This was how I spent the last day of October 2005. The night before, I was asked to replace Dinesh for a one day job that pays fifty bucks. The holidays started, I had nothing to do so what the heck, I just went. The job was to count the number of balls in a truck for a recent Maxis guess the number of balls contest.
It says 'count' but I used 'guess' because it was impossible to know for sure until we unloaded the truck to count them. That was exactly what we were paid to do, to determine the answer before verifying the winner. So Suenanica, Shafeeq, Harindar, Roshan, Woon and myself drove ourselves to some really rundown place in Kepong.
We seemingly had to be there by 9:30am but surprise, surprise. We were the first ones there and the place was not even open.
Soon enough, some other people came. They were there for the same job as us; they were all Chinese. We didn't wait long before the doors open. It was a large space with a white corner with rounded edges, it was actually some studio. There was no equipment, only stacks and stacks of boxes containing miniature soccer balls. Then, the actual truck arrived.
Before the counting commenced, the truck was unloaded. They built a wooden makeshift container just for this purpose. The backdoor opened and out the balls flowed. They were mostly miniature balls of two sizes: 6.3cm and 4.0cm. The rest were a couple of dozen actual sized footballs and a few dozen smaller footballs about 12cm in diameter.
We were then divided into groups of four, each had their own boxes buckets and each were assigned one supervisor to bring the balls to and fro from the container and to keep track of the number. Woon, Harindar, Sue and Shafeeq was one group; Roshan and I had to team up with two Chinese-speaking Chinese people.
Free to count the way we choose, my group had an excellent system. One would count the big (6.3cm) balls to fill a box which amounted to 160, one would count the small ones (4.0mm) to fill 600 in a box, the supervisor will bring in fresh buckets of balls and the last one would separate the balls according to size for the first two to count. So thats four people, three buckets and at least two boxes. When either of the box is full, the supervisor will dump the counted balls into a separate container.
That system was not formulated in an instant; it was gradually and wordlessly falling into place. Part of it came from Roshan who counted the big balls and had the return trip to consistently contain 160 balls, no more no less. I don't know about Woon's group, but my group was certainly busier than them. Laughs.
The persons in charge actually promised that food would be provided. But it arrived pretty late, much to Woon's disappointment. We did not eat anything until 3pm, a personal record for my own standards. If only Sue would finish at least half of her own fried rice+fried chicken. It was yummy by the way.
As we continued counting, I realized how jobless we were. The job had taken its toll on my back, and eventually, my Monday. After we were done, we had to open new boxes of 4mm balls and remove each one of them from their individual plastic bags. That was so not in our job description! Shafeeq even took a nap in the container of uncounted balls.
But it wasn't all that bad, the persons in charge let us rest evey few thousand balls. They let us play with the footballs, and we even got to go inside the half-filled truck! It was awesome, swimming in a sea of soft squishy balls. They did not mind at all, in fact they are smiley people. The other labourers, the Chinese youths, was not as eager as us happening Bangsar folk. They were content talking among themselves.
We left the place even though there were more balls to unwrap. Sue gave the excuse that we had to attend to some church meeting. Roshan, church, right. We were still getting paid anyway, but it will only come next week. After that, we crashed Oliver's place which was nearby. You should have seen the look on his face when he saw Roshan sitting in my car which was parked RIGHT IN FRONT of his gate.
At the end of the day, we learned one thing: Roshan sucks at Dance Dance Revolution.
Another piece of Justin Wong's mind at 11/01/2005 09:59:00 PM