Many People Are Blind To What Jerks They Are

, , , , | Friendly | November 16, 2020

I’m on my way to take the subway, and I see a blind young man playing the violin in the station. He’s pretty good, so I stop to listen. Every now and then, he will stop — sometimes even in the middle of a piece — and attempts to speak to his audience.

Me: “That was nice!”

Violinist: *Turning eagerly to me* “Did you like it?”

Me: “Yes, I love Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.”

Violinist: “I learned it all myself! I can’t go for lessons, so I taught myself. Did you like it?”

I realise that he’s eager for someone who will appreciate his playing, as though to reassure himself that he’s good enough despite not having taken formal lessons. I give him a few encouraging words, and he is so excited he starts talking for several minutes about how hard he’s worked and the difficulties of learning the violin when he couldn’t see.

We’re suddenly interrupted by a woman who’s been standing nearby for about half the time.

Woman: “Are you going to talk to him all day? I want to hear him playing.”

I stare at her, speechless. She stares back.

Woman: “Well, are you going to talk to him all day? Let him play. I want to hear something.”

I don’t want to say anything while the violinist can hear, but I am so mad at her attitude. The violinist declares that he will play something else and launches into another piece. The woman stands listening for the next ten minutes. After her personal concert is over, she walks off without a word to the violinist and without even giving him a single cent.

Violinist: “Is she gone?”

Me: “Yes, she is.”

Violinist: “You see? They don’t think of me as a person because I’m blind. They just want me to play music for them.” 

He was so grateful to me for stopping to just talk to him. I gave him a few dollars and stayed to listen until the nearby mall was closing and he couldn’t stay. I helped him to hold his violin and fold up the chair he was sitting on, carried them to the bus terminal, and helped him on board when the bus came. After that, whenever I saw him at the subway station, I would stop to talk to him.


This story is part of our Best Of November 2020 roundup!

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Milking Those Sales For All They’re Worth

, , , , , | Working | November 6, 2020

I’m shopping at the mall when I’m stopped by a salesperson.

Salesperson: “Hi, would you like to try our health product? There are a lot of amazing benefits…”

He starts his spiel.

Me: “Oh, I’ve seen this product before. I’m allergic to some of the ingredients.”

It’s a powder that can be stirred into your beverage.

The salesperson replies rudely, as though I’m insulting his product.

Salesperson: “Our product is very safe; there’s nothing that can cause an allergy!”

He tries to continue his pushy sales spiel.

Me: “There’s milk. I’m allergic to milk.”

Salesperson: *Rolling his eyes* “Oh, there’s no milk in our product! It’s very safe!”

Me: “Did you check the ingredients?”

He has an advertisement board that is meant to grab the attention of passers-by, but it doesn’t have any details about the product. There are brochures behind him, which he definitely didn’t read if he doesn’t know the ingredients.

Salesperson: “Of course! And there’s no milk in it at all!” *Patronisingly* “Since you’re allergic to milk, you shouldn’t mix it into milk. You can just mix it into any other drink, like plain water.”

Me: “Do you think I’m stupid enough to consume this powder with milk, even though I’m allergic to milk?”

I took one of the brochures and showed him the ingredients, which clearly stated that it contained milk.

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Time To Bite The Bullet, Part 2

, , , , | Romantic | November 6, 2020

As there was another story about Potong Jalan recently, I feel that I should submit my own story on it.

Through the two years of mandatory military service (NS), most of us have lost our girlfriends. There are the lucky ones, like me, whose girlfriends were decent enough to formally break up before gallivanting off, but the majority of the guys only find out that they’ve been Potong Jalan-ed by mutual friends or social media telling them that their girlfriends are cheating on them.

Less than a month before the end of NS, one of the only two guys in my platoon who still has a girlfriend receives a text message from his girlfriend.

It is an invitation to her wedding. To another man. Who she has been seeing for a year. Oh, and she is pregnant with his kid.

Yeah. Ouch. By this point, we’ve assumed that any relationship that has survived is basically inviolable. After all, there are only three and a half weeks left until we end NS.

Needless to say, my platoon mate doesn’t believe it. He immediately calls her, only for her to tell him that she is serious. Oh, and that she expects a nice wedding gift.

My platoon mate immediately breaks down weeping, and the rest of us completely fail at consoling him. In fact, my attempt to convince him to let go and move on ends in me having to physically restrain him. A knife may or may not have been involved.

