I was at a hair salon last week, when all of a sudden, a hairdresser started shouting in Mandarin. Instantly, everyone – all customers and hairdressers (including mine) stormed out of the salon like a herd of rhinos being chased by a lion.
Observing them, I got a bit worried. The thought of some horrible accident or the occurrence of a natural disaster came to mind instantly.
Puzzled, I managed to tug at a hairdresser’s sleeve, and ask, “Apa sudah jadi (What has happened)?”
“Aiyoh! DBKL sudah mari lor! Cepat-cepat pigi bayar parking! (The city council officers are here! Quickly go buy a parking ticket!)” she hurriedly replied as she flew out, joining the rest.
I turned around and realised I was the only one left in the salon. Curious, I opened the door and peeked outside – I saw rows of women queuing up at the parking machines along the street. Some had their half-coloured hair nicely wrapped up, others who were probably getting their hair washed had water dripping on their clothes and some had foamy shampoo sticking out of their heads. It was a hilarious sight, I must say.
As I returned to my seat, some of the customers and hairdressers returned as well. Their faces reflected great relief.
“Nasib baik wor DBKL belum sampai saya punya kereta (Thank God the city council officers had not reached my car yet),” a woman next to me said as she noticed me smiling to myself.
“Kalau bayar awal kan senang? (Wouldn’t it be easier if you bought the ticket earlier?),” I said, sounding somewhat naïve.
While she raised one eyebrow as if my suggestion was nonsensical, another customer explained that the city council officers came by only twice a day – once at 10.00am and again at half past three. “We pay when they come. It’s cheaper that way,” she said.
I smiled. They could afford expensive hair-colouring jobs, hair treatment and even a mani-pedi at the salon but turn into mega cheapskates when it comes to buying parking tickets for their vehicles.
But I guess they are not the only ones. Most of us are the same.
My friend Nizha once told me that while she was at a tailor’s in Klang, the same commotion erupted inside the shop – “Aiyo, seekeram parking ticket podungge. MPK kaaren vanthutaan (Quick, get your parking tickets. The city council fellas are here)!”
And my friend Sharon agreed, “Over here there are parking lots next to hawker centres. You can see people throwing down their spoons, forks and chopsticks – running to the parking machines while slurping dangling bits of noodles into their mouth at the sight of these officers.”
The truth is, our public are an indisciplined lot. We complain about everything yet we fail to take responsibility over things that matter. We want things changed yet we refuse to change ourselves.
Yes, many of us are upset by the increase in parking fees – but does that justify not paying what is due?
Likewise, many are upset over billions allegedly swindled by dishonest leaders – but does that justify us giving away RM50 “gifts” to escape a traffic summons?
Two wrongs don’t make a right.
Today, we are unhappy over many things in Malaysia. Of course, we can take our dissatisfaction to the streets and we can march in protest all we want – but if we are only able to see the faults of others and not our own, everything we fight for becomes a meaningless battle.
“Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right”
~ Franklin Roosevelt