Monday, August 08, 2005

Bus 172

I recall a time some time back during my army days when I was taking bus 172 in the wee hours of the morning along the Tengah Airbase route towards Boon Lay. The bus was (as usual) sardine-packed, and I was squeezing with the other NSF-sardines near the front door.

Everyone was kinda sleepy and grouchy at having to wake up so early to work - everyone should know the feeling.

What made the situation memorable was that a Mr. Warrant Officer - who squeezed with me near the front door - when he got off at the Tengah Airbase bus stop, waved his umbrella (like a rabied old lady) at the bus driver and shouted "I shall COMPLAIN to TIBs about this bus being overcrowded!" in similar words.

I was quite taken aback by his actions. What prompted such actions was quite obvious - extreme discomforts from squeezing in a crowded bus. But what were the underlying reasons that motivated such actions? Where was he coming from?

1. Was he simply pissed because HE had to stand and squeeze with the crowd? Would he have not opened his mouth like the majority, if he had the chance to be happily seated among some of the much prized seats? This might qualify him to be a self-centered person, acting on his own selfish reasons.

2. Or was he pissed because MOST PEOPLE had to stand and squeeze? That he was feeling TIBs should do a better job at allocating buses for the peak commuting period? That he was feeling injustice done to the general public commuters here? This will qualify him to be a civic-minded person, acting for the good of the general public.

3. Or was he simply a quarrelsome person who likes to complain at everything and anything? He would be instantly dismissed as extraneous.

In any of the above circumstances, he had done a service to the public - to point out the inadequacy of the bus services along this route. He had done better than all the other passengers in the bus who simply suffered in silence (plus extra confinement! ==> [SISPEC]) and/or try to fight among themselves for space in the limited size bus and getting irritated at each other. Non-constructive measures, in any case.

In essence, it is - in some cases such as this - advantageous to act rather than to be passive like most other people, no matter what motivates the action.

The situation along Jalan Bahar was alleviated soon after, much to the delight of everyone, including those who thought Mr. Warrant Officer to be stepping out of line when he made the boisterous comment.

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