Sunday, November 23, 2008

Malaccans Drive Nice Unlike Everyone Else

"Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you and scorn in the one ahead."

Mac McCleary

Firstly, I have not abandoned my blog. There’s a whole syndrome of reasons why I have not written here lately and chief of them is that my broadband connection has been erratic. It’s been disengaging from the net unpredictably for the entire past week, delaying my downloads and hacking my MSN conversations short. Two days ago, I was completely cut off – the "Remote Computer" refuses to answer my calls at all – and I’m pretty sure it’s not my modem being an arse here. However, I can still surf on dial-up, which I am doing at the moment. Note to self: sic my Dad on the problem.

Secondly, my attention was held captive recently by China Miéville’s The Scar – a speculative fiction masterpiece (it is!) in the "New Weird" sub-genre – and I have been investing every spare moment in it. Miéville is one of those authors who write what folks in the reading circle like me refer to as "bricks" or "doorstoppers". I pride myself on being able to read pretty quickly but the book is so rich that I simply cannot gorge myself too much in every sitting (people who don’t like words a whole lot; stand back and stay away). Anyway, expect a review of Miéville’s Bas-Lag books from me soon, right after I finish the third book in the canon.

And thirdly, my psychiatry posting – in spite of its leisurely nature – is proving to be a big drain on me. I personally enjoy the subject (and I am seriously thinking of specialising in it) but I can’t deny that the posting’s hours are a bit trying.

So, hello people (whoever are still here anyway)! I’m back for today – and today, I want to talk about… driving. And drivers. Oh, and the sort of people who drives.

You know back in high school and driving school, they always talked about this vague human value called "courtesy on the road"? If you’re a non-Muslim Malaysian student, I bet you’ve had it repeated ad nauseam to you in the ridiculous compulsory subject of Moral Education (what? Non-muslims’ religions don’t teach morality?). Well, "courtesy on the road" is a vast code of unspoken ethics for drivers which basically and summarily says "don’t be an asshole while driving" – I’ll illustrate my point later – and before I truck on, let me first say that Malaccan drivers are amongst the most courteous motorists in the country. Yeah, it’s a shout-out; let’s hear some whoops here!

Not Malaccans.

Every time a car stops too closely behind me, jumps a queue or bullishly tries to insinuate itself into a line when it does not have the right of way, that car always carries an outstation number plate – usually starting with W (KL), B (Selangor), or J (Johor Bahru). INVARIABLY. In fact, it’s such a constant that in every single instance of such assholery, I’d say "That’s definitely a KL or Johor car," to whoever’s riding with me without even looking at the number plate. I was right EVERY TIME. My colleagues from other states agreed with me on this, by the way. And to any dissenters here – you can’t cause accidents by driving slowly (anyone who says otherwise fails logic forever). Accidents are generally caused by people getting impatient with people driving slowly. "Slow" is sometimes known as "careful", by the way.

I get it that some breaches of etiquette are simply survival tactics for driving in their own states, and I become pretty assertive myself in the times I drove in KL as well (though I have always stopped short of being a jerk). The prevailing attitude on that city’s roads is one of selfishness – it’s every man for himself there, all cars clawing for every inch they can steal. I’ve seen drivers switching lane in a deadlock jam, trying to score a few seconds of advantage. I’ve seen other drivers stopping less than a foot away from the car in front to prevent anyone from trying to wedge in into the place in front of them. Why can’t everyone just work the fuck together, and only make moves that are absolutely necessary? I’m convinced that traffic would run so much more smoothly there if everyone can be just a little bit more patient and accommodating - but nooooo, everyone has to be an asshole.

I think one of the reasons why people can be so rude when they are driving is because of the relative anonymity of hiding in a car. It’s just like on the internet. Just read any message boards, online fora or the comment boxes in popular blogs – you hardly see people talk or act that way at all in real life. Everyone thinks that being anonymous means that they are not culpable for their breach of societal politesse.

I was in a colleague’s car just the other day when another car tried to overtake us. My colleague, who came from KL, instantly accelerated and the other car, failing to overtake, drove back in line. I was completely flabbergasted. "Why the fuck did you do that for?" I blurted "We’re not in a rush to go anywhere – you could have maintained your speed and let the other car pass! You lose nothing!" My colleague seemed stunned for a moment, as if what I just said simply never occurred to him before.

