When I was 18, I got my first journalist gig. An intern with a newspaper in a bright, sprawling office within the heart of the business district.

To me, it was my introduction to adulthood and working in Raffles Place in 2002 was a democratic experience. Most of us shared the same trauma of public transport in the morning and the same triumph of lunch-time options.

My favourite of the many choices was Clifford Pier. The first time a colleague suggested we eat there, I was smitten. Crowded, bustling and brimming with bum-boats, it was quay side dining for everybody.

On Thursday last week, over 10 years after those giddy days as an intern in the big city, I clambered into my brother’s car and found on the seat a stub he had absent-mindedly left there. A $20 (RM56) receipt for valet parking. Now I only ever use a valet when it comes with the precursor “FREE” so I was suitably aghast.

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