And that went loads better than the last guy with a girlfriend’s attempt to cheer him up.

I can’t tell you that one. It got classified by our bosses.

Eventually, we got the officers involved and they calmed him down and got him to go shower and sleep. Thank goodness they were trained as breakup counselors.

The rest of the fallout is another story altogether, but needless to say, that was the worst Potong Jalan I have ever had the misfortune of seeing happen.

Our guy basically got the rest of his last month in the army waived by our bosses under compassionate leave. But yeah, that was one traumatic breakup. And by traumatic, I mean traumatic. Even the rest of us were traumatised by it.

Related:
Time To Bite The Bullet

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Gonna Make “Uncle” Your First Word

, , , , | Related | October 30, 2020

I’m childhood friends with my neighbour’s kids. They have three boys and one girl. The youngest brother has just done something extremely stupid — covering himself in cushions and rolling down a hill — and is getting chewed out by their parents. The four of us are watching the carnage from afar.

Me: “Did your parents drop [Youngest Brother] on his head when he was a baby?”

Sister: “Of course not! How dare you insinuate that?! Our parents never dropped any of us on our heads!”

Me: “Uh, sorry.”

Brother #1: “It was our uncle that did the dropping.”

Me: “Really? He did that once?”

Brother #2: “More than once. Way more.”

I give him a disbelieving look.

Sister: “Yeah, admittedly, that’s true. He dropped all of us on our heads at least once.”

Now, the brothers might have been joking, but if their sister says so, then it’s true.

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Time To Bite The Bullet

, , , , , | Romantic | October 11, 2020

I’m fifteen, and I’m at a family dinner at my grandparents’ place. The conversation rolls around to my relatives’ time in the army. Every male in Singapore has to serve two years in the army when they turn eighteen, so I’m quite interested in finding out what I’ll have to go through. We call it National Service or NS.

Me: “So, what’s the scariest thing in NS?”

Cousin #1: “Live firing. You never realise how loud gunshots are until you’ve shot a gun.”

Cousin #2: “Don’t listen to him. He spent all his time on a desk job. What’s scarier is the explosives. However loud a gunshot is, they’re louder.”

Cousin #3: “Forget that. You’ve never left Singapore. There’s nothing scarier than camping in the Brunei jungle and waking up with a snake right beside you.”

Uncle #1: “Hey, I was part of the National Guards. Nothing is scarier than rappelling out of a helicopter.”

Uncle #2: “I was in NDU [Naval Diver Unit] in the eighties. Last time wasn’t as easy as now. Scariest is the drown-proof training. They tie you up and throw you into a pool.”

The conversation degenerates into my three cousins and two uncles bragging about their scariest exploits during their time in the army. My aunt decides she’s had enough of it.

Aunt: “Quit your d**k-measuring contest. I know what the scariest possible thing in NS is!”

Cousin #1: *Unconvinced* “What is it, Mom?”

Aunt: “Potong Jalan.”

There is an immediate and total silence among the male crowd.

All Five Of Them: “Yeah, that is the scariest.”

Me: “Potong Jalan? What’s that?”

Aunt: “It’s Singlish for your girlfriend getting stolen by another man while you are in the army.”

Me: “Pffft. Like that’ll happen to me.”

All Five Of Them: *Thousand-yard stare* “That’s what we thought.”

Cousin #2: “If you don’t believe me, you can ask around. Happens to ninety percent of the couples in NS.”

Uncle #1: “Yeah, trust me. By the end of BMT [Basic Military Training], half your section will have lost their girlfriends.”

Cousin #2: “Yeah. Like, in some places, they make the officers all go for training as breakup counsellors. My friend who signed on had to do that. It’s that prevalent.”

Cousin #3: “And depending on your unit, sometimes you can get compassionate leave if you have Potong Jalan.”

Uncle #2: “Yeah. All the sergeants bully you so much, like to make you suffer, but then when they see someone crying because of Potong Jalan, they stop shouting and actually treat you nicely.”

Cousin #1: “There are even marching songs about Potong Jalan. It’s that prevalent.”

Me: “Well, I won’t have to worry about that. I can’t even get a girlfriend.”

Everyone: “Don’t date until after NS!”

They were right. There were several breakups within the first week. By the end of the nine-week BMT, the number of intact couples was about two-thirds. By the end of the year, it was below half. It turns out that after seeing your girlfriend cheat on you, nothing the army throws at you is even remotely scary anymore.

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