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Thursday, January 27, 2011

SINGAPORE - the smouldering pot!!

At 5pm in the evening, on a week day, coming up to Chinese New Year.  You're (me really) in a mild mood ... content ...and still have errands to run. So off you go, unsuspecting and innocent...  or should I say oblivious to the "world" around you.
Tra la la la la ... ah here's a taxi ... smiling at the driver I tell him where to take me.
"huh! waht ah! you go there now for what??" he barks at him, like a rottweiler who has just been snubbed by a bitch.
"Why ahh friend? Is the traffic bad? Never mind lah ... I pay you anyway. But I need to go there lah", I meekly reply, not wanting to upset this fellow or to spoil my evening.  Really, what's the point of arguing with a taxi driver for goodness sake. I reckoned he's just probably had a bad day; and I'm not going to add to it.

"Waaah! You don know hahh, Chinese New Year kamming (** this is not a spelling error) ahhh,  so mannny karrs, manny manny peple orrr... haiii yaaa.... so troublesome oorrh."  he starts ranting off, " where, aaaaa,  in Chinatown you go where  aaaa ... north brigge load or sout brigge load side ... nikol highway or cte or ecp or what aaaaa!!"
I sat quietly in the back and thanked God that I always sat in the back . Today, I definately felt safer in the back.

He went on with his monologue, I guess, he just wanted to moan about something, and I must have looked harmless enough,  and not lunatic enough to shout back at him and that's probably why he kept going on.
"Cann nott lah, go cte now, sure busy one!  Aiyahhhhh.... I go ecp lah ... traffic bad now lah... how you want to go there haaah.  You want or not. You want I take you go ecp lah. wan or not? huh?"
Frankly, I didnt know if this was a choice or a recommendation or a simple question... I pondered for a short moment, just to make sure he had nothing else to add, then I quickly put in my twopenneth: "whichever way you want to go my friend, all osso no problem lah. Whatever makes you happy, I dont mind lorrr"
"Ok lah, I go nickol highway, you want" he sighs at me and looks at me in a funny way through his rear view mirror, as if he's tired of me or something.  If you didn't know better, you would have thought we'd been married for 30 years and that I was his nagging wife.... **shaking my head in complete bafflment**
"ok ok you go nichol highway" I confirmed trying not to show emotion.   Usually enjoy talking to taxi drivers, they are a very informative bunch of people, full of opinions and views and they know all the latest news. I get most of the daily news from taxi drivers, with an aside too. To most of my foreign friends I sing the praises of Singapore taxi drivers : "they're the best in the world I tell you".   Seriously, I do like Singapore taxi drivers, however, every once in a while one like this one pops up out of the blue and it really takes you off guard.  

The rest of my shopping trip goes off well, no hiccups, as such but for one thing.  This is the thing that upsets me the most, and has a tendency to make me want to retaliate, though I do practise a lot of self control.
What is it? you ask. It's rudeness and disregard for others.

As much as 80% of young Singaporeans are downright RUDE!! Some older folk too, are rude, about 65% of them. Their rudeness shows in crowded spaces and crowded malls, especially amongst the young.  They walk around with invincible blindfolds, and on top of that, they're usually talking to their mates, or are on the phone or listening to ipods or whatever, and thus are on another level altogether.  No spatial awareness what so ever!  They are quite happy to walk right into you and not bother to apologise.  They don't give way, let alone notice you coming unless you are 1cm away from their noses; then they look surprised, as if to say : how did you get on my planet.
I have been to Tokyo, New York, London, Paris and Mumbai and no one!  I repeat NO ONE!! bumps into you absentmindedly. And if they do by chance, they usually apologise profusely.  They seem to be able to skirt around you and respect your personal space.

Let me give you just a tiny taster of what happened at one of the lovely shops in Chinatown today.  I was standing in front of a display of shelves inside the shop, engrossed in my own thoughts and trying to make a choice, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw a young man and a young lady coming. They headed straight in front of me, well the young lady did, and her young man decided to stand right next to me.  My personal space was invaded, yes, but that's not the issue. The young lady was standing  in front of me for goodness sake!! No word of excuse me  or pardon from her, NOT even a nod of acknowledgement.   What would you do ??  huh??

