12.25am local time, 26°C (79°F), rain patches

SOMETIMES I get the impression that people just LUURVE to put surrealistic, self-victimising questions to me because I’m too much of a push-over for getting answers out of.

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Artwork by Max Dunbar for FutureQuake 21
(via Future Quake Press)

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A short lesson in cold spells

Friday 30 November 2012, 5.09pm HKT

12.51am local time
18°C (64°F)

WE’VE SEEN a sudden drop in temperature these couple of days in Hong Kong (plus a sudden rise today). That got a friend and I ruminating about how people handle weather changes that in turn led to another thought about the old, the sick and the homeless.

Weather-wise, I’ve grown up or lived in some really interesting countries before, so I’m highly aware of how people react to weather changes.

Yeah, I wrote about the old, the ignored and the homeless suffering through cold spells several times before [such as this post]. The saddest part (and angriest for me) isn’t a lack of facilities from the government — that’s another story for another day.

What kicked off the other thought between my friend and I is that the UK and Hong Kong have nearly the same ‘direction’ of temperature change. Obviously the two places have different temperature ranges. Like Hong Kong, water surrounds the UK on all sides, so temperatures keep bobbing up and down all the time. The UK hardly stays cold longer than 14–21 days. Hong Kong usually doesn’t stay cold longer than seven days. People in both places fall ill all the time, which is one reason why the UK invented free universal healthcare (the National Health Service, or NHS). Hong Kong still hasn’t got that yet because the government is afraid to spend money. Yet the truth is, Hong Kong did have near-universal healthcare once.

That got my friend, Lily C., to say this:—


I THINK the healthcare system in Hong Kong is not bad overall. But the HKSAR government needs to ensure the quality of our nurses and doctors [can cut the ice]. For this, I have a story to share.

An old relative of mine has been in hospital four times these past few years. The first three times have been for heart problems. The most recent was for pneumonia.

Every time I visited her in hospital, I got to see a lot about our doctors and nurses. I got to see as well the suffering, sorrow and despair on the faces of patients, many whose bodies have various tubes sticking out of them — the very picture of helplessness of an individual hanging on to dear life.

Hospitals are sad places. From what I’ve seen, I’ve come to some conclusions.

Our doctors are missing the point of their calling

Because of the pressure and expectations put on our public hospitals, many of our more experienced doctors in their 40s and 50s have left to start their own clinics in the private sector. Those that remain in public hospitals are mostly fresh graduates with little or no working experience. Absent the role models of the more experienced doctors, many of the fresh doctors are mindful about earning money more than about the philosophy underpinning their vocation. That earnings-oriented attitude in turn tends to cause fresh doctors to suspend their awareness of the needs and wants of patients and their families.

In my relative’s case, one doctor was always pushing for heart surgery. My relative refused point blank out of natural fear, which is understandable. The rest of us also rejected the idea too, seeing that surgery on the balance of probability might possibly be quite dangerous for a 70-something person with a weak heart.

When we tried to ask about our relative’s general medical status, the doctor turned away and brushed us off. It’s hospital policy, the doctor told us in chilling terms, that he will disclose no medical details to any of us (regardless of our status as family members) now that our relative — his patient — wasn’t agreeing to surgery. If (and only if) our relative agreed to have surgery could he tell us more — excusing his response on some moral conscientiousness of being a doctor!

Nurses: patients’ predicaments left by the wayside

Then there’s the way our nurses apparently treat patients in general.

Nurses here come in two colours: those decked out in all-white uniforms, and those in dark-blue tops and white slacks. Also coming in two are their varieties and never the twain shall they meet: the friendly, amicable type vs. the apathetic, callous type with a noticeable propensity to ignore the predicaments and sensitivities of patients in their care.

http://article.wn.com/view/2012/04/16/Nursing_Homes_Disaster_Plans_Big_Gaps_Found_In_Emergency_Pre/In truth, some of the nurses I’ve seen are wholly lacking in adroitness even from a layperson’s standpoint.

In the case of my ageing relative the last time she was in hospital, she first contracted the flu, which then turned into pneumonia. Because of that, she needed daily flu shots to boost her immune system. In nearly every single instance, my relative came away with a red, swollen, bleeding wound because of how the shots were administered. For a 70-something year old, that’s quite an ordeal.

