The Ktv pub which I am working in always starts at 8pm and ends at 1am++. In a way, this pub is more different from the other pubs both on the same level and other levels, or in short, much different from many of the ktv pubs which I worked in in Cuppage Plaza itself. I worked a total of 7 pubs within my 2yrs of Poly days as a part time job as a mean to sustain my finance.
Many of the ktv pubs which I worked before usually have cleaners/staff to handle the sweeping, wiping, mopping, washing of utensils and cups chores. But none of them I know actually offer and burn incense right outside their pubs. Yes, I’ve seen mini little altars right at the doorstep of some of the ktvs but burning incense on a daily working period? There was only 4 staff working in that ktv pub, lady boss not included. Each of us are rostered on a weekly basis to come an hr before official business hour starts. Sweeping, wiping and suting is normal but what intrigues me is that there is a compulsory chore to be done and in the practical mind, it doesn’t make any sense at all. You see, the chairs arranged in the pub is such that it is a counter-style interior. A longish table with velveted armchairs neatly spaced and pushed in after closing hours. Us staff would work behind the counter to serve and pour drinks for the customers. The lady boss insists that every time any of us comes for her duty roster, she must pull out each and every armchair (there is a total of 25 armchairs) and ‘bang’ it against the counter an approx 3 times and then pushed back to where the armchair was originally placed. Each and every chair has to be done this way. Not that its dusty I thought. Besides this, anyone on roster that week had to bring out an empty Milo-tin and burn incense papers in it, offer 3 cups of Chinese tea, light up the joss sticks, etc…and just before it hits 8pm, we have to bring in the burnt incense in the milo tin, tea cups, joss sticks and all. Ok, so the latter might be normal, but what about the banging of chairs?
This was what as told by my skeptic modern Malay ah lian colleague, Anna, after our brush with the supernatural on one night after closing hours (will be mentioned later in the story):
” You know me lah, I am not the type to believe in such things especially the chinese stuff. But after what happened a few times I very scared liao. Cannot say don’t believe. You know the towkay neo (lady boss in Hokkien) always say we have to bang the chairs against the counter right? Last time I didn’t know what it signifies so once I came late for my duty and I was in a rush and I didn’t bang the chairs. It was a Friday some more and you know lah, Friday and Saturday nights are always the best business not like Mon, Tues or Wed. I didn’t do the usual procedure that day and I noticed that business that night was very, very poor. Almost just like Mon’s business. I went outside for a smoke and I saw alot of customers in other pubs on the same level as our pub but very funny how ours are so quiet. Then towkay neo asks me sternly if I got bang the chairs for that day or not and I lied to her I did. You should know the boss lah, very strict one. If I say No, sure I mati (die in malay) one. Luckily she believed me anyway. Then not long a few weeks after that incident while talking to towkay neo I just ask ask her for fun lah….how come we must bang the chairs everytime during roster. She says that she opened her pub for many over years already and even when she didn’t want to believe it, afew things happened that led her to do this usual routine daily procedure. She didn’t say what happened lah. But according to towkay neo she says that the pub is kotoh (dirty in malay) and that every night when we clean up and close the pub, those spirits would come over and party in the pub. They would make merry, drink the alcohols and even at times, get drunk and fall asleep on the armchairs. So by banging the armchairs we actually take them by shock and wake them up so they would leave. If the chairs isn’t banged one by one, they will be occupying the pub by sleepin on the armchairs and somehow got this black aura that would cover the pub. Not about those people with the 3rd eye, even those that can’t see spirits will also find uncomfortable in going into the pub when they walk pass it. Becos you know this level already have 6 pubs, upstairs and downstairs a total of 7 levels, with at least 6 pubs on each level. Business is very competitive. Customers would rather go to the one they pass by and feel comfortable with. So after that day I make sure that no matter how late or out of time I am during roster I would always bang the armchairs against the counters. And yah lor, after that business improved and back to normal on those days whenever I on duty.
I’ve recounted the same story to Gate and he tells me that there could be another reason behind this antic for good business rationale. According to him, many superstitious chinese people believed that by creating loud noises it will dispel bad aura and spirits and invite good business/ aura in. Which is why hawkers in the old days tend to cook noisily with alot of ladles, woks, pans, bowls and spoons clanging during their work. This could similarly bring a resemblance as to why the chinese people traditionally lights up noisy firecrackers during chinese new yr as the mythical legendary monster by the name of Nian is afraid of loud, offensive noises.