"Excuse me, would you like to stand there please, then we can both look at the products" I said firmly.  Without so much as a by your leave, let alone a look. No! Nothing from her. No reaction.  She did not look at me or say anything, she just moved to the side, goes in front of her boyfriend instead, this time and went on talking away in Chinese. The silly boyfriend gets blocked now.
"Thank you" I venomously say to her... still she ignores me ... I may as well be invincible.  Never mind, I think to myself, just get on with it and make your choices and to hell with her. The ignoramus moo!
Yes, yes, I can be very patient. I know.

That was incident 2.  Ah my day is not over yet friends, there's one more yet.  Once I had done all the buying at Chinatown, I headed for another shopping centre, I needed other things too.  So I saunter off with what seemed like a hundred large and heavy bags.
Finally, I'm lucky enough to get another taxi. He was probably the brother of the first taxi driver.  When I got in and told him where I wanted to go, but he just sat there, not budging.  I thought he was going to turf me out; or maybe he was a plastic dummy.   What???? is going on today.... they're all so grumpy and weird ... is it because its Chinese New Year?? Does Chinese New Year have that kind of effect on people??  Why isn't everyone happy and feeling celebrative???    Why so stressy???
Most people will go on holiday soon and that should be a comforting thought shouldn't it?
"Traffic bad! you know!" he vomited the words at me ...
"Yes,  I know" I reply, being cautious but somewhat slightly irked by now.
"You go by nichol highway ok" I reply quickly "and be careful, got police car behind you" I said to him, as I had noticed a police car pull up behind us, feeling assured now.  I guess I was trying to 'warn' him .... hee hee...

As we drove off he started grumbling "see lah, so many cars, Chinese New Year always headache! All roads busy, cannot move" as the taxi moved easily round the traffic.  I was bemused, but kept my mouth shut and looked out the window. The view was beginning to look more interesting.
"I drop you off that place, sure I don't get customers, this time, ah, always no people at that taxi stand. No business there at this time you know" he kept on moaning and complaining.
"How to make living like this, ERP charge lah, dont know what lah, some more no customers, cannot tahan lah" he was probably talking to himself now ... certainly didnt look like he was wanting a discussion or a conversation with me.
So, I  kept looking out the window, and enjoying the ride in my head .... zzzzzzzzz
"SEEE LAH YOU!!" the yell jolted me out of my power nap ... blast it! I thought.
"Eh, my friend, I'm trying to rest lah" I cautioned him.
"you see that fellow, wan to turn right, never indicate, any old how one!!" he went off in a tangent again ....
and I nodded off yet again, really not caring about what he had to say now.

After what seemed like a lifetime or two, we finally got to my destination; the taxi stand was nearly a mile long with people queuing for taxis.
"Look my friend, you sure got customer now" I said to him, out of spite really.
"Yah lah but later, I drop off dont know where and then cannot find another customer. Always like that one" he found another excuse to moan about ... you know there's just no pleasing some people. He's the eternal pessimist.
Pay him quick and get outta there!

Went to my destination shop, found what I wanted and then some. An hour later. I'm exhausted and ready for going home, when it occurred to me that I was hungry. Really hungry.  Gotta eat.  Gotta eat Now! type of hunger.

As I was making my way towards the taxi stand and trying to decide what I could eat, I saw  a Subway.... mmmmm a nice sandwich ... yes, what a brilliant idea.  I want one.  As I glanced in, I noticed there was only one person in the queue.  Wooo hooo!!!  I'm in there fast ... hunger, you see, it needs attending to .

I waited patiently while the only one staff served the customer in front of me.  In the meantime, I stood patiently looking  at the menu board and dribbling.  Did I tell you I was hungry.... mmmm ... hungry.  It must have taken all of  7 minutes to serve the first customer, then the staff goes and answers the phone ... what!!  I felt like crying ... hungry ....
ok, stay calm, its ok... patience is a virtue... I persuade myself.  Another 2 minutes go by, and there's a  queue behind me and it is getting longer.  That's ok I'm next anyway, so hey, patience comes easy when you're next in line right.

