Kitty brought out ugly S'porean in me

KITTY FEVER: The writer waited three hours to buy Hello Kitty plush toys in a queue similar to this one outside a McDonald's outlet last week, but not before witnessing the ugly side of Singaporeans amid the craze.


    Jul 01, 2013

    Kitty brought out ugly S'porean in me

    HELLO Kitty turned me into an "ugly Singaporean", and I'm not proud of it.

    This is how it went.

    At first, I was amused, irritated and curious about the McDonald's Kitty craze that gripped people. Then, I found myself harbouring a burning desire to own at least one of the felines. That's how my friend and I ended up in a horrendously long queue for the most coveted feline in the country - the Singing Bone Hello Kitty.

    It's also how I ended up bearing witness to the ugly side of my fellow countrymen - and myself.

    There were people who walked by, commenting snidely on those in the queue. Some even snapped pictures of us.

    Meanwhile, those in the long line stared at their mobile phones, not speaking to each other. There were also those who asked others to help them buy more of the plush toys by "sharing" McDonald's coupons that had been handed out. Each coupon entitles you to buy a maximum of four Singing Bone kitties.

    I finally got to the counter after three hours, my friend and I bearing two "golden tickets". The flustered cashier mistakenly told us that we could get only seven plush toys. I got snappy and stared her down, explaining that, according to McDonald's rules, we were eligible for eight.

    The cashier realised her mistake, and let us have the number of kitties we wanted.

    Walking away, I felt bad about being rude.

    I'd got what I wanted, but the event was tainted for me. I'm normally a nice person, and I make it a point to be polite - especially to service staff, having worked in the food-and-beverage industry before.

    I guess the queuing really took its toll on me.

    The incident got me thinking about how we encounter this sort of behaviour every day.

    I've often seen people pushing each other during rush hour at MRT stations, and have witnessed people being rude when they didn't get the right dish at restaurants. I've also seen people queue-jumping while waiting for entry into concert halls.

    It's no wonder Singa the Courtesy Lion quit on us.

    But the truth is, this is part and parcel of living in a crowded city. We just have to learn how to deal with it better.

    Instead of elbowing each other, we could be learning how to connect and communicate better.

    The Hidden Good is a Facebook page run by a group of people who believe that Singaporeans are inherently good.

    Their aim is to "acknowledge and, more importantly, appreciate the good deeds performed by citizens that would otherwise go unnoticed".

    The group uploads stories, film footage and pictures of people doing kind deeds.

    I wish people would take more notice of projects like this, as such things serve as good reminders of the fact that we all want to be at our best, even in the face of adversity.

    As for myself, I keep in mind Chinese philosopher Laozi's words: Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character.

    I hope that the Hello Kitty incident was merely a minor slip.

    I wouldn't want that sort of behaviour to become part of me.