By JEFF YONG
I THINK we’ve lost it. Lost what? you might well ask. The skills to cook, that’s what! From the proliferation of motorcyclists running our food errands, I’m wondering what’s happening to our basic cooking skills at home.
In a generation or two to come, I dare say we may not even know how to boil an egg as we rely more and more on take-out food, courtesy of the many food delivery services available now at our fingertips such as foodpanda, dahmakan, GrabFood, Cooked, and The Naked Lunchbox, among others.
It’s looking like we have lost the will to go into the kitchen. Perhaps we’re adhering to the popular maxim that says: “If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.” So, we’ve wilted.
At one time, there was a controversy in Penang when foreigners were not allowed to prepare food in eateries.
I suppose it was a case of Penangites jealously guarding their recipes so that the secrets of their yummiest prawn mee or other delicacies could not sail away to Nepal or Myanmar!
But seriously, if locals are bent on going online for food, how can we expect them to cook at home in the first place?
The rising number of online orders for food delivery has also somehow created a group of potential motorcycling artistes for circus troupes among the delivery boys.
The way some of them weave in and out through heavy traffic on the road and even beat the traffic lights seemingly without a care for the rules, are just some of the stunts they pull – all in the name of food delivery.
I was asked whether the companies they work for have a rule that they must deliver within a certain time. I’m not so sure.
But what if a popular restaurant has too many orders, or its cook is under the weather? You can’t blame the delivery guy, can you, if your order arrives late?
Still, they shouldn’t compromise safety just to satisfy the whims and fancies of some well-to-do customers who expect the food to come to their doorstep within 10 minutes. Even their mothers wouldn’t be able to whip up a plate of fried rice in that time from scratch!
So I hope those riders don’t break the rules just to satisfy the cravings of an online customer who should understand their difficulties.
These boys have to endure difficulties like having to find parking for their motorbikes and waiting for the food to be ready.
They then have to be careful when placing the grub inside their bags, before riding to the intended destination.
That could be only 5km away but located in an apartment that’s 20 storeys high, and with lifts that sometimes take a lifetime to arrive! Come rain or shine, they’re still at it.
How much do these people make? Quite a sum, if they work hard at it for some 10 to 12 hours a day.
Some take in RM500 to RM600 a week if they run about 15 trips per day. It’s a decent and honest living, but not easy at all.
One company pays beginners RM3 per trip and RM5 per hour on weekdays, and RM6 on weekends. Theoretically, if they’ve three orders within an hour, they get RM5 + RM3 +RM3 + RM3 = RM14.
There’s an extra bonus of RM2 per trip for orders after 11pm, and increased payment for each trip on weekends. They’re paid more as they gain more experience.
That fancy delivery bag you see on the back of their motorbikes costs RM150. And if they were to lose it, they’ve to pay RM250 to get back a similar bag!
It’s tough work, but some have even saved enough to get married to their sweethearts.
Guys, I salute you all. But do remember – your lives are more valuable than the food you deliver.
Jeff Yong, after making his mark in the twisty maze of mainstream journalism, has finally decided to enjoy what he does best – observing the unusual and recounting the gleeful. He can be contacted at email@example.com.