While some of us work from home comfortably, many are still struggling – this includes our fellow hawker aunty and uncles.
Netizen Gary Chong took to his Facebook page to share his encounter with an uncle selling chicken rice at a hawker centre and his struggles throughout the Covid-19 outbreak and the Movement Control Order (MCO).
He wrote, “It is day 11 of the Malaysian MCO due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and I have a tale to tell. A tale unfortunately not borne out of fiction but firmly rooted in a sobering reality. As the head of the household, I made my way out for a grocery run.
“While driving, I passed one of my favourite local hawker coffee shops and unexpectedly saw that 3 hawker stalls were open. It was ages since I had a good greasy chicken rice, so I proceeded to order from the chicken rice seller, 3 packets of chicken rice.
“While going about his usual way of preparation, he started lamenting that his daily sales now is only around RM140 but he has to open shop from 7am to 11pm.
“To put it in a nutshell, he has to work 16 hours to just sell chicken rice and survive with RM100 t0 RM180 a day. He continued that if business went on like this for another 2 weeks, he would go out of business.
“His next response shocked me. He begged me to come back and buy dinner from him. In which he then gave me extra meat in my packets, in the hopes that would seal the deal and I would come back at night.”
That’s when Gary realised, the problem was more deeply rooted than just a lack of customers due to the movement restrictions.
“I began a conversation with him and a few things which he pointed out, emphasized his hardships.
- He couldn’t go and register himself on an e-commerce site or platform due to him being illiterate and having near zero technological knowledge.
- He said he considered home deliveries but delivery fees were at a minimum of RM5 so he couldn’t afford it and no customer would be willing to pay a jump of 200% for chicken rice.
- He heard from people about the recent Economic Stimulus Package and although he qualifies for some of the incentives, many hawkers like him are not willing to contact the IRB due to various reasons because of a checkered past (perhaps certain troubled run-ins with the law) and warranted/unwarranted fear towards the government.
- Why did he have to remain open instead of staying home and waiting for this MCO to end? His response was akin to the traditional Malay saying, ‘Kais pagi makan pagi, kais petang makan petang’.
Gary Chong was so nice that he tried to persuade the hawker uncle to let him assist him financially or at least help him with some of the technology woes he had, but he kept deflecting and saying that Gary’s patronage of his business is good enough for him. That answer sent a lot emotions course through Gary.
“When he said that, I felt a wave of emotion sweep over me. One not just of guilt, but of shame because of my ignorance.”
That night, Gary not only returned to the uncle’s shop to get dinner but also left him a very kind surprise.
“At 8pm that night, I came back, bought half a chicken and slipped him an extra big note into his money tray without him noticing to try and appease my guilt but I think that is why I am compelled to write this.”
We’ve all become accustomed to having food and beverage delivery services that we forget that there are a community of people who cannot jump on the trend and require our help. Here’s how you can help them, as according to Gary.
“Perhaps we could practice these steps.
- As a family, pick out your regular hawker stall around your neighbourhood.
- Get your head of the household to swing by and check whether they are open during one of his/her grocery runs.
- If they are open, drop by and buy some breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Give them a little bit of encouragement by having some small talk or conversation with them to brighten up their day.
Your single action today, albeit how small your takeaway order might be, will be able to alter the course of destiny for each of these hawkers who in this period of distress, need us to show our solidarity as Malaysian citizens and practice the evergreen and holy virtue of ‘Loving thy Neighbour’.”
All it takes is for each and everyone of us to buy a meal a day from a hawker stall to assist these hardworking Malaysians.
These Malaysians need our help to keep their livelihoods going instead of keeping up with lavish lifestyles, which is why they require more financial assistance during times like this.
So, let’s put our differences aside, forget personal desires and help those in need. Share this article to spread more awareness.
What do you think about this? Let us know in the comment section.
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