Spent six years as “a bit of a bum”
The Ngee Ann poly grad explains her motivation for becoming a hawker last year with great candour. “I chose the Advertising and Public Relations course, not because I liked it lah. It was one of the better courses I could get with my O-level scores (laughs),” she tells 8days.sg. “But once I graduated, when I went for job interviews, they’d always say that [such] jobs will [entail] long hours, with no overtime pay. They say that I have to live on the fulfillment [of a job well done] – to me, that’s quite ridiculous lah.”
So instead, she spent the following six years working on and off in part-time gigs, including helping out as a retail assistant at her parents’ [now-defunct] modest shoe biz. One full-time job she had was as an insurance agent, earning “around $4 to $5K a month” – though she quit after seven months. “The income was good, but no matter how good it was, I wouldn’t have stayed – I didn’t like how we were taught to put ourselves and the company first [ahead of customers],” she explains.
The hawker adds pensively: “Honestly, I was a bit of a bum. I don’t come from a well-to-do family, but my parents always gave me more than enough to live a not-bad life for six years until one day I told myself, ‘I cannot keep living like this. I don’t want to be a loser [who mooches off her parents].’”
Yuen Wvei ended up joining the hawker trade after a suggestion from her relatives – one of her older cousins manages the kopitiam that Bing Duo Duo now resides in, while another manages a number of stalls there. Even Yuen Wvei’s dad, who closed his shoe biz after sales dwindled over the years, also works at the coffeeshop cooking Malaysian-style pan mee at another stall.
Why did she choose to become a full-time hawker after all these years? "Honestly, I don't like to listen to other people, and I’m more of a hands-on person. It feels different to have something of my own to work on – the hours are long, and sometimes you get small injuries [while working as a hawker], but I would rather do this than dress nicely and go to the office.”
She adds that she’s grateful for her parents’ patience all these years: "I took longer than other people [to find a full-time job I like]. It’s fulfilling to me to earn money and hopefully provide for them."