Kita Prihatin: Trauma from job loss gives way to calluses, satisfaction

Nazira Azenan (left)  and Zareq Akhtar Zulkepli showing their car  detailing equipment at  Ketzz Detailing in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, on Friday.  PIC BY HAIRUL ANUAR RAHIM   Nazira Azenan (left) and Zareq Akhtar Zulkepli showing their car detailing equipment at Ketzz Detailing in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, on Friday. PIC BY HAIRUL ANUAR RAHIM

KUALA LUMPUR: The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge effect on the aviation industry, with many workers losing their jobs.

Despite this, a couple who lost their jobs as a steward and stewardess six months ago, and an airline pilot who was forced to go on unpaid leave for a year, are soldiering on.

Refusing to back down from any challenge, they have instead taken a leap of faith by trying new things to survive.

Ex-stewardess Nazira Azenan, 32, and her husband and ex-steward, Zareq Akhtar Zulkepli, 36, have gone from flying to detailing cars. It was the biggest career transition they had ever faced.

“I received the news one night in March. The company I used to work for did not renew my contract,” said Nazira.

“Not long after that, my husband, who worked for a different airline, also did not have his contract renewed.

“It was the worst night of my life. I felt numb when we found out about the devastating news. I cried. I felt angry and other feelings. It took me over a week to process what was going on.

“But in time, with the support of our friends and family, my husband and I decided to do what we’ve been wanting to do all along — start a business.”

The couple, who married two years ago, said they initially thought of opening a cafe, but they took a risk by opening a car detailing shop called Ketzz Detailing in Cheras, due to Zareq’s passion for vehicles.

When they opened their business in June, they had detailed 36 cars with their bare hands in the first month. Once they could afford to buy equipment, they bought the necessary machinery.

“Our first customer was a teacher from Rawang. When we received payment after having detailing the car, I was so happy as it was our hard-earned money after going through the hardship.

“Even when my hands developed calluses, I felt satisfied to see the end product from our efforts,” Nazira said.

Zareq said initially he was hesitant to put high price tags on their services, but he later learnt how to do pricing based on his customers’ feedback.

“Soon after Malaysians were allowed to do interstate travels, we went to as far as Penang and back to detail cars.

“We were told by a few customers that we charging too low. We decided to adjust our pricing soon after.”

The best part of doing business, Zareq said, was meeting good-hearted people.

“When we worked on flights, we met different characters every day. We understood that not everybody could afford to fly.

“So at the beginning of our business, I was hesitant to put the prices of our services as I was worried that they might be too high, especially considering that we are new in the market.

“Along the way, I’ve met many people who helped us. We learnt that our country is filled with good-hearted people, with very few bad apples.”

Zareq said he was over the moon when his and his wife’s names were mentioned by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin during the announcement of the Kita Prihatin Supplementary Initiative Package (Kita Prihatin) on Wednesday.

Muhyiddin had acknowledged them as among those who were working hard to make ends meet during the pandemic.

“We were working when one of our friends called and told us ‘hey, the prime minister mentioned your names!’.

“I thought he was bluffing.

“We saw the televised speech during a re-run that night. My wife was the happiest,” Zareq said adding that Nazira was an admirer of Muhyiddin’s leadership.

Meanwhile, pilot-turned-FoodPanda rider, Captain Khairul Anwar Ajid, 40, was also happy when his name was mentioned by Muhyiddin in the speech.

Captain Khairul Anwar AjidCaptain Khairul Anwar Ajid

Khairul is putting his nine years of experiences flying passenger airplanes to good use.

“I stopped getting my income since April. Can you imagine how it feels like when you have no income coming in after 20 years of working?

“Although I am still employed, it is a sad moment when I had to take unpaid leave over the voluntary separation scheme. My family is running on savings now. We have bills to pay. That’s when I decided to become an e-hailing rider,” the father of an eight-year-old girl told the New Sunday Times.

Khairul said although pilots were trained not to choke under pressure, he still found himself trying to cope with the financial stress.

“But now, it’s a different kind of stress, and I understand if some people choke under this pressure. All of us have families and bills to pay. This is a whole different level of pressure,” he said.

Sharing the same feelings with Nazira and Razeq, Khairul said he would return to the aviation industry in a heartbeat if the opportunity came around.

By Farah Solhi.

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