Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Confessions of a Lonely Millionairess with a Penchant for Red-Faced Young Boys with Hard Luck Stories

It's the Big M's birthday. I was wondering what to get her when this young boy appeared at my gate sweating. (Does that sound dramatic? It really happened!) He rambled off something in Malay and I listened patiently, wondering how to fend him off politely. After all I was just about to get started on my trip back to Johor Bahru, the lair of my Big M. But he was young and charged up and insistent. Also, he was only 15, working part time after school and sometimes during school to support his deaf mother. His dad, a Singaporean had taken off and was not to be heard off again. I gave him a can of soda and took a minute out of my terribly busy schedule to hear his sales talk. (Am I the humanitarian or what? Didn't I tell you I liked people?)

A lot of exciting things ensued. For instance, I found myself driving him back to his office which was in the boondocks (in other words, Kepong) taking out RM3,000 (no, he didn't hold me up at gunpoint, although I feel a little trampled) and buying a whole load of stuff I neither wanted nor needed.

Except that this was not how it was couched. He gave me a card, I tore it open, and he expected it to say "Terima Kasih" as in thank you for trying. Instead, it said...you stand a chance of winning something today. The humdinger would have been the Toyota Altis.

I could win a car? Hey, I could win a car!

Second prize, was a Perodua, not quite as impressive, but still not bad. I mean, Julie wanted a car. Money for jam. Hahahaha. Of course there were other possibilities - a large fridge, a micro computer oven, a 43-inch screen tv... but I was focussed on the car. Wow. Wouldn't it be cool to have a new car just fall into my lap like that. Certainly didn't expect this when I woke up this morning.

Of course there was a catch. If I won any of the five goods, I had to buy three of their things - a foot massager, a water purification system and a turbo cooker (don't ask). All for a cool RM3,000. Which the young red-faced chap assured me was still a 50 per cent discount on the original price.

I could see myself in that car. It was mine. A cool RM100,000. Money for jam, I say. And I mean even the lesser prizes weren't bad...I wouldn't mind that 43-inch tv. Anything but the...

You got it. I got the micro computer stove. Aaarrrggggghhhhh!

Well, the bright side was that my Mom really needed a new stove. And this was a funky one that used electrical heat (no fire) and you programmed stuff into it. Dunno how Mom will like that as she knows just enough to play Spider Solitaire, but still. And I got to swap the turbo cooker (I never really found out what it was) for a microwave oven.

The dark side is I just got paid and have spent three quarters of the cash on these doodads. I mean to say what?

So Mom is getting the stove and the foot massager. And Dad (whose birthday it was this month too) is getting the microwave oven and the water purification system.

Some days you wake up and think, gee, I'd like to spend all my money on electrical appliances.

8 comments:

goldennib said...

This was very funny.

Can you adopt me? I was born to be idpendantly wealthy, it's just someone forgot to tell my parents.

Jenn said...

OK. You do the papers and I sign on the dotted line.

Btw, just a heads up, um millionairess is kind of a creative exaggeration. I mean, I am a millionairess, if you're talking rupiah...

part-time buddha said...

Ack! Culture barrier...too...high!

I can't believe I'm actually cursing myself for not taking post-colonial lit!

Is RM3000 (which sound to me like a droid in Star Wars) the same as $3,000 American. I don't know what the RM stands fo, so Google isn't helping.

I don't mean to be culturally stupid, but in America we're taught not to pay attention to a country unless we want to exploit their oil or if our government pretends they have weapons of mass destruction.

Jenn said...

RM stands for Ringgit Malaysia. It's how we denote our currency now - $ being only for US dollars.

It takes three point eight ringgit to make up one dollar.

However, considering earning capacity and purchasing power parity, you have to take it dollar for dollar.

And "losing" or "throwing away" RM3,000 after you had just earned RM4,000 is a real big deal.

Dunno if you would have enjoyed post-colonial lit. It seemed to be more about words like "epistemic violence" than anything that meant anything.

I spent an entire essay dumping on Gauguin and another half essay dumping on Somerset Maugham.

Andy said...

Computer controlled stove? Cooooool... *(said in Bart Simpson voice).

Nautilus said...

A qiuck question...of all the goodies you picked up, how come M didn't get any...it was his b'day afterall! :-)

gutterspace said...

:) pretty cool. All i can say is you are not alone. For years i bought a certain kind of bread cuz it promised me loads of prizes to be won everyday (it's another thing that i do not eat bread and i never won anything). But a computer controlled stove sounds funky.

Jenn said...

Andy: Honestly, my mom was baffled by it. She said: Jenny, what is this? Another stove. And was not impressed by my enumeration of all its funky qualities.

Nautilus: Hello. Welcome to my blog. The Big M is my mom. That's what my sisters and I call her.

gutterspace: I am still reeling from that encounter. As for the computer controlled stove, heh, my mom prefers the foot massager. I have just hooked her up to two functions - reflexology and warm acupuncture settings (with a heater belt around her waist) and she is sitting there happily.