Clumsiness is curable through practice and experience; callousness is not.

Indeed, I was in near-fury at the sight of one nurse feeding an old woman in my relative’s ward. That old woman had trouble chewing food and feeding herself generally, so she got served congee [porridge] for breakfast but then just milk for lunch and supper. On the day I was there, a nurse had to feed the old lady by the spoonful.

http://www.smh.com.au/sport/horseracing/lightning-pace-sets-up-hometown-record-tilt-20120211-1sydo.htmlFeeding by the spoonful wasn’t the problem. It was the lightning pace of it all that infuriated me.

Scarcely had that old lady downed one spoonful then the next one was shoved in her face.

Predictably, the old lady coughed and choked, and nearly vomited over herself. It was a terrible sight to see anyone being treated like that.

Here’s what I had learnt from those and other sights and experiences of mine at hospitals.

Lesson One: We have to stay fit and healthy at all times. Be conscious about what makes our diet, such as reducing fat intake, cholesterol and stuff like that.

Lesson Two: Treasure your time in the here and now, and live every day as happily as you can humanly manage.

Lesson Three: The Hong Kong healthcare system needs serious improvement, not just in the quality and qualifications of the personnel, but improvement in the whole ambit of whys and wherefores of providing care for the sick and incapacitated. I think the road is longer than how our hospital authorities think they see it.


Lily C. is a university graduate in Hong Kong with a major in English.

* * *

Please leave a comment for my friend Lily to make her day.— Editor



© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012. (B12432)

Images: Hong Kong taxi via About.com | Doctor and money via c4c | Emergency vs. Disaster adapted via World News Inc. | Horseracing by Vince Caligiuri via the Sydney Morning Herald.

Fifty shades of (no) grey (matter)

Thursday 15 November 2012, 6.42am HKT

2.50am local time

ABOUT an hour ago, I managed to save the life of a European man from possible attack by a Hong Kong Chinese man in McDonald’s in Times Square over … guess what … a double cheeseburger.

Cut in half brain more like

This sorry episode makes me think about what is happening in this toilet bowl ex-British/now-Chinese colony of Hong Kong, plus why my non-‘nominal’ life has always been one long emergency (see About me for the finer details).

Quick late-night bite at McBongo as well as giving myself a reprieve from the constant bloody phone calls. Ugly or stupid (or ugly AND stupid) guys wooing over-imaginative and under-promiscuous pimple-pocked chick all around me. Situation normal, so far so good.

Euro guy walks in, stands in line, orders food, and waits at the sidelines. Gets food and sits not a pole-axe’s length away from me. Wrong food order, so he trundles back to the counter to reorder. Reorder comes and it’s the same wrong order.

‘Cantonese Restaurant Syndrome’

Now the fun and faggotry begins.

Captain Euronal decides it’s cute to start speaking in hypercorrect English to the counter staff. Total Linguistic Failure mode kicks into operation, and everyone stands motionless and blinking furiously.

McManager takes over. Total Linguistic Failure mode also kicks into operation for him. Aztec-style stony smile on McManager’s face, which only fuels Captain Euronal’s irritation further about being repeatedly given the wrong order.

Captain Euronal then wraps his arm around McManager’s shoulders — you know, the by-now highly recognisable British style of body language that means “I want to have a quiet word with you.” Everyone behind the counters were scared stiff and fartless.

Big mistake, my furry expatriate friend. Arms around someone’s shoulder is the Chinese (and Arabic) sign for “I want to end your life in a minute or two.”

This is when the proverbial Cantonese Restaurant Syndrome (CRS) kicks into play. That’s a phrase from London back in the 1970s. In CRS, everyone puts up with the complainer’s incessant bitching and assorted ‘drama’ for a long, long time. When finally everyone ‘tips over,’ the complainer gets hacked to little chopsuey pieces with a watermelon knife or meat cleaver. Or deep fried in napalm cooking oil in McBongo’s case.

In other words, CRS is the southern Chinese version of the celebrated American ‘Southern Death Threat‘ — which, by the way, is also the name of a really cool American rock band.

