The Big Island Theme Park we call Home

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dear Boys,

We have been to a few theme parks, The Universal Studios SingaporeLegoland Malaysia, Disneyland Hong Kong, just to name a few, so you know what a theme park is all about.

The theme of theme parks is to make money by attracting visitors, there are many attractions in it to make the visitors goes in awe and makes them want to come back again. Theme parks need to continuously upgrade their attractions to make sure visitors are not bored with the same old thing.

There are 2 distinct groups of people in these parks. The visitors, and the staffs working there. Occasionally, we will get visitors wanting to actually join the theme park as staff, and occasionally we do get staffs, who use the theme park like a visitor.

This is not too far from the reality of life we are living right now

staff signStaff only

In every Theme park, there is a ‘staff only’ door, where, obviously if you don’t work in the theme park, you don’t get to go in.

What’s behind the door?

Well, that is where the ‘hard truths’ of the reality comes in, every theme park comes to life because there are many workers, working to make the rides safe, clean the streets, wash the loos, there are also the marketing folks who design attractions, sell them so that tourists will flock to the rides.

Many, many things are happening behind the door and none of the tourists nor visitors gets to see, should see, nor want to see. This is where the employees stays and be themselves behind the scenes, This is where the staff can let down and talk about life. The employees of the theme park isn’t always going about chatty, and pretending to be magical and all that. They have real lives, and once they walk through that ‘Employees Only’ door, they can drop their image of a happy trooper, and head back to real life.

Singaporeans= Theme park Employees

I can’t be more blunt than that, I feel a sense of hollow in our society, the blank stares are everywhere. Singapore, as a land exists as a hub, a trading port for people, goods, to come and go, that’s all. We have the best Airports and Sea-Ports for a reason, it is a place where ships, brings goods, come and go. Nobody ever really stayed really. It is a way-point for transactions, and in the midst of that transaction, we make money.

Money which we use for other transactions. We use money to make more hubs, so that more visitors will come. As long as we, as a hub stays relevant, and current, people will come, we will make money, just like Disney land. As long as money is the centre of our social fabric, we will remain shallow, and our whole lives, go from deal to deal, without actually getting anything meaningful out of staying here. We live in the constant hype of the high, created by the rides and theme park attractions.

When we end our work, we leave the office, we step through our metaphorical ‘Staff-only’ door, disrobe our banker hat, doctor mask, sales person costume, and go back to real life, we go back to our screaming kids, ailing parents, rising taxes, claustrophobic train rides, and of course, our 5 inch world.

The next day, is simply another Groundhog Day. Live, Die, Repeat.

groundhog day

The Government=Theme Park Management

People gripe at the government all the time. The government is always in a damn-it-if-you-do/ damn-it-if-you-don’t duality. But honestly, the government are mostly interested in the theme park, and how to keep it running. There will always be complains from employees now and then, but as long as the employees gets paid, everyone would just bear with it.

I’m not anti-government, just so you know. Why should I? The government don’t care about me and my opinions, because the government is never personal, they are always big picture; they have to, they need to keep the entire theme park running, if the theme park closes, due to mismanagement, all the employees from top to bottom loses. The tourists? They will just go to the next theme park!

Can Singapore be less of a Theme Park?

Honestly I don’t think so. As long as Singapore remains a hub, we will always have people come and go, and those who are here, the citizens, will always face short-term socio-economic cycles. We will never have a longevity of an heritage, people will never feel that they have a part of Singapore they really have and hold, and called their own. As with all theme parks, change is the only constant, attractions will need revamp. Those specific rides we love will go away, and we will be left with only fickle memories, which will die when we die. Even those who are dead, will be dug up and their places, replaced with something new, and swanky.

