The Night Shift: Washing cars while you sleep
Most people call it a day when night falls, but some start work only then. In the last of a three-part series, HARIZ BAHARUDIN (firstname.lastname@example.org) speaks to those who slog while others sleep
Work starts at 11pm for car washer Jaafar Karjon, who turns up fresh-faced at the Caltex petrol kiosk along Alexandra Road five days a week.
The night shift supervisor at Amaze Carcare Services has been working the 11pm to 6am shift for almost a year.
Mr Jaafar, 39, a Malaysian, tells The New Paper on Sunday: "It sounds a bit funny, but what I enjoy the most about the night shift are the lights at night."
He adds: "People are so much nicer at night. When they are not in a rush, everyone is friendlier."
Mr Jaafar leads a team of five to wash approximately 120 cars every night.
Amaze Carcare Services operates at five Caltex petrol kiosks, but Mr Jaafar says the service at Alexandra is one of the busiest because of its central location.
All types of cars come to the petrol kiosk, and Mr Jaafar says he has "washed every kind of car possible".
He says: "We have many regular customers who always come back to have their cars washed by us."
No car is spared from the dirt on the roads, and Mr Jaafar has worked on some of the most expensive sports cars around.
He says that sometimes, the owners of these sports cars are actually the nicest customers.
"You would think that people who drive Lamborghinis or BMWs would be the proudest, but I find that they can be kind," says Mr Jaafar.
"Some even buy us tea or prata when they are on their way home after supper. It's always a pleasant surprise."
As Mr Jaafar does not have a home here, his employers provide him with a rented room in an HDB flat in Bukit Batok.
He gets two days off a week, which he spends playing badminton with the new friends he has made near where he lives.
The journey to and from work takes about an hour each way, and he takes a bus that takes him right to the petrol kiosk.
Although this means that he gets home only at 7am, Mr Jaafar has got used to that. He even looks forward to this time of the day.
Says Mr Jaafar: "When I finish work, and I see every one heading out to start their day, I like to think about what their lives are like. They must all have families whom they are working hard to care for."
His own family is back in Ipoh, a 1½-hour flight away.
Every three months, Mr Jaafar makes a trip back to visit his wife and three young children.
He spends all of his annual leave on these trips home.
When asked about his family, Mr Jaafar's smile disappears for while as he says: "I miss them. Not a single day goes by that I do not think of them.
"But I know that working here is what's best for them."
He adds with a smile: "It makes going back to meet them much more special."
"You would think that people who drive Lamborghinis or BMWs would be the proudest, but I find that they can be kind."
- Car washer Jaafar Karjon