Common People

A new grocery store is opening in my neighbourhood and from the looks of it, I know I’m going to love it. Its exterior is like a western organic store and I think I’m looking forward to less driving to Tesco for fish and AEON for chicken. And I hope they keep up with their appearances, no flies et cetera.

I hadn’t been writing anything at all these days. One project I’ve abandoned because I just don’t feel like writing it anymore. I don’t see enough message in it, or my message (in me) through that story is not strong enough, …and I had forgotten what the story was about anyway. Ah, now I remember. It was about revenge, but never mind.

So I thought to myself: maybe I should get a job at that grocery store! Many years ago I wanted to try to be a public cleaner but that didn’t work out, maybe this would be great! I thought of me going for a job interview, being one with no paper qualification, but play a girl who speaks no English and has never gone anywhere but here. I would be occasionally mopping the floors and weighing taugeh and if they trust me maybe I’ll be a cashier.

Yes! I was excited over this thought and I wanted to make it happen. I contacted the HQ of the grocery store and asked whom I should contact for job openings. They responded with a number. BRACE YO’SELF FOR A KAMPUNG GIRL EXPERIENCE, FIFI!

Except that it didn’t happen. It couldn’t happen. I have a bank appointment at Kuala Lumpur soon, then I have Miss Fifi job in KL too, and sometime later I have to go to Jakarta again. End of this month there’s a professional trainer’s course I might attend, and I might have trials to my programme too. So I can’t lead a double life that way. I left it at that, because my life had been aligned that way. I still hoped to someday have an opportunity to weigh taugeh and mop floors too.

Then someone said “I dedicate Common People by Pulp to you. But I gtg.”

I replied, “If you dedicate it to me at least send me a link!”

“Look it up, please.”

So fine, I did.

And ouch, did the lyrics hit me.

she had a thirst for knowledge

And in thirty seconds time
She said,

“I want to live like common people.
I want to do whatever common people do,
I want to sleep with common people
I want to sleep with common people like you.”

I took her to a supermarket
I don’t know why but I had to start it
So it started there.

Are you sure you want to live like common people?
You want to see whatever common people see

But she didn’t understand,
She just smiled and held my hand.

Rent a flat above a shop,
Cut your hair and get a job.
Smoke some fags and play some pool,
Pretend you never went to school.

But still you’ll never get it right
‘Cause when you’re laid in bed at night
Watching ‘roaches climb the wall
If you called your dad he could stop it all.

I am a ‘common people’. I just have never worked at a grocery store.

Yes, I understand now that people who have to work in grocery stores might find their jobs unsatisfying and they wish their lives were better. It might come off as rude and insulting of me to take the job as merely an ‘experience’ or ‘for fun’ because these people really need their jobs. He told me that was the message he wanted to send me, but told me not to dwell on it.

But of course I would dwell on it. Am I really that shallow? I would love to experience what they do on the daily so that I can appreciate. I’m a writer, a nobody observing, I might be able to write about it and share it with the world. After reading what they go through, a common ground of love could be found.

But then again, maybe I don’t need to experience those to love and appreciate these strangers anyway.

Love is in me.

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