Don’t Forget Your Tissue Pack
According to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a towel is the most “massively useful” thing you can bring along when you are traveling.
I suppose that covers all of the galaxy except that unique corner of the universe known as Singapore.
In Singapore, the tissue pack is king.
You see, the restaurants in Singapore don’t provide napkins and the bathrooms don’t have paper towels.
So every true Singaporean keeps a small pack of tissue handy in pocket or purse because some of the best food available involves getting your hands pretty dirty.
But the humble tissue pack is more than just a clean up device. It’s a calling card, perhaps better described as a place holder.
In the many Hawker Centers in Singapore serving up fabulous street food, things can get pretty busy, especially at lunchtime. There are usually a lot of tables, but they fill up quickly.
The best way to hold an open table while you order up your food is to lay a tissue pack on the table or seat.
I’m totally serious.
There is a social contract amongst the people of Singapore that says if a table has a tissue pack laying on it, that table is reserved. And everyone honors this.
No one simply pushes the tissue pack away and sits down. The tissue pack carries clout.
I was told that the tissue pack hold can last for at least a half hour or possibly longer.
And then once you get your heaping plate of chilli crab you settle into your saved seat and dig in to crack claws and legs and extract every savory morsel. The tissues are there to help you clean up.
Tissue packs are relatively cheap if you buy them in a drug store, like five cents a pack, but so valuable that it’ll run you up to a Sing Dollar (about .80 US) if you forgot your pack and have to buy one there at the Hawker Center.
It’s best not to show up unprepared.
Oh yes, in Singapore the most massively useful thing is a good clean supply of tissue packs.
Image from the Musings on Communication blog.