Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What happened to simple common courtesy nowadays?

I commute to work by public transport. I ride the MRT from my home at Bukit Batok to my workplace at Boon Lay at least 5 days a week.

For the past few years, the train operators have tried to make those seats nearest the exits available for those in real need of it, i.e. pregnant ladies, the elderly or physically disabled.
Beginning with the "Please give up this seat to people who need it" to the "Priority Seat" to the latest and more forceful "Reserved Seating".

Alas, I don't see that the latest concept by the train operators is any different from the previous, meaning its effectiveness is just as suspect. The problem from my personal perspective is that commuters (ugly singaporeans?) have not reached that level of graciousness to understand what Priority or Reserved means.

Most of the time you will notice the rush and the beeline straight for those seats, heck care the signs. The next thing they do is pretend to sleep, put on their MP3 or text on their mobiles till they get off, oblivious to all around them

Hey, when you go to restaurant and see a Reserved sign, you don't plonk yourself down but look for another table! So what's the difference here? In Japan, Korea or Canada, you will see able bodied passengers standing beside the empty seat, knowing that it is 'reserved' for the needy. Their train culture has reached a level of maturity that had been infused into their civic consciousness.

While I am all for the idea for giving up seats for those who need them, simply putting up 'another campaign' signage is ineffective in the absence of proper commuter education. When, or if ever, we can reach an acceptable level of graciousness, then even the concept of reserved seats become redundant. Every seat in the cabin will be offered up for any one who needs it! Sadly, that'll be the day, which probably will not be in my lifetime.

The passenger train culture here has a long long way to go to reach first world standard. Today we gripe about not giving way, not moving inside, eating on board, not being courteous, etc. Yet we are the ones who need to make the first move. Even shaming individuals on public forums like Stomp website will do little to improve the situation without effort from both the public and the operators. In our nanny state, I guess we are all waiting for someone else to set the rules and tell us how to behave even for such minor courtesies. Sigh.

Have a look at this latest attempt by the train operators, which I personalLy feel is real crass. Message is ok but the presentation sucks. Of all people, snot picking PCK as an example of graciousness. What a joke and you expect people to listen to his message?

I am getting old and grouchy. If one day you see me hobbling into the train, I hope there's a seat reserved for me.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Embarassing moments

Why does it always have to happen when I am out on those rare few occasions with the Missus??
It simply reinforces my wife's notions about hating to go out together because she thinks I ALWAYS embarrass her!

Just last Wednesday, on my day off, I was to accompany her to buy some groceries.
Only a short walk to the Mall across the road and what happens?
I just had to put my tee-shirt on inside-out!
"Can't stand you! You're really getting senile!" blurted the Missus.
And of course, this led to more recollections to berate me in public over this . Bla bla bla....

And the one that she will never never ever let me forget is The Classic tale of public embarrassing moments.

It happened about a year ago, we were shopping at Takashimaya.
Despite my phobia about using public toilets, the call of nature was too strong to hold back.

I always feel queasy about using the public loos, so I went about with the ritual of wiping and then making a seat cover out of the toilet roll. Don't you all do that? Hmm, I wonder.

Anyway, business done, flushed, and had my pants back on. Relived and back to shopping, walking round the stores. Then, horrors of horrors, about 10 minutes later my wife shrieked out that I had grown a white tail.

A length of toilet roll tissue was trailing out from my pants. This must have had caught my belt while I was putting on my pants. Thus I was walking around with a tail which I had not noticed! Safe to say that put an abrupt end to the shopping. And it just had to be with the wife again!

Tonight, I will be again taking my son and wife out. My son is flying off to Cambridge for further studies. Just hope nothing embarrassing happens while at the airport. Come back again, I'll let you know.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Press got it wrong

Last Sunday, one of my co-workers caught a shoplifter at the store where I work. We detained the shoplifter in our store office pending the arrival of the police.

During his short detention, he pleaded with us for release. Claimed he was going to make payment but couldn't find the cashier, etc, etc. In desperation, he took out a cutter and threatened to slash his wrist if we didn't release him or let him make payment. Sensing imminent danger, my store manager agreed to let him make payment at the cashier. This was a ruse to buy time while we called for the Mall security.

As luck would have it, there was a long queue at the cashier point at that moment and the alleged shoplifter obediently joined the queue! Just as he reached the front of the queue, mall security personnel arrived and he was yet again detained once more.

His mother suddenly appeared on the scene and started pleading with us to release her son. To the extent of kneeling, crying and begging, all right in front of customers waiting at the cashier point. Thus, I asked the security person to escort the couple to the office.

On the way to the office, the mother became highly emotional. Wailing and pleading and even feigning an epileptic seizure and started to shiver and shudder. But we could all see it was very obvious 'drama' on her part. To convince us of her act, she even pretended to faint and sprawl flat on her back.

It was at this very moment that an unknown customer in the store took a photograph of the scene.
The photo was submitted to the Chinese tabloids and we became instant celebrities the following day! Loosely translated, the blurb in the tabloid said.... "a woman was caught shoplifting...she became very agitated and fainted...and was helped by a customer onto the sofa to recover.."
In reality the 'customer helping her' was the son, the real culprit.

The woman's dramatics came to an abrupt stop the moment the police turned up, ha ha.
The shoplifter was questioned by the police and they found that he had lifted more items from other shops in the mall earlier. These included Levi's, shirts, belts and accessories, all stashed in his haversack.

To me, I would think that the mother and son worked as a team, with the mother being the lookout.

A week earlier, the same vigilant staff, Kerk, had caught another shoplifter trying to steal a hard disk drive. He also pleaded for mercy and Kerk relented and made the shoplifter pay for the item.

Unbelievably, this shoplifter had the audacity to return about 2 hours later to claim a refund for the purchase! Of cos, not knowing about the shoplifting attempt, the cashiers gave him a full refund according to the company's policy.

The lesson we learned from the incident was that we had to be firm with all adult shoplifters caught. No mercy will be shown.

Something to say

Saturday, June 20th 2009.

I have another blog at http://fujiwara-kankoo.blogspot.com. That started from the prompting of my ex-colleague Dawn, who is now happily an SIA girl. On her urging I started to blog.."it's very easy" she said... and that was exactly 2 years ago in July 2007.

Initially, I really didn't know what to write. But finally decided to blog about my previous travels or anything to do with traveling which I love. I named it after my Japanese friend Aki Fujiwara, who also has a mania for travel.

Aki Fujiwara

Over the past 2 years, I penned about 50 anecdotes on that site. Along the way, there were many times when I wanted to say something that had nothing to do with travel. But I felt that it was inappropriate to put it into that site, for example, that incident with the burger at the mall (May 2009).

Then this morning, I said to myself, why not just do another blog?
So thus, Quispiam Loquor was born.

This blog site will contain my personal thoughts and opinions.
I'd be most happy for you to join me in my blog by adding in your comments.
I hope you will return here once in a while to read my ramblings. Enjoy.

best regards
James Tann