Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Angry of Hong Kong

I was walking down Stanley Street, feeling a bit put out because there was a cooked dinner waiting for me at home, stopping me from going out and splurging on a burger and fries. Damn that quality homemade food! A man walking toward me suddenly turned and told the woman behind him to "get out my f---ing face".

It's been raining today, and I think her umbrella had bumped into his, but this seemed a disproportionate reaction to a minor collision. Plus he was grammatically incorrect; as my dear old history teacher Mrs Jones would have taken pains to point out, he should have told her to f---ing well get out of his face.*

I stopped to see what would happen next. The man was short, white and Englishish1 and could have been described as 'cuddly', if he wasn't so cross.

I don't know, maybe he was cross because all day long people had been saying how cuddly he was.

The woman was slight; she looked like she was either Indian, Indonesian or from somewhere else in South East Asia2. She paused and looked at the angry man, considered things.

"F--- you" she said. A fair comment, under the circumstances.

I stood still, waiting to see what would happen next. Other passers-by, attracted by the swearing like bees to nectar, paused to watch. At 6:30, Stanley Street was hardly packed, but there were a few of us.

"No, f--- you" said the man.

There was another uncomfortable pause, and then he stormed off up the street. And that was that.

Being part of the shrinking minority of gweilo in Hong Kong, I do think we shouldn't be rude to other people unless they deserve it. Our pasty skin and chubby bodies make us stand out amongst the more etiolated Asians, and every time we play up to the nineteenth century stereotype of the colonial chap who doesn't care a fig for the natives, it does everyone a disservice.

Or to put it another way, I would rather others didn't inspire gweilo-hatred, on the basis that I might end up getting the worst of an irate chap with a chopper one day, and if fat men with umbrellas had had more patience, offence wouldn't have been given. Not to mention men in sports wear on the tram at Happy Valley, randomly yelling "looking for business?" and sniggering as the tram passes any pedestrian they deem to be of prostitute status.3

It's a bit hypocritical; I get angry from time to time when I'm jostled on the MTR by people who think shoving is equivalent to language. But there's no need to bellow rudeness on the street.

Although I suppose I don't know the full story. Maybe she'd been following him all afternoon, nudging his umbrella every five minutes. Maybe the rage had slowly built up from this continual annoyance, until he snapped. Anyone in his position would have taken umbrage, and rightfully so, at this harridan of an umbrella-nudger.

Or maybe not. We could utilise Occam's Razor and see if the more complicated, misogynist account in which an evil witch / typical bloody woman followed our innocent bloke around all day, providing slight annoyance with her interference in his umbrella until he snapped, would be a more likely tale than him just have a case of the Angry, but let's keep things simple here.

A gentleman never gives offence unknowingly, and if you disagree, stick an umbrella up your arse.

* I wouldn't normally censor myself, but I'm trying to not be rude today. Not so bothered about splitting infinitives though.
1 that's not a typo; it means "bearing at least some resemblance in manner, bearing or appearance to somebody who might be English". No, really.
2 And since we're in Hong Kong and those countries make up at least a quarter of the world's population, I figure there's a fair chance I've identified her ethnicity.
3 See? I didn't mention those two fine fellows that I stood next to on the tram the other week.4
4 Oh. I suppose I just did.


Anonymous said...

Are you sure you hadn't stumbled into Italy by any chance? Random verbal abuse, constant pushing and shoving, as well as the assumption that any woman on her own outside the home must be gagging for it, are the staples of stranger communication here...

Mr Cushtie said...

I would concur with that point, but neither of them were speaking Foreign. So I was rather confused about whether I was in Hong Kong at all, or back in dear old Blighty.

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