Lines between employees and visitors become blurred when the employees are often caught up by the fun and hype of the theme park, and join in as visitors, and play on the rides, get all high and excited, have all the fun. While there is nothing wrong with that, it comes with a price (yes money again) When the employees play visitors, who is playing employees? This leaves the theme park short handed, and the management has to resort to other means to fill the manpower shortage. That created another set of problems that warrants a new post by itself.

Here’s the rub

Well, boys, if you think working in this theme park is bad, don’t. At least the employees here gets a decent education, healthcare is taken care of. Nobody steals from the staff canteen. Most of your colleagues, gets together well. The management are genuine and listen to the gripes of the people and have the heart of the theme park in everything they do. It’s not an easy job running the theme park, and keeping everyone’s morale up. They are not perfect, but they are trying.

The rub is this, at least when you walk through that door, you see a theme park. In many other place, you get slums, you get landfills, you get polluted drains. We have a theme park going, so let’s try to make the best of it.

We live in the constant hype of the high, created by the rides and theme park attractions.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Death

Death

We are all here on borrowed time.

Dear boys,

I had a ‘taste’ of death.

It happened to me when I was still staying with my mum, back in Woodlands. I think I was already in my National Service. probably 19 years old. I can’t specifically recall what was it that triggered this epiphany, but it goes like a kind of dream.

The problem with words is that words are very poor messengers of life. Like this episode, I can’t tell you if it was a dream, or what.

It happened when I was asleep at night.

I usually tell people it is some kind of a message. But it was more than that, the feeling hits me in the depths of my soul.

It simply said that ‘We are all here on borrowed time.’

That’s the crux of the ‘message’ I got. What I knew was when I woke up, I felt the severity and seriousness of the message. And saw the world in a different way.

We are indeed living on borrowed time.

When it’s time for payback, we go, just like that. Everyday, every minute, every moment is time on loan to us, we don’t really own this life we live. We have it, and the next moment, we will not have it anymore.

It changed my life, and until now I’m still messed up trying to figure out the whole idea of what happened that night. The fact that I’m still alive means that I have a little bit more borrowed time to try and figure what that was all about.

The Scarcity of Death

It does darken my personality sometimes as I think about the scarcity of the whole idea of death, I will probably never get to finish what I wanted to do, and I might expire before my endeavour sees fruition. So why start?

Thinking about it, also spur me to do things, because there is somewhat a mentality of urgency, I have to get things done, before I die. Then the other side hit me, why start?

I’m kind of glad that I got that ‘message’. Since 19, I’ve gotten my life’s perspective right. Stayed happy, worked hard, I got a good sense of what is right and wrong, and somehow did what is mostly right, and stayed away from the wrong. When I want to die, I have to die right.

And I know now since we are on borrowed time, this life is a one way ticket with no return trip. I have to look forward, and when I die, I damn well be doing the things I love. I want to die with a smile on my face.

That doesn’t mean that I am always trippy high, not worried about anything in the world. I don’t try to cheat Death. I don’t fear Death, I won;t say I know Death, but I think I know Death a little better than the people around me. Sometimes thinking about it puts me in a dark place, and I can stay there thinking about death and the dark energy it brings. Sometimes, I’m bright and I want to be bright until I die.

It’s not here…yet…

As I grow older, moving into more borrowed time, I can get a sense of Death, and it is not here yet. But it is also not far away.

death-wallpapers20

Toilets are not Gender Neutral

Toilets are not Gender Neutral

Dear boys,

I think I’ve caused quite a ruckus at my office. You see, the place I worked is in a kind of Service Office, that means a lot of people uses a lot of shared resources. Think of it as a hostel, and you have to share the kitchen, toilet, office equipment and chairs.

Toilets.

That is where I think I became infamous.

Our office unit is located just outside the female toilet. and from where I’m seated, I can see who is going in and out of the ladies. Well, it is not that I want to, but the toilet entrance, is in my line of sight.

So I was on the phone one day and I caught a glimpse of a man, who made a quick knock on the ladies toilet sliding door, opened it and went right it. He wasn’t the office cleaner, he was, at that point in time, unidentified. And for me, an intruder.

