How to bottle things up inside (part 1)

Sunday 21 August 2011, 1.06pm HKT

YESTERDAY (Saturday, 20 August) had been one helluva bad-hair day.

High summer here. Temperature was 33ºC (91ºF) at 97% relative humidity.

We’ve got 7½ million people jam-packed into under 400 square miles (1,035 square kilometres), and they all came out of the woodwork yesterday.

AC no DC

It's an 'AC,' not 'aircon'

As if things weren’t bad enough ever since I arrived back in this god-forsaken land called Hong Kong only-heaven-knows-how-long ago, one of my two ACs at home broke down completely a couple of days ago. The other one’s starting to go on the fritz now.

The official recommended room temperature via AC is 25.5°C (78°F). You might think, big deal, set it lower if you want. No, our government made sure that all ACs available here won’t go cooler than 25.5 degrees.

This 25.5 is stark-raving bonkers. One-horsepower ACs don’t work well at this maximum cooling temperature. When the outside is 33 degrees, you can actually hear the AC labouring and hurring away in pain. I do happen to have a friend who IS an engineer and he told me long, long ago that 1hp ACs should NOT be operated at 25.5 degrees when the outside is 33 — you’re just wasting electricity and killing the freon.

Every engineering student worldwide knows that the average worldwide normal room temperature and pressure is 20°C at 101.3 kilopascals (68°F at 1 atmosphere). Yes, I’m crazy enough to check things: Time Square (yes, we have one too) was 22°C. Right now, my hairdryer is cooler than the still-functioning AC.

Stupid ACs at home keep breaking down in summer year after year.

Bacon-and-eggs square-up

I almost ended up slapping the daylights out of some guy during breakfast at the café down the road.

Two geriatric hooligans sat on either side of me and one of them, white-haired, on my left proceeded to YELL his conversation across my face to his mate on my right. He was yelling at the top of his lungs!

I have this ‘thing’ about being yelled at in my left ear. Back in my schooldays, I had these bully boys yelling in my left ear all the time because they knew I have this ‘thing.’ Yelling into my left ear really gets my temper going.

D’you remember the part in Spider-man the movie where Peter Parker caught all the food flying up the air with his tray when they came falling back down? Yeah, I used to have reflexes like that. I trained and trained myself back then to have faster and faster reflexes so I could hit back at bullies about 10 or 20 pounds’ advantage over me. But when you have reflexes like that, you also don’t know your own strength. Which is why, despite being a ‘super’ type of Type A personality, I let 99% of aggro pass. Quality of life just improved, so to speak.

Anyway, I politely signalled to the white-haired, geriatric punk to keep it down, just a bit, if not for me then at least for the other diners. Noooo, he just kept on yelling, even louder now, right into my face. He added that he couldn’t help it and that he tends to ‘speak’ this loud.

O rly? I don’t think so, punk. If you really couldn’t help it, you wouldn’t be saying that. You wiseguys are all the same, whatever your age. I’ve got lots of experience with people who pretend to be loopy or insane or mentally ill in order to behave badly just for kicks. Right there and then, I was imagining you 30 years ago, and the image matched that of a hooligan. You’re one of them. You’re a hooligan, but only geriatric now.

Tit-for-tat comebacks flew between us. “Pack it in or move to another table.” Even louder yelling from Mr White Hair. The one Saturday I have off and these two gerry hooligans hollered away back and forth across my face. And whaddayaknow, Mr White Hair finally kicked it in for me: “You should respect old people like me.”

“Oi! Is there something you want to tell me?! You are not my family! DO NOT talk respect to me like that! MOVE IT! NOW!!!

Do you know what happens when you pick a fight with a biker? THIS biker lived in interesting places like Beirut before, okay? So, yah, try picking a fight with me and see what happens. I would’ve shoved my hand at (or down) Mr White Hair’s throat to shut him up, if it weren’t for the fact I wear glasses (bifocals to boot).

Pay attention: this is the interesting part.

So the pair was now sitting at another, faraway table. Fine. But then Mr White Hair kept the game up by grinning at me — you know, that kind of grin you imagine seeing on the low IQ types. In normal, everyday language, it’s called provocation. In legal language, it’s zilch. You see, you can’t legally be provoked by someone just smirking at you. Criminal intimidation needs to be verbal at some point. So that’s my legal position: I respond, and my hands become unclean. I’ll let that pass, for now.

This guy was old enough literally by two or three decades over me to know that smirking away is a sure-fire way to tip someone’s anger over — hey-ho! get a brawl.

The last time I had a fight was in my schooldays — and that bastard of a bully ended up in hospital. (I’m not making this up: I really did split two of his ribs.)

So Mr White Hair just sat there, 15 feet away from me, grinning away like a Chinese version of a inbred hillybilly. Since he had settled down by now and nothing provocative was happening, I just let it go. Gee-whiz, man! At least I know I’ll outlive him, so sayo-bloody-nara to that.

* * *


(Trust me, it gets a lot, lot better in Part 2)

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011. Updated 15 Oct 2011 (link fixes).

Image: Green Street Hooligans via Zastavki.

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