(The northern Chinese version of the CRS is a speeded-up version of the U.S. Air Cavalry’s ‘Death From Above’ search-and-destroy from the Viet Nam War era.)

The McFries work just as well

‘Completely misread’

Actually, it was quite funny up to that point … until a Hong Kong Chinese man with ashen-grey complexion and pock-marked face walks in midway.

Mr Honky-Tonkhead completely misread what’s going on and thought Captain Eurozone Crisis was being racist (wasn’t: Captain Euro himself admits he was being a dick, which he was). Mr Honky-Tonkhead was ready to bash Captain Euro’s face in — and probably could too.

So, here we were, two guys standing 6 foot tall, both with James Bond-like physique — really! — about to square off in McBongo over a double cheeseburger.

Don’t you see what Marvel and DC Comics have done to us?

Oh God, I thought, it’s all fun and games until someone gets his eyes poked out and then it’s not funny anymore. I just had to step in and practically broadcast myself loud enough to dance to that it’s a misunderstanding over an effing double cheeseburger.

Typical of most Cantonese people, Honky-Tonkhead won’t let up. Being a biker (of the motorcycle variety) that I am, it befalls on me to explain that Captain Eurodickhead wasn’t being racist and just bitching about his food. Captain Euro was a little bit tired and emotional (British euphemism for ‘drunk’) so all should be forgiven.

Honky-Tonk Hothead still wouldn’t back down.

Me (in perfectly enunciated Cantonese): “Were you speaking to me?”

Honky-Tonkhead: “Yeah.”

Me: “Really? What did you say? Tell it to my left ear, friendo.”

In case this idiot were to go suddenly out of control, I was ready to tear his left ear off from his scalp using a technique some ex-Israeli soldier taught me yonks ago.

Him: “Forgot.”

Me: “Oh, did you now? Will you try to remember when you go to bed later?”


Me: “Are you Chinese?”

Him: “Yeah, sure.”

Me: “Then help me, this Chinaman, by not getting involved. Let me do my job.”

In short, I defused the situation by getting Captain Euro to sit down with me and let’s farkin’ bitch together about the bad food, bad state of English comprehension in Hong Kong, and (believe it or not) bad behaviour of foreigners in Hong Kong. For a long time. That keeps Captain Euro from getting further worked up, and prevents others from entering into the fray. Until time when a panda car (police car) arrives.

By the time the boys in blue were here, Captain Euro and I were already on our own way home downstairs.

Mr Policemen, learn responsiveness, or starve.

* * *

What everyone was doing wrong

Of course I’m in the right. I’ve always been. That’s why I ended up with a life that’s one long emergency.

Captain Eurozone Disaster

Thank heavens I stepped in. I later learned this guy was a 1992 Iraqi war veteran, with one bullet wound in this left abdomen (he showed me — eeew!). I’m not mentioning his nationality because that’s unfair to his countrymen and just creates a hostile environment for everybody else.

Imagine this Captain Euronal comes to blows with our homegrown Honky-Tonkhead with the ashen face. You could say we’re in for a Double Cheese Saddam Sushi à la New Age Euro-Chinese Fusion Style.

Captain Euro and/or equivalent, when you’re in a country with 99% Cantonese people, ditch your more Eurofaggot ways. It isn’t that you’re bowing to them — they just don’t know your ways. Unless it’s your goal in life to be sliced into ribbons for making Chinese dimsum (canapés).

Mr Honky-Wanko-Tonkhead

If you don’t know what’s going on, and when you can’t speak the lingo (or even not have a notional understanding of it), BUTT OUT! Don’t farkin’ assume every other whitey bitching about something is being racist. Look at your own goddamn selves first: you’re even more racist towards your own mainland Cantonese kith and kin than the whitest-of-white supremacists are towards blacks and coloureds.


Don’t f*cking call me “siding with Westerners” because I’m not, you sick c*nt. I heard that. I recognise your distinctive ashen-grey complexion that you’re quite the regular at that McBongo, and I’m going to seek you out one fine and teach you a goddamn big lesson on How To Be A Chinaman. You’re disgracing us ‘real’ Chinese and ‘real’ Hongkongers.