My lady colleague also saw from the corner of her eye, and since she wasn’t on the phone, she went in to check it out; and at the same time, had the audacity to use one of the 2 cubicles there. That person, a man, no doubt was in the other cubicle.

The man got out of the toilet, before my colleague was done with her business, and before I was done with my phone call. He was just a about 10 seconds off. I hung up and went after him.

Face off with the Perpetrator 

I caught up with him at the office reception, and first asked him, then told him.

Asked: “Did you use the female toilet?”

Told: ” You are not supposed to use the ladies!”

One of the Service Office staff manager came over and clarified what happened. (I felt it was more like in the perpetrator’s defence.)

The Perp explained that the male toilet’s 2 cubicles are both occupied….

Told: “Please use the toilets in nearby shopping centre! I faced this problem many times, and I always head for a shopping centre toilet a bare 3 minutes walk! You are not allowed to use the female toilet!”

I was instinctively pissed, the Perp actually have a reason AND excuse for using the ladies.

My female colleague caught up and asked him the same thing, that was right after I stomped off, making that scene. I wouldn’t want to tell her account, but what I got from her was the Perp wasn’t apologetic at all.

That was the story for the day.

I went back home unsettled and decided to pursue the matter on the Service Office’s Facebook private group page:

facebook.JPG
Post is sanitized for obvious reasons

The Perp, after being confronted, wrote me an email:

email.JPG
Post is sanitised to protect certain information and also the identity of the perp, duh.

I wouldn’t want to tell you much about the response I got from the Facebook group, but one lady, who is the staff of the Service Office, admitted that she also used the Male toilet ‘in a rush’. Well, that is certainly a ‘WOW’. That is certainly new age, hippie, uber feminism!

Scathing in my reply, I challenged her to use the Gents when she is out at the food centre, shopping arcade, and perhaps she ought to do a social experiment and get guys to use public Ladies toilet, and time how soon the police can get to the scene and arrest that man.

Female toilet is for the female.

Boys, remember this. Under no circumstances should you wander into the ladies. You boys are no longer ‘babies’. There are legal consequences if you do that. Granted that even if you have a ‘medical condition‘, you both shouldn’t even consider using the Ladies, when there is always a choice to do your business somewhere else. And in Singapore, you can always do your business in the right gender segregated toilet.

What “pisses” (pun intended) me off

Of course I reflected on the matter, and wondered what made me got up in arms over the whole matter, without deliberation. I guess I was brought up in a place that really is meritocratic. I don’t care who the hell you are, even if you are the Pope, you still use the Gents. Rules are rules, when the rules are broken, I will speak up, and face whoever breaks the rules.

Like I said, the female toilet is for the ladies. Call me a Gentleman, or a Chauvinist Pig, the ladies stays in the ladies, the men, in the Gents. For that Perp to use the Ladies, he has effectively hijacked the ENTIRE ladies for his own self-centred use. That means while he is in there, would the ladies be comfortable? My lady colleague who went is, is sure as hell not comfortable, but knowing her temperament, she went in to make a point. Unfortunately, her point was well received at all.

What pissed me off was also the ‘self entitled’ mentality. The explanation, and behavior suggests that the Perp thought nothing wrong about it. He can even justified with a ‘medical detail’ which wasn’t even detail to begin with. A simple, empathetic, genuine ‘Sorry‘ would have been great. But what I got was a weak excuse and a nonchalant attitude.

You’re wrong, you’re wrong. When I’m wrong, tell me, I say ‘sorry’, period.

He probably would have gotten away with it, and thought it was ‘no big deal’ until he was confronted by a short, angry Chinese man.

