Blooming hard work has its rewards

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 February, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 February, 2004, 12:00am

The people who helped Romeos to woo their Juliets yesterday will be taking a well-earned rest today after recent days - and nights - of non-stop work.

'I haven't slept yet,' said transport company owner Raymond Cheng at 7.30am yesterday, in between shouting instructions to his drivers, whose vans were filled with roses, chocolates and stuffed toys to be delivered across Hong Kong.

'There's usually some left over. I'll pick the best of what's left for my wife ... You know what they say - the fruit seller won't pick the best fruits himself.'

Nearby, a man sat on a folded stool slipping white-mesh casings over rose blossoms. 'What time did I start? I haven't slept,' he replied grumpily.

An officer from the Food, Environment and Health Department walked by and told him to move off the street.

'They're not allowed to put things out on the pavement and road,' the officer said. 'But we realise it's a special day for them and so we're not as strict as we normally are ... but some drivers and pedestrians do complain that they get in the way.'

Asked whether he would be taking a bunch of flowers home when he finished work, the officer replied: 'No, not this year. My wife tells me not to. She says she'd rather we spent the money on a good meal instead.'

Ken Leung, 40, a flower shop owner, also said he would be going for a meal when he finished work. 'It's very busy - we probably won't finish till about 10 or 11pm.

'The flower shop is named after my wife, Cindy, she's the main power behind the business - I just do all the talking.

'My wife is the one who puts together the bunches of flowers. She puts a lot of time and effort into each arrangement, depending on the customer's requirements. Each bunch is special and unique, so it's not like things made by machines,' Mr Leung said.

The fact Valentine's Day fell on a Saturday this year meant there were about 30 per cent fewer flowers to be delivered, he said.

'People have put their orders in and will pick them up themselves because they don't have to work in the afternoon,' he said.

'I don't need to hire a delivery company because I have asked my friends and relatives to help. I also have the friends of my children, nieces and nephews for the day.'

One of the 20 or so friends and relatives who turned up to help was Alfin Lire, 16, who said he would use the money he earned to buy a shoulder bag for his girlfriend, Ivy.

'It costs about $200. She picked it herself,' he said, surrounded by smirking school friends.