super long, as in nearly to the back of the store. I was glad I’d be in the ‘express’ lane. Or so I thought. There are actually three registers at the express lane, but only one of them was open. The line snaked down an aisle quite a distance, about 15 customers long and getting longer. You would have thought they were giving food away for free! Or you might assume that their stuff was really excellent. It isn’t. In fact, this place is pretty much near the bottom of the local supermarket hierarchy, along with its sister store the super-gigantic-mega-hypermarket.

The cashier’s name was May. Not ‘Mae’, who says “Don’t wait!” on the TV commercial, but ‘May’ as in “you’re going to wait a hell of a long time to pay for those things.” May was doing her best and I don’t blame her one bit. But I couldn’t believe a manager would allow such a state, so I asked May if the store even had a manager. After all, some orchestras don’t even have a conductor and manage to play just fine, so I thought maybe the store was trying to save costs by not having anyone in charge. May got on the speaker and called for the manager. Twice. Then a third time. I didn’t want to delay the other customers, so I went to those doors with the ‘authorized personnel only’ signs and opened them, calling for the manager. A young lady came out and told me the manager was in a meeting and wasn’t available.

I sure hope that meeting was in fact a mass hiring interview. I don’t go to that store all the time (or I would have killed myself by now), but I’ve been there several times when all of the queues have been intolerably long, so I know it’s not a rare occurrence. On a few occasions I abandoned my basket and left rather than wait in line.

That manager should not have been in a meeting at that time. If he cannot manage to have adequate staff on hand he should have been at the register next to May helping her (and his customers) out. What is his job, to have meetings? Or to provide a quality shopping experience for his customers?

They have some kind of loyalty card called the “Passion” card. May asked me whether I had the Passion card, as they all do, and I told her I had no passion whatsoever for that place. And while they always ask, no one has ever asked me whether I want one or explained how to get one or what it would do for me. I guess even the employees have no passion about that store.

Just what are we supposed to be saving at Slop ‘n’ Save? Surely not time. Could we be saving money? No, it’s not the cheapest shop in town, and if you value your time even a little bit you are losing big there.

I mentioned that this ugly wretch of a store had an equally horrid sister. The funny thing is, they have a third sister who is like the Cinderella of local supermarkets. They should try to learn a few tricks from her.