Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Passionate about the traffic police

I must love my husband a lot. That's why I do his dirty work for him : take care of his laundry, file in his tax returns and pay his traffic summon. This latest errand here had me falling in love with our traffic police, so much so that my heart is racing be-de-gup-be-de-gup because of the passion they've inspired in me.

See, our venerable traffic police has offered a 50% discount for offenders to settle their summons. And hubby suddenly remembered that the traffic summon he picked up while vrooming to send a sick boy to the clinic, was still unpaid. Of course the errand fell on me.

So today after picking up no. 1 from school, I went to the police station. There was a long queue, about two dozen people ahead of me. Never mind, I have a book to kill time with. As soon as the counters open in ten minutes' time, the queue will get moving. Fat hopes.

The first few people breezed through the counter (only one was open though there were two). Suddenly the queue stopped moving for about 15 minutes. I wondered what happened as my view was obstructed by the people in front.

"Is anyone manning the counter?" I asked the big Indian man standing behind me. Large beads of sweat covered his face and his shirt was drenched. It was a small non-airconditioned room we were waiting in. The only ventilation came through the open door. The window was closed. Though a ceiling fan was on at full speed, when you have twenty over people crammed into a tiny room on a hot afternoon, temperature soared and so did my impatience.

"Why so slow?" I asked aloud as I fanned myself with the cover of my book.

Five minutes later I got the answer to my question. The guy who had just left the counter clutched a stack of inch-high receipts. It had taken this man twenty minutes to get his mountain of summons paid. Either he has a lot of friends in the fast lane or he was an office boy doing his colleagues a favour.

By then I was fuming. Long queues can be tolerated if they move, the operative word here being MOVE. The next two blokes in line made the queue stagnant again for another twenty minutes.

I'm puzzled. See, on the notice boards were two notices admonishing the public not to pay their summons through "ulat-ulat dan orang tengah." That's Malay for worms and middle-man. The only worms I know are of the insect variety, not the human species, so this word is quite baffling. But middle-man, I know one when I see one. I've just seen three of them hold up the line for forty minutes.

Fortunately after those three, the queue moved pretty quickly. When it was my turn, I asked the policeman, "Why don't you limit the number of bills per person? Like Tenaga, they limit five bills to a person."

He mumbled something from the comfort of his air-conditioned office. Then he gave me back my change together with the receipt. Two of the notes fluttered down from the counter to his desk and I couldn't reach them and I asked him nicely if he could hand them back to me.

He glared at me and said, "That's whylah. Why you're angry at me? Huh, now your notes dropped down."

I thought for a moment that he wasn't going to pick up the notes for me. It was as if he was saying, "Because you're angry at me, I'm not going to help you retrieve the money. Serves you right."

"It's not my fault, you know. Why you ask stupid question?" he said as he handed the money to me.

Can you see why I'm so passionate over our traffic police? Of course, I had to retort, "It's not a stupid question, it's a valid question."

And as I walked out the door, I couldn't resist using that word on him too. I know, I know, I'm a bad example to my kid but I simply CANNOT TAHAN already.

I must tell hubby to please, please obey traffic rules. I don't want to have to fall in love with our traffic police all over again. This type of passionate experience, I can only take once in a lifetime.


OOD said...

sometimes i dont understand why people who are frontliners, tellers, cashiers all do what they do. They obviously hate the job, they give their organisations a bad name and they make us feel like they do us a huge favor.

must have kempen mesra and senyum and budibahasa i guess. No kempen no manners (sometmes got kempen also no manners ya?)

Lydia Teh said...

Hi Ood, You're right. Seldom do I see a frontliner who smiles at the job. But I must say those in the hotel industry seem to be doing the right thing. Receptionists, doormen, bell-boys are always ready with their smiles. Got Service with a Smile campaign for civil servants, mah. When I read letters to newspaper editors who praise a civil servant for a job well done, I'm moved to tears.

AdieJin said...

it's not just the employees to be blamed. Most of the time, the organisation itself is at fault.Policies are being passed to downliners without proper preperation, inorganised and unclear instrucitons. Then the employees have to face the wrath of us consumers and take the blame on behalf of the bosses who spends more time on the golf courses or comfy hotel lobbies.