Friday, June 23, 2006

“yo, thank you, ya mutherf**ker!”

It seems that KL-ites themselves agree with the Readers' Digest's survey that the people in their city are among the world's rudest.

Readers’ Digest had conducted a survey based on 3 points:

(1) dropping papers in a busy street to see if anyone would help;
(2) checking how often shop assistants said "thank you";
(3) and counting how often someone held a door open.

Mumbai won the gold medal while KL the bronze for rudeness. And guess who’s the most courteous?

Why, it’s none other than New York City.

I wonder whether the American magazine conducted the survey in Queens and Harlem? Those residents would certainly thank you, like “yo, thank you, ya mutherf**ker, for your wallet!”

The American survey showed the rudest cities were in Asia, where eight out of nine cities tested finished in the bottom 11. If the Japanese, Koreans or Chinese were to conduct a survey, based on the following 3 points:

(1) do people bow to each other when they meet or when they take leave of each other?
(2) do people open presents in front of the person who made the gift?
(3) do young people call those who are elder than them or of their parents’ peerage by their first (personal) names?

I wonder who would end up as the rudest cities in general, and finish in the bottom 10?

I remember an incident when I was in London. While queuing up for a bus I was nearly stampeded by rushing passengers who broke from the queue to board the transport. An old English gentleman tapped me on my shoulder and apologised, saying “Sorry about those Continentals; they aren't English, you know.”

Once I was in Doncaster, visiting a shopping centre in winter. Immediately after entering the mall, I held the entrance glass door open for an elderly lady who was just behind me. But after she entered, a stream of other people just stormed in without bothering to relieve me from holding the door. Most actually avoided my eyes.

Hmmm, maybe I looked like the shopping complex official door opener? But my host, who took me there, after having a quiet giggle, dragged me away forcefully. She said I could have been there all day if I wasn’t assertive enough, as people in that town would have taken advantage of my courtesy.

One day in Jakarta I was on a packed bus to Block M (Jakarta's equivalent of PJ), when I surrendered my seat to an elderly lady - no one had bothered to do so. Some of the elderly Indon gents were amazed at my very basic act of respect and courtesy, which most Malaysians (that I have been aware of) would have also done.

It became an open conversational piece on the bus, right in front of me. My Penang partner Rahman, who's one hell of a big extrovert just so happened to be with me. He seized the opportunity for a bit of nationalistic exhibitionism, going overboard with a 10-minutes oral dissertation of Malaysian male chivalry.

He sure lapped up the admiring looks, hey Man, meant for me. But everyone was smiling in a most friendly manner at me when we disembarked at Block M, but I only returned the smiles of you-guess-who.

When I did the same act of courtesy for a (40-ish) lady in Australia, she glared at me and refused my vacated seat, saying rudely "I don't need your seat, so sit down!" After I got down at my destination, Bob, my Aussie mate revealed that some Aussie women didn't take kindly to any old fashion chivalry because they felt those men were insulting their "equality".

OK, here is the part where I think sh*t of the Readers’ Digest survey. It placed Hong Kong as the most polite Asian city, which to me is the biggest bullsh*t I have ever heard.

I had several unpleasant encounters there with rude Honkies, probably among the rudest Asians, if not the rudest. Once I tipped a waiter HK$10, and to my shock, he sneered at me before crumbling and flinging the bill on my table, and then stomping off with a huff and a puff. Apparently, HK$10 wasn't enough.

In Beijing, while I hadn’t encountered any direct rudeness, I was surprised by a young sweet looking Chinese lady who asked me why I keep saying thank you to the shop assistants who were serving me, when I had been the customer. I smiled at her (I hope, because my smile sometimes come across to women as a lecherous leer) and said “thank you for telling me, thank you.”

I think I confused her. Probably she must be thinking that bloody Malaysian bloke didn’t understand English and the meaning of the term "thank you", yes?

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