By Yan Aung
Did you know that our chicken rice stall uncle’s full name is Wong Chung Keong? Or that he was an aircraft technician before he became a stall owner? After 14 years, Mr Wong will be leaving NUSH as he is retiring. His day starts with him reaching school at 6.30 am to prep and ends with him leaving school after all his food has been sold. Mr Wong became a canteen stall owner as he did not enjoy his previous job as an aircraft technician and he really loved cooking, and it made him even happier to be able to share his food with the school. He also enjoys interacting with the school population. Being a food stall owner came with its own set of challenges, such as requiring a lot of preparation. One difficulty was that since NUSH students go out of school to eat often, his fellow canteen stall owners and he usually end up having to waste the food. As he embarks on a new chapter in life, Mr Wong has one piece of advice for us: we should enjoy what we are doing so that we won’t find it tiring and will have more motivation to do well, as when our heart is not in it, we will find it very tiring. Let’s all wish Mr Wong all the best as he sets out on a new journey in life!
How long have you been working in NUSH, and what is your average day like?
He has been working as a canteen stall owner in NUSH since 2006, that’s 14 years! His day usually starts with him waking up at around 4 am and he reaches school at around 6.30am to prepare. He starts selling at around 9.30am and he sells until he has cleared all the food he had prepared for the day. He goes home at around 4pm after cleaning up and preparing for the next day.
What made you want to be a canteen store vendor?
He was an aircraft technician at first, but he did not enjoy doing it, so he started a chicken rice stall at a kopitiam as he enjoyed cooking. He earned more money there, but it was very tough and tiring. When he became older, he decided to become a canteen stall owner to half retire, as although it earns him less money, it was much easier and he did not need that much money as it was only to support himself.
What do you enjoy most about your job, and why?
His favourite aspect of his job is that he gets to cook and share the food he made with others, as his love for cooking was the reason why he became a food stall owner. He also enjoys interacting with the students and teachers and having conversations with them.
What are some difficulties that you have faced throughout the years?
Being a food stall owner is not very easy as it requires a lot of preparation and movement. The stall can also become stuffy at times. Another difficulty was that since NUSH students go to UTown to eat often during long breaks, he and his fellow canteen stall owners end up preparing too much food as they do not know on which days the long breaks are, and end up having to throw them away, wasting food and money.
What is your reason for leaving us, and any advice?
He is fully retiring as he feels that he has already made enough money and would like to rest as he no longer has the same amount of energy as before due to his age. One piece of advice he has for us is that we should like and enjoy what we are doing so that we won’t find it tiring and will have more motivation to do well. If our heart is not in it, we will find it very tiring and very sian.