Nevermind

Alright, perhaps, it wasn’t even my problem to begin with, but as I age, I grew into a pretty much don’t give a rat’s ass attitude about who the ‘bleep’ you are. You’re wrong, you’re wrong. When I’m wrong, tell me, I say ‘sorry’, period. Is this the start of civic mindedness for me? I don’t think so, I just do not like people to get away with wanton disregard for gender sensitive signage.

Consequences

Well, if a guy uses the Ladies, and not longer after that, a hidden camera is found in the ladies, where will the finger naturally point? As a matter of decency and privacy, if the man using the Ladies, made some ‘noise‘ while there are ladies in there, how would the ladies feel? And vice versa? If the ladies adjust her undergarment at the toilet sink and the man walks out of the cubicle, wouldn’t that be embarrassing for the modesty of the ladies? So boys, please don’t be stupid. Next time, when you both grow up, got into a very senior position in business or even in your community, please respect the sign. It is there for a reason.

 

Attention Deficit Disorder

add

Dear Ian,

You have ADD.

We found out that in a very bad way when you were 9 years old, which I think is one of your bad years.

Your Primary 3 years

We couldn’t get you to remember things. You constantly have to be reminded of the simplest things. It frustrates the hell out of us when we have to tell you things again and again, for a span of minutes. We thought it was a kid thing, for us to keep reminding you, nagging, and repeating our instructions. But something’s got to break, you results was deteriorating and despite of our coaching and helping, we can see that you are failing and we were desperate, a little scared ourselves perhaps.

The Last Straw

We didn’t know what to do. Simple instructions said had to be repeated countless of times. The last straw came when I told you to write your date format as DD/MM/YYYY, and that was told to you more than once, and you came back with MM/DD/YYYY or something else. I flew into a fit of rage and kicked you in the chest. I think the whole drama was too much for our neighbours and they called the cops, who came, took down our details and that was that.

While I was screaming at you, ‘WHAT ELSE CAN WE DO!?’ ‘DO YOU WANT TO SEE A DOCTOR ABOUT IT!?’ You mother in the room picked up my vibe and checked online, she googled your condition and we learned that you might have Attention Deficit Disorder, which was the first time we heard about it. We also learned that the ADD will be most obvious around the 9-11 years of age, where the child will be tasked with more challenging and complex functions and responsibilities, and this will aggravate a child with ADD conditions.

School’s Challenging

It didn’t help when your Form Teacher and  Co-Form Teacher was too inexperienced and immature to help you with your challenges; you were having problems with your classmates and even with us bringing this matters up to the Form Teacher, she was inadequate in understanding how easily other students can distract you from your work.

We eventually went to seek professional opinion from the Institute of Mental Health, so that we know what we re dealing with and if what we know is on the right track. Most of what we know is what they know, but more importantly, we want you to know that we are seeking help and there is nothing wrong with you. You spoke to the psychiatrists and psychologists yourself and have you explained your behavior and conditions to them and I think you did quite well in your meetings with them.

They helped us by informing your school about your condition and it is not that you are ‘stupid’, it is indeed a diagnosed condition.

We are thankful we didn’t protect you by protecting you.

The Responsible Thing to Do

Once we knew what we were dealing with, the very first thing we want to is to response in an able manner, we want information, knowledge and facts about the situation, we want to be educated, realistic, and pragmatic about what can be done. What we do not want is a stereotype, type cast, and discriminate, blame and label you. We as your parents have to be very careful, and we think the best way to protect you is to keep you informed. And also educate you on how people will see you. We are thankful we didn’t protect you by protecting you.

I know this was the approach when we realised that you have Tourette. We didn’t want to change you, or stop you, make you suppress your Tick. You have it, we will learn about it and manage it. With that approach we try to manage your ADD.

It is not easy, but we have to manage our expectations at a whole new level. There are things we have to explain again and again. we tried to label and colour code your tasks (that helped a bit). Diet wise, we heard that Fish Oil helps (the verdict is still out there). But more importantly, we want you to live your life, your way. Having ADD is you and we have no intention of removing that, we can’t.

