Temasek Shophouse, aka. TSH, on a Saturday during Foreword Coffee’s appreciation lunch last Saturday. Photo credits: Keith Goh.
Tomorrow I will be working at Temasek Shophouse (TSH) for the first time. I can’t believe it’s already been six months since I joined the company.
You never know what life has prepared for you. Before November 2018, I never knew that Foreword Coffee existed, and never thought that I would be working with people with special needs, and having worked with (and still is) some of them, I realize that I am more than just a perfect fit for the company, if not for the role I’m in, because everyone’s story is different, yet I can relate to some stories as if it were my own, a mirror of my previous experiences.
Sometimes I question whether God put me in certain situations, or let me experience certain emotions and feelings, only to find out later that those experiences are what shaped me to be who I am today and also be able to find familiarity in the people that I mix with and their stories.
In this part, I write about the colleagues that I have worked the longest with (so far).
When I first joined the company, I was stationed at Civil Service College (CSC), and that was where I met A (one of the exclusive few in Foreword to own a “Barista” badge) for the first time. As someone with a disability, I had previously joined groups and events that included people that had autism, those events came and went, and I never saw those people again, but this was the first instance in which I had to work with someone with autism and do so over an extended period of time. I always wondered if I would be able to cope, me being someone who is expressive, and he who is the total opposite, and initially I found myself escaping the situation whenever he had a meltdown, but having worked with him regularly over these months, I realized that it is more important to look beyond someone’s quirks and work with his strengths.
A is a great worker, very quick and (generally) accurate and observes a high level of cleanliness, which is crucial, especially in the F&B industry. Even though he is an introvert and extremely shy, but he can be very chatty when he is familiar with you, which might sometimes be annoying, but he is generally quite likable.
Between the two of us, we even created a work process that makes the workflow smoother. For instance, when customers order drinks, I just have to state three things (name, size, dine in or takeaway), and even before the order chit is out, the drink is done. Facing familiar customers at CSC makes it even easier; before the customer reaches the counter, the order is typed in, and he prepares it faster than you can say “Welcome”. During closing time, the delegation of work is simple, there’s no need to argue over who does what, I just say, “I do this and you do that, okay?” and things move from there.
At CSC, M is my manager and she is highly respected in the company for her many years of experience in the F&B industry prior to joining Foreword. Her credentials more than make up for her hearing impairment and those standards have carried Foreword to the company, where she runs the outlet impeccably, sometimes as if it’s like her own home.
Working at Foreword is an adventure every day, seeing new customers come into CSC, and looking forward to our regulars, and occasionally having a chat with them. The next few months will be interesting, as I will be rotating between CSC and TSH, and different work environments mean working with different people with different styles and methods. I hope that I will be able to find a way to make work as smooth as it is in CSC, but I understand that I will also have to adapt to a different environment, with different personalities, and we can work together, and ensure that the business continues to prosper, whilst making friends and building relationships with one another.
Here’s to the next six months, and another report in December.