Another one more incident happened to me that time. Jackie (name short for Jacqueline, our most senior staff there) saw my face at that time mah. U not working that day so you didn’t know. As you know right, we staff are only allowed to be behind the counters pouring drinks, refilling titbits and talking to guests. Once I was happily chatting to a customer seated directly infront of me and as I was doing so, I was washing some cups too. So naturally I looked down at my work and up at the customer often so as not to be rude when I am talking to him. Then it happened. As normal, I casually lifted my head up to face the customer when I saw a black dark humanoid shadow darting behind him. It appear to come from the main door and rush into the empty armchair that towkey neo always put at the corner of the pub. I don’t know why she puts it there. So eerie. Theres no table infront or near the chair and its at the very 90 degree angle of the whole pub. Anyway the black shadow was so fast that it was like a split second. But I know and swear what I saw although it was fast. My face of course turn white with shock. Even the customer and Jackie noticed it and she asked me what happened. For a long time I was still in shock and my mouth was agape. Couldn’t find any words to speak or scream. When I recovered from shock then I told Jackie. Jackie tells me this is normal. I told this to towkay neo and she says that that is why she always advise us staff that whenever who was on duty roster and had to come early to open the pub, try to open and leave the main door of the pub fully open behind us. If we enter and the main door behind us was closed, funny things will happen. Because the main switch to the lights and electricity of the pub is at the very, very end of the entire room, we have to walk through the entire darkness of the pub. ”
As to why Anna would reveal about all the supernatural going ons to me, a part-timer then, came about after one eerie incident one night after closing hours. Unfortunately for me, I was on duty that week when it happened. I recalled very clearly that Jackie, Anna and the lady boss was standing right behind me watching me close the shutters and lock the main door. I was damn sure because they were giggling about my small stature when I had to struggle for the shutters which was very high and not within my reach. Our group of 4 split once outside Cuppage Plaza. Anna was always with me when going back as she lives near me and we share the same cab to save on the cab fare even though it was reimbursed by the company. Somehow that day she didn’t took the cab back home as she was waiting for her boyfriend to fetch her for some supper with their friends. Her boyfriend told her that the earliest he can arrive was an 1 hr later after she knocked off. Bored and uncomfortable to be alone in a sleazy area, Anna sought my company to which I did. Just then, a naughty idea struck her.
” Hey…. since my bf won’t be here till 1 hr’s time and towkay neo and Jackie already left long ago, why don’t we go upstairs, turn on the karaoke system and sing some songs? After all, we don’t do it when can we have the chance to do it? Towkay neo always very ngiao one. Most times she’s always around and we can’t touch the karaoke system to sing on our own. We also go up relax relax 1 hour before my boyfriend comes lah… no one will know. You don’t tell, I don’t tell lah. ”
Anna had a point. Moreover, both of us were itching for a singing session at that time. We cheekily took the lift back up to the pub and as I was nearest to the door, I opened it. The shutters were unlocked and everything was ok when the door’s lock didn’t budge. You know, whenever you slip the key into the keyhole and turn the key, there would usually be the “click” sound of the lock being undone. I tried and tried, but the lock didn’t seem to bulge. Thats funny….. everyone saw me lock up the main door and it was nicely locked without a problem too. Anna was astounded and she took over but even she couldn’t turn the key. I tried the other remaining key meant for the shutters (there was only 2 keys on the key ring) knowing full well it was impossible and I was right. The key couldn’t even fit into the main door’s keyhole which meant to say that I couldn’t have used the wrong key for the wooden main door’s keyhole. Anna had a pair of keys to the pub too and she tried hers but the results were the same. Both of us were more blur than scared. It also hit me then that even if both keys were at fault, the least was that we could still turn a little degree of the key than none at all. It looked as if the lock was firmly stuck…. as if something behind the door was firmly and strongly holding onto the door’s lock such that it was impossible to even turn a degree of the key. Now, the wooden main door had a little long rectangular strip of glass panel ( it measured an estimated 1/2 foot in width and its height was the same as the door itself) that runs vertically alongside the edge of the door, near where the lock is. I didn’t know why I said it but it just came out of my mouth half in jest, half in a serious tone :
” Maybe why we can’t open the door is because got something behind it holding it firmly that we can’t even turn a bit of the lock. U tried it too just now right? U know how tight the lock was. ”
And just when I said it, Anna’s face froze and turned ghostly pale. As if automatic and without a word, both of us glanced at the corner of our eye with the same motion, and saw some bluish light emitting from the counter area where only the staff are allowed to enter and its the same spot where we work. Without any hesitation we ran like 2 mad women out of that spot. Even in the lift we were literally still screaming away. One of my ex-boss from my previous pub which I worked at was at the nearby coffee shop and he was shocked to see us so freaked out.
Much later when we were pretty cooled down did Anna told me this:
” Just now when I was trying to get over the scare it suddenly dawned upon me one thing that towkay neo told me before. Maybe that force that prevented us from going in is not a ghost but a guardian spirit/God like those Chinese people always pray to. As you know lah, towkay neo always tell us to burn incense and light joss sticks pray to dunno what God during duty roster time. I think its because the God know of our naughty intentions and help towkay neo by not letting us have fun and havoc in the pub. Thats why we try and try but cannot open the door”.
It wasn’t long before that we realised too that we didn’t pull down the shutter and lock it in our bid to run away from the eerie pub. We waited till Anna’s bf turned up to which he did so on our behalf as us girls waited downstairs.
So, is it a guardian spirit/ God in the act to prevent us from having our own way in the absence of the lady boss or is it playful partying spirits who shut us out so as not to disrupt their midnight ghostly party gathering? Till now I don’t even know.
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