"It was a kneejerk reaction. I did it without thinking," he replied sheepishly. I wanted to point out that the jerk part was right, but I thought better of it.

That was an instance of road rudeness which serves no practical purpose at all. It’s acts like these which makes me think that humans are inherently rotten inside.

A couple of days ago, I was returning from supper in my own car. From quite a distant away, I could see that the traffic light at a certain junction just turned red and I simply took my foot off the accelerator, to allow my momentum to run out on its own. I like easing to a standstill that way because I don’t see the point in racing to the line when I have to stop and wait anyhow (a senseless waste of petrol, in my opinion). I was nearly there when suddenly, a grey car overtook me from behind at the very last moment just so it can come to hard stop in front of me. What the fuck? Why the fuck?

Sure enough, it was a W plate. I would have been surprised if it wasn’t,

Not Malaccan (and I always stop this far behind any car, by the way).

The road was practically empty. In fact, the lane beside me was completely unoccupied. Also, if you remember, the damn light was RED. Is it because he can’t bear watching me go so slowly and wanted to show me how to drive like him – how to screech to halt in front of a red light?
If I am an asshole like him, I’d probably be incensed enough to try to overtake him when the light turns green, to beat him to the next intersection. But I wasn’t, so I let him zoomed away while I just continued driving at my own languid speed. The grey car soon sped out of sight, overtaking a few more cars as he did.

And as I eased to a halt at the next junction, I stopped right behind…

"Didn’t make such good time after all eh, asshole?"

So he did a completely pointless act of overtaking a few feet before a red light and pointlessly wasted a lot of petrol for absolutely nothing. Gosh, I’m sure glad that I have the foresight and temperance to avoid performing completely useless actions like that.

What I want to say is; we Malaccans have a stronger sense of propriety on the road than all you other idiots from elsewhere. I believe I’m speaking for all my hometownies when I say that we simply do not welcome your type of drivers flooding into our nice, peaceful city in the weekends and holidays, causing unnecessary jams and being jerks to us on our own turf (outstation cars seem to outnumber Malaccan ones these days, for some reason). If you want to drive in Malacca, be courteous and patient. If you’re on vacation here, there’s even less reason for you to be rushing about. Also, while I’m at it, doing things like taking advantage of an empty lane beside a long line of cars just to cut the queue always disgusts us. Do you do that when you’re queuing in person at a ticket counter or supermarket checkout? It’s just as awful. Stop doing that, fucktards. Get the fuck out of town if you can’t play by our rules.

P.S. The next (or the next next) post will be somewhat related to this one (car and driver related), about how selfish some medical students are in my college. I meant to write about it as a second-parter of this piece but I suddenly felt an urge to go out to a café to read and have a cup of coffee. So next time then.

Malaccan driver,
k0k s3n w4i


Elaynne said...

Totally agreee... hahaha
oo and u missed out the 'P' plate.

I seriously hate weekend congestionsss... especially near my house there...

btw I will be back in dec... meet up!

MichelleG said...

haha.. the congestion is crazy!! stay at home during weekends for me =P

i think patience is good.. which most drivers in msia lack off, except for the older generations. sigh..

sinye said...

ya true..stay at home during weekends..

ya, we're all polite malaccan drivers..*wink*

Betsy said...

I shall soon join the league of polite Malaccan drivers :D (hopefully)!

ven said...

I beg to differ though, Malaccan drivers never give way when someone put on the blinking orange lights to change lane for a genuine reason. Besides, using an empty lane is not considered as queue cutting as long as you are not blind to realise that the empty lane allows one to drive towards the same direction as the jammed up lane. (If this make any sense. )

k0k s3n w4i said...

Elaynne: tell me when you're back okay. it'd be great to meet up after so many years. Gosh, it's been too long! I thought the 'P's were alright, personally :D

MichelleG: it took me 40 mins just to navigate thru Dataran last Saturday. i'm seriously considering cycling again.

sinye: Nice drivers unite!

