10 February 2013


Murphy’s Law states that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. While I have had some days when things haven’t exactly gone my way, I have not experienced a day quite like last Friday. Last Friday was definitely a day when absolutely EVERYTHING went completely opposite from what should have actually happened. Don’t believe me. Let’s take a walk down memory lane….

Friday was a day that Nicola and I had been planning for two weeks. Since today is the beginning of the Chinese New Year celebrations, Nic was fortunate enough to have half a day off work Friday. She has been working a lot since her role in December began and, as a result, we have not had nearly enough time together. As an example, it is now February 10 and this is the first day since we returned from our U.S. holiday that the Browns have joined us at home for dinner. Saturday night dinners used to be a weekly occurrence and we have now gone an entire month without one.

Nic was truly excited about her day off. She began thinking of all of the things she wanted to do. “We should do something really relaxing like get massages,” she said two weeks ago. Then, a few days later she said, “We should have a pool day and then chill out in the apartment and watch movies.” O.K. A few days later I heard, “Let’s go to the cinema and watch Silver Linings Playbook.” I was good with that, too, but now I was having a dilemma. Was I to dress for poolside sun or the arctic temperatures we would experience in the cinema?

Then last week she decided we should go into Chinatown for shopping and so she could take pictures to send her mother, who is apparently keen to know more about Chinese New Year practices. I gave up trying to guess and just assumed we would figure it out on the day.

The morning started out well. I was able to get some work done at the house, though it meant that I skipped an AWA coffee and the chance to see a good friend who is back in town for the summer. I had a meeting at the RDA that also went quite well, with a couple little hiccups.

Then, Murphy showed up. Stupid Murphy. I didn’t call him and I certainly didn’t invite him to come ruin my afternoon with Nicola Brown.

Nic and I actually made real plans to go to lunch in Holland Village. Actually, we made plans to buy cupcakes at our favorite bakery, Plain Vanilla, which is located in Holland Village. We frequent this bakery, which takes an hour to get to from our houses – which shows our love, commitment and addiction to these amazing mini cakes.

Since we would be in Holland Village, we thought we would get some dim sum at Nic’s favorite corner restaurant. It was going to be great. Nic left work a little later than anticipated, which was fine because my meeting started late, which meant it also went later than expected. Nic and I decided to meet at the train station at the Botanic Gardens and I would quickly run this errand with her before we headed to HV. Great.

Just as I left the RDA, the skies grew dark and the rain began to come down. It wasn’t pouring but it was definitely steadily raining and I had recently discovered that my umbrella was broken – functional but broken. I made it to the train station and found Nicola, dressed uber professionally in a black skirt, hose, a sheer cream-colored top and massive heals. When we came up from the underworld and made our way to the street, we were greeted by an unpleasant realization: monsoon season was not over. It. Was. POURING!

Now, I have told Nic no less than 2,349 times that Singapore is a tropical island that has an actual, documented rainy season. The climate is such that weather forecasters cannot often predict storms, they just pop up suddenly, dump inches of rain upon us and disappear as quickly as they came. Has she purchased an umbrella yet? No. How long has she lived here? A year. Did you catch that she was wearing a sheer, cream-colored top without carrying an umbrella? Murphy.

So Nic and I studied the area and wondered if we should take cover or make a run for it. We considered grabbing a cab but did not truly see that as a possibility. We only needed to go about five blocks. So we went for it. We huddled under my broken umbrella, Nic with her hand around my waste, towering over me by at least a foot in her mega heals, and we made our way across traffic and under the cover of a small plaza. “Should we just stop into one of these cafés for lunch and wait out the rain for a bit?” I asked. “Yeah, let’s do that,” Nic agreed.

We found a small café with only one or two people inside so we ducked in and thanked God for the shelter. We confirmed that the café had food and then we ordered. I was disappointed because it was about 1:30 in the afternoon and this place only served breakfast items but I ordered my French toast and juice and sat down. Nic and I were both starving but did that make our food come within the first 20 minutes? No. Murphy.

