I think I was just on my 2nd month in Singapore when I first encountered this sign at a cafe:
Being the newbie, noob foreigner that I was, I was thrown off.
No studying allowed during peak hours? How exactly does that work? Are they going to kick students out of the premises if they see them studying? And why aren’t they allowed to do so anyway? What’s up with this cafe being against students studying during peak hours?
So I asked around and the answers I got traced back to a deep-rooted issue.
Students get extremely pressured to study hard because of educational requirements and standards — students find their own comfortable spots to study to be able to efficiently and effectively absorb lessons — students end up camping in cafes the whole day with ordering just one cup of coffee because of budget issues— cafes get low sales because of the slow turnover of customers — cafes are forced to impose the “no studying during peak hours” rule.
I also encountered a few articles online about it:
From educational pressures to seat-hogging issues. I was beginning to see the bigger picture.
From a clueless foreigner’s perspective, it was another cultural difference I had to learn and adjust to, especially coming from a place like Manila where this was a common practice— to hang in a cafe (and hog at least 3 tables with 6 seats) the whole day and night with ordering just a cup of coffee. I would know. My friends and I would stay at cafes for at least 8 hours when we were studying for our law and accounting subjects during our days in the university.
Thinking about it now, this could be one of those overlooked system and disciplinary issues that seem petty at first but eventually snowball to bigger and pressing issues.
I’m becoming more aware why Manila is Manila and Singapore is Singapore. Just sayin’.
So anyway, as it turns out, other cafes and restaurants have the same sign but with different ways of saying it.
The Copywriter in me suddenly gave me a nudge.
Just a thought. What is the best way to say it? Quite tricky, yeah. To say it the least rude, most polite, and most effective way possible.
Maybe that’s why I got thrown off when I first read it.
What do you think? Which cafe/restaurant was the friendliest?
How would you say it? Or do it?
Hmmmm.. This could be a campaign altogether.
Writer | Solo Traveler