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Out For The Very First Time

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

by Mei Qun

Mei Qun is our staff writer. As you know by now, she is a self-appointed mask and space vigilante. Thankfully, she is not out most of the time, even in this RMCO but we warned, her wrath is … if you are caught by her!

Beware when you are out and about during this RMCO especially in makan places. There are self-appointed vigilantes around who will be more than willing to tick you off if you’re without a mask or don’t keep your distance. And don’t you ever dare rebut with ‘scared to die ah?’ heroics or their stares can turn you to dust!

My heart raced as I looked at those around me with suspicion. My head screamed, “You are too close moron!”

After more than 80 days in lockdown going out for a meal for the first time can be harrowing. In Malaysia where the concept of personal space is almost unheard of, suddenly that’s what you think of – ALL THE TIME!

You realised you have become a mask cum space vigilante on your first time out. “Why isn’t he wearing a mask whilst talking?” “Why are there so many people on that table?” “The table next to ours is too close!”

Once seated, out came the hand sanitisers and disinfectant wipes! One even brought her own set of cutleries!

Restaurants are seating at 50% capacity thanks to the need to adhere to physical distancing. Chairs are marked with huge “X”s indicating that you are not allowed to sit on them. Then again Malaysians are not the most obedient.

“I don’t like facing this way. I am going to move the chair” – and there goes the X chair!

I foresee more customer services challenges for owners and the service staff even as they strive to adhere to the SOPs

Three guys were seated at the table next to ours. Suddenly two unexpected friends turned up to join them turning that table for three to five. The serving staff jumped into action. Fortunately, the customers listened and moved on. I can imagine a scenario where inevitably someone will throw his / her weight around “Do you know who I am? I’m Datuk/Datin XXX” and out flies the SOP.

One piece of advice if you plan on dining out with friends – make reservations! Gone are the days when you just walk in.

While there may be space in the restaurants, they can’t seat you beyond their allowed post-COVID capacity. I saw quite a number of groups being turned away. You can’t muscle your way in even if you are a “VIP” – remember throw a stone in any which direction and you will hit a self-imagined VIP any time in this country.

And, if you are a diner, be considerate. Yes, it is lovely to catch up with friends over a meal but don’t linger. Remember, restaurants need turnover to make money. Also, it minimizes your exposure!

Towards the end of my dine-out experience during the final leg of the current MCO stage, I felt the on-set of a headache and sore throat. “I wanna go home!” churned in my mind as I looked furtively at the restaurant’s exit. Needless to say, I was the first out of the doors when someone exclaimed “Let’s go!”

Would I go out to dine again? Yes, but only if absolutely necessary and on really special occasions. Give me an intimate home party any time!

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