There was no kitchen. I watched the woman who took our orders reuse two pans and hot plates to make our meals. Our drinks arrived at our table 10 to 15 minutes after we ordered. Ten minutes after that, Nic received her plate. And then, nothing. I watched as the woman stood around in the back, fiddled with a couple things, made her way over to another table and chatted for a bit. The entire time I wanted to give the evil “Wtf do you think you are doing? I am starving. Please go make my food” stare, but I didn’t. I waited. And then my food finally came and we ate and we left.

While we were inside the storm continued blazing. The lightning was so strong that even with my back to the windows and door, I could see the bright flashes on the walls I was facing. It was still raining when we left.

The biggest intersection we had to cross involves navigating through two intersections and two crosswalks in a divided highway sort of setup. To make things fun, the power  had gone out in this section and neither the stop lights nor the crosswalk indicators were working. Thanks. Murphy.

Again huddled under my broken umbrella, Nic had her arm around my waist and was literally driving me around puddles and across roads. We saw an opportunity to cross the out-of-power intersection as a bus pulled beside us so we made a shimmy for it, throwing our hands out to the oncoming cars to indicate that we decided we had the right of way.

We made it into the office completely soaked but unharmed. Nic completed her errand and we headed out, excited that it appeared the rain had finally stopped. On the way out of the office, one of my flip flops decided to slip and skip the last step, nearly causing me to break my leg and fall on the wet ground. Luckily, though, Nic had my arm and saved me. I stayed standing.

We found our way back to the main road and happened upon a bus stop. The bus from my neighborhood was next to arrive so we jumped on and rode a few stops to Plain Vanilla Bakery.

When we arrived, we noticed the Cold Storage grocery and decided to pop in for a few items. I needed two key ingredients for Rice Krispie treats: Rice Krispies and marshmallows, neither of which I could find at the time. Nic stocked up on cat food and treats for her kitties, who were at that moment at the SPCA where they had been spayed. We were to pick them up later in the day and Nic wanted to be sure they had plenty of goodies ready for them when they were back to normal.

She decided that we also needed to watch a movie so we stocked up on movie treats like chips and chocolate. Then we found that giant Ribena bottles were on sale at a reduced price when two were purchased so we got those…and some cokes…and a couple other drinks like grape soda and ginger ale. Before we knew it we were carrying four pretty sizable grocery bags into the Holland Village streets.

Because it was our friend Katie’s birthday, we thought we would get a pair of cupcakes for her and her husband to share. Unfortunately, the two-cupcake boxes were out of stock. We were presented with two options: one, the clerk would give us two cupcakes in two paper lunch bags or two, we had to order four cupcakes so that they could be placed in a four-cupcake box. Could we have two cupcakes in a four-cupcake box because this was to be a gift for someone and a bag would just not do? No. No, we had to have four cupcakes. What if we wanted three, would that be O.K.? No. No, this is Singapore and everyone has to follow the rules. So I bought four cupcakes. Murphy.

We made our way outside in search of a cab and I texted our Katie friend to see if it would be alright to pop by and giver her a little gift…when it had been raining….on a Friday afternoon…in Holland Village…on the night beginning a holiday weekend. The designated cab line was way too long so we walked up the street carrying one work briefcase, one work bag with a laptop and notebooks, four bags of groceries and two four-cupcake bakery boxes to hail a cab up the hill at a bus stop. We tried for a while but got refused by several green cab drivers so we walked to another drop-off area across the street hoping for a better result. We got nothing. Murphy.

At that point I was tired of waiting for a cab, and it started to rain again, so I made the executive decision to grab all of our things and make our way to the MRT. Unknowingly, I passed the entrance but I thought I would give this cab flagging thing one more try. It worked. We got a cab 25 minutes after we started this whole ordeal.

“ECP to Siglap, please,” I told the cab driver and advised Katie we were actually on our way. Then we checked the time. It was 4:35 and Nicola was told that the SPCA clinic would close its doors at 5. Instead of going to Katie’s first, which, by the way is next to my house on the other side of the island, and then popping over to pick up the cats, we were about to hit traffic and realized we needed to change our course. Murphy.

