Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Not sweating the small stuff

The other day I was invited to a function where I was supposed to bring a dish. It  was potluck. I accepted but had been too busy doing other things to pick up a cake. I wondered if I had time to rush to Bangsar to my new favourite bakery and pick up a peanut butter chocolate cake. No, I didn’t. Besides, as I now found out, the bakery was closed on Mondays.

I did what anyone in a dilemma would do. I enlisted the services of a superhero. In this case, the superhero was the Gen Y person who sat next to me. Throw any conundrum at her, and she would figure out how to get it done with the least amount of fuss.

“Well, why don’t you try EatCakeToday?”

“What’s that?”

“It’s this platform where you can buy a cake from one of the artisan bakeries and they deliver it to you. For free,” she smiled sweetly like a person who has all the answers. (It’s important to have those in your life).

It blew me away. Was my pressing dilemma going to be solved by so simple a solution? Did I just have to pick a cake and click buy and have it delivered? The website said I would have to give them four hours. Actually there were only two hours more (they operated till 5pm). I tried anyway, and what do you know, one of the nice ladies delivered my cake of choice (chocolate salted caramel) to me at the office and with no trouble at all, I was good to go. Problem solved. And everybody at the function, which was incidentally called “Feast for Good” loved the cake.

Recently, for the Malayalee harvest festival, Onam, I wanted to order a thali meal from this Kerala restaurant I had just discovered in Aman Suria and have it sent to my father. Now, I could do it myself. But that would involve going to the place, finding parking, ordering and getting the meal and then driving all the way to my father’s house. And coming back to the office.

No problem, said another Gen Y-er on my desk. “Just use GoGet. You put in the request, say how much you will tip and then wait for someone to accept the errand.”

So I did. According to my colleagues I went a little overboard with my tip (my errand got picked up right away) but honestly, thinking of all the hassle it would save me, I tipped according to my conscience. As it was a cash on delivery thing and I didn’t want them to charge my father, I managed to do an online bank transfer. And everything went beautifully. I couldn’t get over how easy it all was.

Recently, I wanted to hire movers but was too lazy to go look for one. The last mover I had employed (to bring a few items from JB to KL) had done a terrible job, breaking the fridge and losing the way to my house. How could I find ones that worked?

“Have you tried Kaodim?” asked another Gen Y-er in my office. “I wanted someone to clean an apartment and I put the job there…then companies bid for the job and I chose the cheapest but ended up giving them a tip because the price was ridiculously low.”

As easy as that? I tried it. And got five different bids. And picked one. It was all so hassle-free that I still have difficulty believing it.

It’s a brave new world, as Aldous Huxley might point out, and one that leaves me constantly aghast. I love the creativity that goes into thinking up ways of making my life less irksome. I love not having to brave traffic jams or go around asking for recommendations for a variety of different little jobs that no one seems to want to do.

I am glad to work in a place filled with young people who know all about this stuff. Ask them how to do something and just sit back. They will come up with the best, cheapest and most convenient solution.

I don’t even bother to do my own homework. I just ask. For instance, I have a foodie colleague that I call when I need a restaurant recommendation. She is “au courant” with all the food blogs and she has tried most of them. I give her my specifications (which area, what kind of food, what kind of price range) and c’est voila! She comes up with a series of recommendations that always hit the spot.

One of her recommendations (for my brother’s birthday) has since become a family favourite. And I take my friends visiting from overseas there and it has never failed to please. That’s how good she is.

I guess the same could be said for financial planning. You need to know people who know. You check out the savvy ones and you do what they do. Or you ask them. Most people are keen to share their knowledge.

So I guess it’s OK if you’re an ignorant Luddite like me. You just need to be surrounded by smart people. Henry Ford thought so. I do too.

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