A little chinese girl (from China) comes in from the back of the restaurant, goes straight to the customer behind me, says something to him in Chinese and proceeds to serve him, while i look on,  in absolute shock.
HELLO!!  Am I invincible? I'm 5ft 3in, as tall as the guy next to me and twice his size... how can you miss me???Dont you serve women who are not chinese looking?? Or is it because I'm older?? Maybe you don't serve older people??
Is this sexism, ageism, racialism or has it got something to do with my looks????   Am I too ugly for her???    Do I look too fat maybe???  Maybe she thinks I'm too fat and don't need to eat anything.  What???  I'm not short so there was no excuse to say she couldn't see me... I was at the top of the queue for god's sake.  I begin to hop, hop hop, hop, hop ... slowly I simmer, and my face begins to distort... now I'm becoming ugly.
Or maybe she fancied the young man behind me and that's why she went straight for him and ignored me.

As for the young man behind me was no better either. He quite  happily gave her his order; bear in mind, he knows I hadn't been served because the other only staff member was on the phone and he did see that I hadn't been served.
Why couldn't this English speaking young man, acknowledge that it was my turn not his  and correct the "waitress" and tell her to serve me first??  Why didn't he do the 'well brought up' thing??  Why didn't he show some manners?? Bring back the courtesy campaign!!!  Why didn't he show some self respect???  He could see that I was, ahead of him in the queue, for one thing, and for another, I was the "older" lady (*I have white hair to prove it).???????????????????????  show some bloody respect to your elders, you little chi chak!

To that young man, I have one thing to say: "I want to talk to your mother! Is she so busy working she forgot to teach you manners and respect!"

Frankly, at first, I was stunned, too numb to utter words. Seriously, flabbergasted.  And that's not one of my characteristic features ... oh no.   Just then, the other staff member, put the phone down and looked at me, then at his colleague and he asked her if I had been served; she replied with a nonchalant "huh? don know" - followed by a stupid expression, you know the one I mean, with the lips slightly apart, chin dropped, and eyes drooped... like a wrinkly bulldog, except that she was only in her 20s. You've seen that stupido look before. You know what I mean.
So, he looks at me and says: "Can I take your order ma'am"
"YES you can!  And it should have been me being served first.  THAT! **I point at the girl** That thing blatantly ignored me and served the person behind me first! What is this? How rude is she?" I bellowed at them both. People on the fifth floor must have heard that thunderous voice of rage.  Don't mess with a hungry woman with white hair.
"I'm sorry" the little teeny staff guy whimpers from behind the counter... hmmmm he seems to have shrunk ...
Meanwhile the female who dared to ignore me, was pretending that she wasn't there... but I can see her ... and I glare hard at her .... my eyes chucking sharp daggers through my now slit eyes ... you're not invincible to me girly. Hah!
That fellow who was behind, dared to turn to me and even ventured a meagre excuse for a smile ... it appeared to be an apology.  TOO LATE!! I gave him my best "dirty" look, and watched him cower.  Suddenly there was a gap between me and the queue.... mmmmmm.... do you think I scared them a bit ... hmmmmmm

Yes, I did get my sandwich. For every question, the male staff guy asked I would bark back my order, "Yes!", "more jalepenos", "NO Sauce!" ...  I was on a rampage in my own way....  I think they couldn't wait to get me out of the shop.
"GRRRRR!!Woorrf! Grrrrr!  Woorf!"

Now, 3 hours later, I feel calmer, I'm fed and watered and rested.  And I'm in hysterics about it all. hahahhahahhaahahah!!!!   It's rather funny really.  What an evening eh.  I'll bet a few people will have a restless night tonight ... hee hee ;-)

Hope you enjoyed your day, as much as I didn't mine ....  ;-) cheerio and here's hoping you get better service than this.
And remember a little courtesy goes a long way.... good night ;-)