“Sorry, can we please go to the Bartley area instead? Take the KPE to Paya Lebar?” Our cab driver advised that he was on his probationary period (a.k.a. new cab driver) and was unfamiliar with the way so he needed to call for directions and plug the address into his GPS. He told me that he would take two other highways, the CTE to the PIE and exit somewhere near Serangoon. “No, KPE, not CTE,” I tried to barter but it was clear that this guy did not know his way. So I agreed to have him drive the way he knew and then we were faced with exactly what I knew would happen on the CTE – we hit traffic. Awesome, rainy, Friday evening traffic. The KPE doesn’t get traffic like the CTE and PIE do, which is why I requested to go via the KPE but Murphy won and I lost because obviously Nic and I were not going to get what we wanted that day.

So we sat in traffic on the CTE and we caught some traffic on the PIE. Meanwhile, Nic was feeling just as she did that day we decided to go whale watching in Sydney. She was ready to puke in the backseat of the car. She had me tell her funny stories to divert her attention from her awfully nauseated tummy so that she didn’t have to think about sticking her head out the window. For anyone who does not know, Singaporean drivers must be citizens; no foreigners are allowed to be bus or cab drivers, so I am fine acknowledging that Singaporean drivers are not taught that constant pressure on the gas pedal results in a smooth ride. Instead, Singaporean drivers push in the gas, bring their foot off, push in the gas, bring their foot off and continue like that for the whole ride. Some drivers put more force than others and it is not uncommon to feel whiplash after a cab ride. Cab rides can be compared to roller coaster rides. Murphy.

We made it to the SPCA just after closing time and we were able to pick up Nicola’s cats, Fairy Flower Brown and Princess Flower Brown, two Siamese sisters. They were still drowsy; one cat continued to sleep in the carrier. Had I known this task would have only taken a few minutes, we may have been able to persuade our cab driver, who was on a shift change, to wait just a few minutes. Instead, we let him go, went inside and, when I realized Nic was nearly finished, I made my way to the reception area to arrange for a cab.

“Hi, can you arrange for a cab?” I asked a woman at the desk. “No, sorry, we don’t do that.” Murphy.

“You can’t call me a cab?”


“O.K…can you give me the address so I can arrange for a cab on my phone?”

”Sure,” and she gave me the address.

Forty-five minutes later, Nic and I were still sitting in the SPCA lobby, watching as workers continued to go off shift and leave us sitting there with our briefcase, work bag with the laptop and notebooks, four grocery bags and two four-cupcake bakery boxes and now a cat carrier with two cats inside just waiting for someone to take us home…or to Katie’s like we promised.

We considered public transportation since a train station was around the corner but we were not certain that pets were allowed on the train. We also considered taking a bus but wondered the same thing. It was nearly 6 p.m. on a Friday evening, rush hour and a holiday weekend, so the thought of taking all of our things and two cats coming out of anesthesia on a packed bus or packed train wasn’t exactly the best idea. So we thought of other alternatives.

”Who do we know with a car?” Nicola pondered.

”HELEN!” I exclaimed. “She will rescue us!” And I started dialing. Voicemail. Murphy.

”I hate this Murphy,” Nic said the first of seven times that evening.

A few minutes later, Helen called back. “Hi, hon, what’s up?”

”Helen! Nic and I are in a bit of an emergency. We have been waiting at the SPCA for 45 minutes and have not yet been able to secure a cab to get these two uneasy cats home. Can you come pick us up?”

”Oh,” she said sadly. “Tom has the car. He took Evie to her riding lesson! I’m so sorry.” Murphy. “I can walk around the corner and sympathize with you if you want.” “Nooo,” I assured her, said thanks anyway and hung up.

Fifty-five minutes and 14 failed attempt messages from the time we started, one of the staff members came over to tell us that a cab had been confirmed. Ha!

