terse & at large

GRRRRR. Arrrgh. And sometimes a travel log.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Instant Solidarity

I was having lunch with the Mother, Grandmother and my brother in a mid-priced Vietnamese restaurant yesterday. The place was quite okay for noon on a Saturday: four tables filled inside the restaurant and one ang-moh sitting al fresco in the heat (so you know where the people with brains are).

The conversation was muted, as well it should be in a confined, quiet, air-conditioned setting. Of course, it was too good to last.

I can't decide which is worse:

1. Someone letting his/ her mobile phone ring for ages before answering it.

2. Someone who carries a conversation on a phone at a decibel level that would make everyone within earshot deaf in about two months, if she kept it up constantly.

3. Someone discussing a problem with her bowels/ colon where other people are having food.

4. Someone who willingly comes into a mid-priced Vietnamese restaurant (and let's face it, there aren't too many cheap Vietnamese eateries in Singapore -- a meal will cost you at least ten bucks if you're a small eater), loudly tells the waitress that 'everything is too expensive' and then orders a $3.50 bowl of plain noodles.

5. Someone who did all of the above.

First of all, the ringing got to everyone's nerves because it went on for far too long. Look, I do it sometimes, hesitate a little to glance at the caller id so I'd know who was calling, but to hesitate for what felt like thirty seconds? That's ridiculous. Anyway, it was also a cutesy, irritating ringtone at Level 6 (loudest volume), which made it worse.

Then the loud conversation began. Immediately everyone else (I shit you not) stopped in the midst of their own conversations and eating, bobbed their heads up and over to the woman on the phone. We couldn't have choreographed it better. Even my grandmother who is partially deaf looked up and over at the offending troglodyte.

The table next to hers was the one that suffered the most I guess. Their conversation, which had been rather animated (but muted -- important factoid) before the phone call, was suddenly put on hold and they were looking around uncomfortably. And more than one of us stopped eating when the details of a colon problem surfaced. One of the guys at the table looked directly at me and I shrugged, and at that moment -- [insert title here]. He smiled weakly and rolled his eyes.

And the woman? Completely oblivious.

Her phone call lasted several minutes (at least one and a half songs' worth). And when she was done, there was silence in the restaurant you could cut with a knife.

It was a long while before conversation returned.

I'm just thinking: we have all these toys to [supposedly] make our lives better, more convenient, and all that, but we still can't teach people to use these toys responsibly? I mean, bad enough that your phone rings during a movie, but you carry on with the conversation? Loudly? When the hell did people here learn to be such louts?

Hell, I'm embarrassed when my phone beeps when I'm in a cab -- I usually switch the ring/ beep tone to a lower setting so it doesn't become too irritating for the cabbie, especially when I'm expecting a lot of messaging back and forth.

Consideration! For a cabbie? Inconceivable! But I do it.

People will still answer phone calls in the movie hall, talk loudly during a movie, and talk about disgusting things that are happening to their bodies in a fairly crowded restaurant. And they get annoyed when they're told off.

What the fuck?


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