And let me tell you another sorry fact of life too:—

Many, many foreigners have had military experience. Most of their countries have compulsory one-time national service (e.g. France, Italy). Quite a number have compulsory repeating military service (e.g. Ireland, Israel, Switzerland, Singapore, Taiwan). China has selective conscription (not for Guangdong/Canton province).

You might think you’re Jacky Chan with your ching-chong chowmein kung-fu martial arts and your vicious Cantonese temper (peanuts compared with the northerners’) but you might just end up fighting a ex-Navy SEAL commando with a dozen covert-action medals. Just sayin’.

Remember how we got trounced by the faggoty British in the First and Second Opium Wars? Sorry, are you Chinese enough to remember them?

Thank you for making sure for us that your brain doesn’t work.


McManager wasn’t really at fault, but his total silence was. He doesn’t know enough English to handle a tired and emotional English speaker bitching about his food. That can test even a native English speaker, never mind a Chinese speaker mistaught in practically everything our glorious, history-laden educational system could possibly misteach.

Umm, he’s sort of at fault then. Maybe not, really.

Just say very sorry, here’s your correct order, have a complimentary coffee on the house, and thank you for your business. This won’t happen again, we promise. That should do the trick.

You’re in the service and catering industry. Learn your trade, or starve.

If a customer gets a wrong order, bend over backwards and just get the right goddamn food to the customer, no questions asked. It’s company money, it’s company food — but it could be YOUR LIFE on the line. You don’t want to be your company’s Our Best Employee Killed In Action.

Don’t wave away a white foreigner with another wrong order — then you’re fobbing him off and it becomes a deathquest for justice for the foreigner. No Chinaman ever wins when a white man is on a deathquest. True fact, that.

McBongo management

McBongo’s managment should’ve taught or trained their store managers better ways to deal with bitchy customers who go into douchebag mode unprovoked, suitably divided into four separate categories (taking in the realities of Hong Kong):—

  1. local Hongkongers
  2. Chinese mainlanders
  3. white foreigners
  4. coloured foreigners

That’s not politically correct, but it farkin’ socially, socioculturally, life-experientially realistic. When you put employees on McWage in the middle of the night smack bang in the middle of central tourist areas with many different kinds of cattle people, you as management is obligated to train principal employees in this stuff.

Three athletes (two males, one female, all middle-aged) sitting next to me before this whole episode erupted were saying:—

“You complain to or about gweilo [foreigners] and they can make the matter massive. It then becomes a matter of principle and an insult to them. Most of us Chinese people think everyone else is insulting us, yet we do things that actually insult others without realising it.” (Overheard)

Draw your own conclusions.

You might want to read this short article about the basics of customer service, at least to prevent the possible maiming or death of your employees.

The Police

Not the band, I mean the boys in blue. Four cops in a panda car. Only one goes in to ‘investigate.’ Investigate your own responsiveness and priorities first.

Learn police fieldwork, or starve.

Yours truly

Me. Do the decent thing to prevent someone getting injured or even killed over a stupid double cheeseburger meal priced HK$21 (US$2.71 or £1.70), and get branded as a pro-Westerner (read: traitor).

F.U.? F.U.R.B.! You don’t like my face? Neither do I like yours!

The good out of all this farce?

  1. McManager was grateful that I made a fool of myself but defused the situation.
  2. Captain Euronal was very appreciative that I prevented Honky-Tonkhead from launching a pre-emptive thermonuclear missile attack.
  3. Honky-Tonkhead left feeling I’m a traitor to my own kind.
  4. The other McBongo patrons thought I was a traitor too, in a foolish sort of way.

Let that be a lesson to you all Good Samaritans. I understand from the Bible (my version anyway) that the Good Samaritan eventually got face-raeped.

You run with the bulls, you get the horns.



© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012. (B12405) Updated 17 Nov 2012 (fixing typos).

Images: Cut in half brain via Multiple Sclerosis Research | Cantonese roast duck via Wizard Recipes | Watermelon knife in action via Bat Girl Drives Bat Mobile | ‘Hot Head’ by Mark Fisher via Atomic Tidbits | Soldier via The Doyle Clan | Disposable lighter via Recycle This | Tick mark excellent by Dominick Gwarek via stock.xchng | Dixon of Dock Green via c4c | Bad Samaritan via Rude Humor T-shirts.

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