Do you know who I am?

One of the reasons why World Savage (and all its orbiting subsidiaries) is so weird is because it is run by two extremely introverted people. We love our work and we enjoy meeting new friends, but people sometimes turn us into sad, wet rags. Over the years, we tried to mitigate this problem in several ways at our various stores – hanging a paper bag at the door that said “By Appointment Only” even though we weren’t, running away from our doorstep when we saw strangers peering in, charging a $20 fee for people to browse if they didn’t buy anything…

It actually takes a lot before people get it that YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE THEM. The thing is, most of us want to be gratified immediately. It’s some kind of biological, evolutionary instinct. If you’re instantly gratified, you will make more babies.

But the other thing is, World Savage is the opposite of instant gratification.

So after two years of being holed up at our home studio, we decided to take this shop space 5 minutes walk, 1 minute bike ride from our apartment. We used to look at this empty space while eating noodles at the coffeeshop right across and we’d be all, who would take this horrible space hahaha.

That would be us. We have wonderful frontage, but we are of course by appointment only because we are filled with self-awareness ok?

Somebody asked us the other day why we even have a store with frontage when we don’t want walk in customers. It’s really advertising in the only way we know how. Art and beauty speak for themselves right?

So the other day, close to midnight, our wonderful frontage attracted the attention of one man and his posse of three. We were in the middle of redoing our displays and I was making some model trees. Our door was of course locked so he knocked.

“We work by appointment only. Most of our items haven’t been displayed. Would you like to come back another day?”

“You will regret it if you don’t let me in!” he said imperiously.

I looked at the guy. He’s in his 60s. He’s with friends. We have to give face to old people, especially when they are with younger friends. I let the old man in. He came in with two of his friends, but the youngest man in the group stood outside.

I stood at the door and implored the young man to come in, but he didn’t seem like he could make a decision by himself and I’m not even sure if he could speak English. He finally came in after his friends noticed what was happening and asked him in, after which he just spent the whole time wordlessly standing by the door.

The first thing the old man said to us when he walked in was, “Do you know who I am or not? I AM XXX!!!”

In my life, only two people have asked me that question and both times I had no idea who they were. Both happened to be single men with unconventional proclivities. It’s as if they have no idea who they are outside of their proclivities, because no one loves them enough to hold up a mirror to show them how beautiful, how ugly, how strange, how human they are. And I suppose men are men – they always think they are entitled to an answer. So they go around asking people they think they can lord over if they know who they are.

What they don’t know is how transparent they are. And whatever grace they are afforded, comes from kindness and empathy, not weakness.

But of course they don’t see that since men are stupid.

Some choice bits of conversation:

“GIRL!!! You should be in Orchard Road!!!”
“But Orchard Road is dead.”

“Who’s your backer?? Who’s your daddy???”
“No backer. My father is a retiree with two dogs living in Marine Parade.”

“We auctioned one lot at Christies.”

“Who’s your craftsman?? Who do these things for you? WHO??? WHERE???”

“GIRL!!! You believe me lah! If what I say is not true I will buy you your shop!!!”

“I put cheongsam in your shop to sell you want?”
“I think it won’t sell here.”
“My cheongsam is $3500 ok!”

“SO EXPENSIVE! You naughty girl ah you!”

This went on for over an hour, during which he looked at many things. His friends did not say a word. In fact, I have no idea what they sound like. He did not eventually buy anything, probably because we refused to budge on any of the prices. He did not do anything that made me feel like he deserved it.

Did we need the money? Yes. Could we have made some deals that night? Yes. But one thing I learnt, and perhaps it only applies to gentle people like us, is that you should never do business with people who only want to win.

After he and his posse left, we immediately googled XXX. Who wouldn’t? I won’t share what we found out here, but if we meet at the store, you can ask me 🙂

We were supposed to meet him for something else but we decided not to. We sent him a text. It said, “We are ugly but we have the music.”

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