Tonight I learnt that the price of a Singaporean’s rage is seventy dollars.
My bicycle tire hit a pebble that flew and scratched a car. The driver demanded a compensation, which I turned down. He called the police. I eventually settled for seventy dollars.
I had a tough time dealing with Mr Lim. No. I’ll just call him Seventy-Dollars Guy because he simply deserves better. I tried negotiating with Seventy-Dollars Guy, but to no avail. He turned it into a shouting match. Concluding that all that he wanted was money, I blatantly stated that fact before his partner shushed us, so that the police could intervene.
Calling the police seems to be the action taken by Seventy-Dollars guy when he found that his heavy-handed approach was going nowhere. It seems like the men in blue is always the solution to everything we face here in our city state. Perhaps he thought by calling the police everything will turn out in his favour. The police adopted the role of mediators, which was initially filled by his partner.
In retrospect, Seventy-Dollars Guy is the emblem of what is wrong with the Singaporean mentality. Apart from calling in the police, he threatened to sue me, and was unhappy to the point of becoming a kid. A kid who didn’t get his ice cream. Hardball tactics tend to be the first stance one typically adopts here, but only works if you’re someone like our late Lee Kuan Yew. I think this strategy tends to be adopted because lawsuits enacted by our policymakers are widely publicised, and have become a policy in itself.
If Seventy-Dollars Guy had been nice instead of being mean, I wouldn’t mind settling for what he wanted - a hundered to hundred and fifty dollars. When I initially agreed to settle with him for a hundred, he demanded to bring him the hundred dollars immediately. Imagine that kid who didn’t get his ice cream, and wanted his parents to buy him an ice cream now. Yes, anger could turn a grown man into an angry kid.
Seventy-Dollars Guy showed how shallow and superficial one could be, taking into account that Singapore cars are insanely expensive due to the various taxes imposed. The difference between the price of his car and my bicycle probably got to his head. I feel motivated to call him a bully in this regard. Then, that would make me a victim. I am not succumbing myself to this dichotomy.
I didn’t want to play the victim card because poetic justice had to be delivered. So, I calmed the fuck down and held the fort. Seventy-dollars guy continued ramming the negotiation table like a brat would. His partner was level headed at first, but gave into his antics with appeals for compensation. Like, “If you broke something in a shop, you would pay for it. Right?” and “If your car was scratched, you would want a compensation too. Right?”
Compensation, at that time, is a dirty word. Whatever money I was to pay them was out of goodwill as part of a friendly settlement, even though the situation was otherwise. The police mentioned that I didn’t have to pay them immediately, and advised that I could refer them to a car workshop of my choosing. However, I sensed that they were growing impatient. Seventy-Dollars Guy wanted to go home badly because he’s tired.
I was acutely aware that Seventy-Dollars Guy thought he could settle this whole situation by being nasty. He mentioned he had encountered accidents before, and settlements were reached swiftly. Delaying his time was purely intentional, and he perceived it as a nuisance. Fortunately, it wasn’t to the extent of public nuisance, which is against the law. If only he had been nice, and had dealt with the matter cordially. He didn’t.
Cordial wasn’t that sweet drink I received after I handed to him the money. He wanted to jet off the moment I gave him the moeny, thus earning him the title of Seventy-Dollars Guy. Not even a handshake, because he feels right the entire time. Handing him the money was a cold gesture, one that made me lose faith in the humanity of Singaporeans. If money could tame an angry countrymen, then our souls must be as hollow as his white automobile.
At best, I uncovered his unsavoury demeanour to his partner. It was an unintended consequence, so use that to buy yourselves a nice dinner. The least I have is a price to place on a typical Singaporean’s rage.