Betsy: when are you taking the driving test?

ven: well, seeing that it's a pretty subjective thing - i'll go with the majority opinion xD anyway, like i said, i actually drew my conclusion from the fact that anytime I see anyone breaching road etiquette on Malaccan road, it's ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS a non-Malaccan. I have always pointed it out (quite obnoxiously sometimes) to the people riding in the same car - my colleagues - who are ALL non-malaccans, and they have grudgingly agreed with me. still, have you driven in KL before? wud you say that drivers there are more polite and patient compared to Malaccan drivers? I find that claim a bit bizarre - about Malaccans not giving way - because I remember back when I had a P sticker, I was impressed by how generous our drivers were in giving way (I do the same to other drivers now). when i went to KL with my P sticker, my dad (and frens in KL) warned me how my P sticker wud get me bullied left right and centre and by jove, they were right! Okay, aside general courtesy, I also realise that Malaccans drive slower and usually keep a very healthy distance from the car in front (remarked by my KL and JB colleagues); making it quite easy to change lane if required. The only Malaccan drivers I find fault with are usually young people, usually a carful of them.

nissy said...

i totally disagree. ;)

k0k s3n w4i said...

nis: reasons?

nissy said...

not to forget, roads in melaka is absurd. how can a normal driver drive in melaka for the 1st time without breaking rules.
you can see 'jln sehala' signs here and there and traffic lights appears at random places.

k0k s3n w4i said...

nis: u do realise that the examples I've given have nothing to do with the people perpetrating them not knowing the road?

nissy said...

well, have you rule out "w" car plates user could be malaccan themselves?

k0k s3n w4i said...

nis: i myself drive a 'W'. I do not discount the possibility but the odds are good that a 'W' car is from KL - or at least, not native Malaccan. Sit in either a JB'ian or KLite car - you'll seriously see a diff.

nissy said...

to prove my point

see this picture

acura said...

I am a W plate driver, I must admit we are being stereotyped into becoming rude & inconsiderate drivers because of a few (okay, maybe more than a few) bad apples haha

Like when I did not signal when changing lanes, my friend from another state will say - all you KL drivers never signal.

k0k s3n w4i said...

nissy: Photoshopped! Okay, seriously - a picture doesn't prove the rule. I showed pictures of one car too, I agree, but I gave my reason for believing that Malaccan drivers are politer than drivers from out of state. Besides, I will also need the context in which this picture was set. Was he trying to cross the red light cos there were no cars coming from the other lane? Did he overshot and figured that he ought to just stop there? We make mistakes. Which was why I never said Malaccans are better drivers. I said they were nicer. You proved the point that that car stopped past the line. You did not disprove my premise :) back to you

acura: A W driver speaks out! Well, there's a reason why I did not cite reasons like not switching on the signal before turning or making illegal U-turns to prove my case. I believe all drivers have done one of those at some time or other. What I like to focus on is politeness :)

sharkling said...

hmm i remember one of ur posts putting down 'depressed' people as weaker, with a lack of will power. are u sure u wanna specialise in psychiatry if tat's ur viewpoint of said people? u'd lack the empathy even from the get-go.

k0k s3n w4i said...

sharkling: hmm i remember one of ur posts putting down 'depressed' people as weaker, with a lack of will power" Sigh, read that post again. I never said those things. Those are simply the conclusions you made about me from my words, and also, I've never asserted that everything I said was infallible... lest it sounds like I'm copping out, let me quote myself from that same post you're talking about;
"I like to think this but I may be wrong"
Also, I do not deal with absolutes. There's depression, and then there's clinical depression - with overt dangers of suicidal tendencies. I do not doubt the fact that depression is real, or that it hurts. All I did was propose the idea that depression is partly caused by a person's personality and/or view of life (or as ye ole psych textbooks say; there is a familial/genetic/personality tendency for depression). I am not about to tell a depressed patient to "dry up and get a hold of yourself" (I have indeed interviewed a few). No one has ever accused me of being inflexible or stubborn about things - and when it comes to being considerate and empathetic about people's needs, no one can say I do not try my best. Again, I'm not saying I'm an all round great guy either. All I said was that I am very interested in the subject, and I'm considering a specialty in it (and again, to give you an idea of what sort of person I am - for I'm sure it's pretty hard to get a 3 dimensional picture from my posts - every single person I've talked to about my intention in specialising in psychiatry told me that it seems like a suitable thing for me to do, or that they expected it). Thanks for playing, btw

Anonymous said...

Malaccans driver are more polite and patient as compared to all the places that I've been to especially KL, Johor, and Penang! Penang drivers are rude and impatient!! They will not give way and horn like an a55hole. I agree with your points, ethics come first when comes to driving on the's all about human's life, dont feel regret only when something bad happens.