Sometimes I wonder if there is something wrong with my smartphone.
For over two months now, my handset has rarely rung. I’ve even started taking calls from those with phone numbers starting with “3” – usually some guy offering loans – for fear of missing any important business calls.
These days seem like the worst time since I started my freelance career six years ago, the eve of the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Around this time last year, I had my most productive period. I had a number of clients needing my services and I hardly had time to sleep. These days, I’ve been taking long afternoon naps.
Having gone through three months of a terrible summer, I’ve started having that sullen feeling again, like the one I had right after the 9/11 attacks 18 years ago.
What our tourist-deprived business sector is now experiencing is worse than during the SARS outbreak in 2003 and the Occupy protests in 2014, according to some government officials and industry players.
To make matters even worse, the current unrest has already lasted longer than those two landmark events, and no one – especially not Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor – has the crystal ball to know when it will end.
But I am not whining. Come to think of it, I am no different from all those retail sales clerks, tourist guides, hotel and restaurant staff, etc., who are being asked to take no-pay leaves, or are in danger of losing their jobs if the turmoil continues.
Having talked to fellow workers in the consulting and media business, I would say that the slump is broad-based. Some of my corporate clients are almost apologetic for not being able to throw some business my way, but we’re all in the same boat: they’re not likely to have any special events or activities before October, and hopefully, the situation will improve by then.
But how will the business situation improve if everyone is in a bad mood?
The feel-good factor is important when it comes to consumption. But how could anyone feel good when all we watch on TV are the never-ending scenes of violence in the streets, the MTR stations, the airport, and everywhere else?
Sometimes I feel my job is no different from that of a massage therapist. I’m just trying to make my clients and readers happy. And it’s perfectly understandable if my clients don’t want to be entertained these days.
Let’s just look at the brighter side of life. Take going to your favorite restaurant for instance. Before you’d be lucky to get a booking at lunch or dinner time. These days, booking isn’t even required; you just walk in and seats are almost always available. Prices have gone down, too.
I’m not in the mood to eat out, however. Especially on a weekend.
Still, let’s count our blessings. Remember, there is always a price to pay. Buying myself a new iPhone 11 might be able to lift my spirits.
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