Three random thoughts from a Hong Kong millennial.
1. Collecting Mannings stamps
Becoming an adult means you start buying your own shampoo, face wash and menstrual pads. And in Hong Kong, that means TONS of “stamps” from Wellcome or Mannings. You know, those tiny stickers that you collect and stick on a card until you have enough to exchange a reinforced Chinese multi-purpose knife, a piece of luggage, or a titanium PRO wok.
At first, I refused the stamps. I associated them with housewives or stingy people who counted every single cents. But then that one fateful day comes, when I realized, OH MAN, getting a quality knife and a non-stick pan (at only $200 if you have 40 stickers!) will actually make my life so much better.
I started keeping the stickers in my wallet, and once I accumulated more than 40 stickers, I frantically stuck them on the card outside a Mannings store. I walked inside the store with my boyfriend, and debated the respective merits of a stock pot versus a 26-inch frying pan.
We had to move quick — the other Mannings we visited was already selling out of options. Walking up to the cashier, stickers collection card in hand, we asked for the frying pan as well as a discounted set of Chinese knives (you only have to add an extra $200!).
That entire process, I’m not kidding you, felt like a more serious commitment than signing an employment contract or saying I love you for the first time. The beginning to a common but also shared experience of Hong Kong domestic life.
2. Two kinds of Octopus users
In my world, there are two kinds of Hong Kong people: those who top up their Octopus card with about $100 at a time, and those who put in $500 or use automatic add-value services. People who I see as well-adjusted adults, usually, fall into the latter group. They take good care of themselves and know what they want in life. That ANNOYING moment where you hurry to the MTR gate only to hear a harsh-sounding DOOT and find your Octopus card empty of money? It doesn’t happen to them.
I am one of those people who only tops up her Octopus card with $100 installments. This group of people, I’ve noticed, are usually more careful about their spending, less willing to make commitments, or just tend to lose things more often. Seeing how fast my money can just doot away is also very humbling. It scares me into spending more cautiously.
Deep down, I think of $100 top-ups as a sign that I’m not adulting properly. Maybe it’s because my parents, for as long as I’ve known them, have never worried about their Octopuses running out of money. Which kind of Octopus user are you?
3. What I’m reading
Why Do We Teach Girls That It’s Cute to Be Scared? By Caroline Paul.
“When a girl learns that the chance of skinning her knee is an acceptable reason not to attempt the fire pole, she learns to avoid activities outside her comfort zone. Soon many situations are considered too scary, when in fact they are simply exhilarating and unknown. Fear becomes a go-to feminine trait, something girls are expected to feel and express at will.”