We finally made our way to Katie’s with all of our work stuff, groceries and two drowsy cats, which is, of course, exactly what we planned to do. Murphy.

Katie was thrilled to see us, and we were so happy to see Katie, Jeremy and their new baby. We learned the next morning that they loved the cupcakes even more than we thought they would so we were glad we were able to make just a little bit of Katie’s day.

Phew. We had finally completed everything we needed to do. All we needed was dinner and a chillaxing movie. And maybe a hard drink. We arranged for Duncan to stop by the dim sum place on his way home so that we could have the closest thing to takeout Chinese that there is here in Singapore. When I called to place the order, however, Murphy answered the phone. Murphy.

“Hi, I’d like to place an order for take away.”

“Wrong number. Different number for take away. Call….” Fine.

”Hi, I’d like to place an order for take away.”

“O.K. What your order?”

“One wonton noodle soup….one order of shrimp dumplings…”

”Shrimp. Dumplings?”

“Yes, shrimp dumplings,” and I quietly confirmed with Nicola that the things we wanted were actually called shrimp dumplings.

“Don’t have. Sold out.” Murphy.

“O.K.,” I continued. “Two orders char siew bao.”

“Don’t have. Sold out.” Murphy.

”Siew mai?”

”Sold out.” Stupid Murphy.

I gave up. “O.K. Never mind. Thank you.”


Did I mention it had started raining again?


We went back to Nic’s and told Duncan we would just figure out some kind of dinner plan once everyone was home. When we got there, Nic decided to help the kitties out of their carrier. One of the cats, Princess, was practically back to normal and immediately played around before dashing across the floor, hiding herself behind a living room chair.

Fairy, on the other hand, was still a bit out of sorts. She tried to move but, with her back legs still slightly paralyzed and the lack of friction on the marble floor, she didn’t do so well. Frustrated at her inability to move forward, she suddenly moaned and started pushing herself backward until she ran into the other living room chair. She couldn’t walk but she thought she could jump so she launched the front half of her body onto the chair’s arm and dangled because she couldn’t move her back end.

While I was laughing, Nic was disturbed and ran over to help Fairy. Nic touched the cat’s back end, which made the cat freak out and it all went downhill from there. Nic put the cat on the floor, the cat stood still, moaned and then fell over on one side. Nic, convinced that the cat was dying, started crying as if it were her mother dying in front of her. I did my best to reassure her that the cat was just still coming out of the anesthesia, likely uncomfortable and frustrated that she could not move. I also reminded Nic that she had had to pee for the last six hours but refused to go in public. I tried over and over again to calm her, get her to change out of her work clothes, take off her patent leather shoes that were squeaking against the newly-cleaned marble floor, driving my ears absolutely insane and go do what she needs to do while I sat with the cat. Murphy.

Then Duncan called asking what we were doing about dinner. “Ummm, I think you need to just come home. One of the cats is not well and Nic is really upset.” So Duncan came home. He helped with the cats. Nic changed clothes. All was better.

It was after 7 and we still had no idea what to do about dinner. “Delivery McDonald’s,” we all decided. Duncan called. “Uh, it’s going to be two and a half hours for delivery.” “NOOO!” I shouted. “Hang up the phone!”


At that point we opened up the vodka and Duncan advised he would take a taxi through the drive-thru. His taxi driver wasn’t too happy about it but the man had to get paid. We did make it into our jimmies. Duncan did bring us cold French fries, amazing burgers, a cup of ice that the staff members really did not want to give him and the hottest chicken nuggets I have ever eaten. We did not watch our movie but we did have some vodka drinks while watching Michael McIntyre so it ended up O.K.

When I was ready to leave, I headed out to find a green cab. I thought Murphy was done for the day, having already had way too much of him to begin with, but he gave me one last kick in the pants. I had one very circular conversation with the cab driver about where exactly I lived. I won’t go into it since I have gone on way too long already but let’s just say I told him where to go, he asked a bunch of questions and five minutes later he confirmed that I needed to go where I initially told him he needed to take me. So there. That was my day with Murphy, may he never come around again.

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