04 October 2009

The Strangers We Meet Everyday

One of my favorite songs by Cantopop singer Sam Hui is 天才與白痴 . It can be loosely translated as Geniuses and Idiots, although the movie by the same name is called The Last Message. Such is the usual case with movie titles translated from Chinese to English, or vice versa - the original meaning does not necessarily stick. But I digress.

A great play on words, the song is mostly about the many types of people in this world. You can not always tell who is dumb or who is smart. The first two lines of the song go

呢個世界上 有精仔 有懵仔 有叻仔 散仔 賭仔 重有戇居仔

有衰仔 有好仔 反骨仔 癲仔 蠢仔 重弊過敗家仔

Still, this past Friday I came across two different people and I am pretty sure which one is an ignoramus.

After picking up my son, niece, and nephew from school, I treated them to Italian ices at the store near the school. Nephew got his treat first then my son accidentally knocked the cup onto the ground. Nephew was very upset and started to cry, even though I told him I would buy him another one. The Ice Cream Man noticed the commotion and told Nephew that he would scoop him another one. When it was time to pay, I was ready to pay for the extra scoop but the Ice Cream Man didn't charge me for it. Maybe he was the owner and was business-savvy enough to know not to nickel-and-dime every customer. Maybe he just knows it's good business to give back a little some time to build loyalty. Whatever the case, he won my approval and although with the cool weather fast approaching he may close down for the season soon, I will no doubt patronize the place again and again in the future.

At dinner time, I had a much less pleasant experience. I went to dinner at Popeye's Fried Chicken with a big group, something like eleven people. The place was crowded and we only had a 4-people table to squeeze 6 kids in. The adults had to stand or sit at some other tables. Right next to our kids table there was a man, all by himself at a 4-people table. He even had a plastic bag on the seat next to him so he actually took up 2 seats out of 4. We were right in front of him and he could not have possibly not seen us. He made no attempt at moving a table back to the 2-people table. One of the adults in my group eventually asked him if she could sit opposite him and he didn't object. Yet he still made no effort to move. Maybe in his culture, wherever he was from, sharing tables at restaurant is to be expected. But if he was a considerate person, he would have moved away and let us have his table. Some people are just plain clueless.

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