What we have is you, the Lim Ian, our child, my favourite eldest son. You’re not perfect, you’re work in progress. As much as I loathe the ADD in you, you are a personality on your own, lovable, affable, aloof at times, very innocent.

Sometimes, I do get angry with you, and I strike fear into your heart, but I have to be very, very aware of who you are. Anger are ineffective as a tool in ADD management, raised voice is the best I can elevate the urgency to, anything higher, I’ll lose you to fear, panic and ADD. this tests my patience and having you as my child change me as a person, man, father and husband.

This condition will never leave you, you are, like what Dr Chng said to you, ‘You have a very special gift.’ and you have to see that you you it to you best. It is very unique to you, nobody else can understand you, and your butterfly mind, constantly fluttering from one flower to another. Ever settling down and never able to hold your attention for long, constantly distracted by yourself.

Just a couple of days back, you came into the room and asked me if I should clear the laundry, and I told you to do so, you took the laundry out from my room and the next thing I know, you are at the sofa, reading your book, and the laundry, left out at the living room, task not completed. I brought this back to your attention, and you told me that while you are kicking the laundry out with your leg, you saw the book and you wanted to keep it, which meant that you walked towards it, and the next thing you know, you sat down reading the book, and the laundry was left on the floor. It was always a new day when you are living with someone who has ADD. Everyday is a new day, a challenging one, and as your dad, I see that joy in your eyes, knows that every moment is worth it.

1 Rule of Marriage

the-smallest-handcuffs-in-then-world

Dear Boys,

There are many, many rules out there for marriage. The wife will say ” What’s mine is mine, and what’s his is mine.”

You can check out the web and find more of these nonsense rules for a good laugh.

For your dad, there is one golden rule when it comes to marriage.

“You don’t have to understand the decision, you just have to respect it.”

You see, everyone has their idiosyncrasies, and your mum has hers, I have mine too. There is no possible way for everyone to come to terms in a logical and coherent manner about every single, little, itsy, bitsy teeny, weeny decision our spouse make. Couples can bitch, fight, quarrel over why, your spouse is afraid of cats, why you want to turn on the fan and blow it at the wet laundry. There are many, countless ridiculous decisions, often based on outdated bias or superstition. As long as they are not too extreme, like for example, if your spouse support the Nazi and wants to paint a huge Swastika in the living room, get out of there, that is one decision by a crazy deranged person.

Point is, there are many small little trivia we can quarrel over, and we took such a long time, and committed so much energy, only to break it up over your spouse who do not cap the toothpaste every single night after use?

The origin of my marriage policy probably stems from some professional dogma I learned somewhere, mostly likely from the military. You see, as a professional in any field, you can voice your opinion, have your grievances heard, says that the plan suck, oppose it, but when it comes down to execution, and you have to run it, you have to run it like you own it, irrespective that moments ago, you were opposing it like mad.

We often do not see the bigger picture, on why things have to be done the way it was done. We may question, bicker, bitch, complain about it, but when action is needed, all talk has to stop. It is not productive, nor constructive to continue the bickering while you are acting on the thing you are bickering about, it is bad vibes, it is bad attitude.

The other side of the coin is, ‘ If you can’t do the small things right, you cannot do the big things right.’ whatever… Marriage is not about big things or small things, it is the togetherness that matter, to thrive in a marriage is really compromising on the small things for the sake of the greater good, trying to fix the small things and you’ll eventually lose sight of the big picture. Because it is not a thing, matter, or situation you are trying to fix, you are dealing with a human being, and human beings cannot be fixed, or fixed.

So learn to accommodate to your spouse, as you both have already gone through the dating stage and hopefully as boyfriend and girlfriend, you both would have ironed out most of your individual quirks and funny little things. When your word to each other, for better or for worse, and more often than not, you’ll have to deal with the worse, remember this:

“You don’t have to understand the decision, you just have to respect it.”