austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Weary strangers' faces show their sympathy

Man, as you get older it feels like Subaru Fondling Days come about every three months. They don't, of course. The endurance contest at Ngee Ann City is an annual event, in which people just try very hard to stand still and hold the palm of a hand on an assigned spot for as long as possible. Just as with last year, contestant have to stay in their designated spot with only rare and brief breaks, without food, rest, or showers, and this despite the haze or rain (which I suppose could be used to make up for the showers). Some contestants' families have been sending people down in shifts to rally support. Medical problems that can be expected for participants include fatigue, sleep deprivation, carpal tunnel syndrome, and hallucinations.

In a curious twist, the grand prize -- a Subaru plus, I imagine, the cost of its therapy to recover from being touched by dozens of strangers continuously for three days or more -- will depend on the contestant. If the winner has never been in one of the previous Endurance Touching contests then the grand prize will be a car worth S$71,000. If the winner has been through this before -- about forty of the 320 who entered have been in earlier contests-- then the grand prize will be a car worth S$90,000.

Meanwhile in the world of petty, personal oddnesses: this starts off at McDonald's, where I stopped for a soda and for an Oreo McFlurry and some time to read. It was the normal sort of early-afternoon bunch, some folks eating lunch, some kids being treated to ice cream cones or sundaes, a guy at the table next to me sipping a soda and typing on his laptop. That isn't so remarkable, but eventually I finished my snack and left my tray -- it's convention here to leave the trays, which took me a while to adjust to, but it makes the people assigned to clear trays very nervous if you clean it yourself -- and got going. The guy with the laptop immediately picked up his computer and moved to my former seat, next to the tray and empty McFlurry cup and all. My best guess is he was looking for a better wireless signal. A considerably more mediocre guess is he collects McFlurry cups.

Trivia: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1817 had a population of about six thousand and over 250 factories. Source: Coal: A Human History, Barbara Freese.

Currently Reading: Tales to Astonish: Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and the American Comic Book Revolution, Ronin Ro.


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