Precious Water

Precious Water
Water, essence of life

Friday, 21 June 2013

Whistle blowing, possible solution to road rage

It was reported in the local news that every four days, there is an officially reported case of road rage in Singapore. There must be many cases which go unreported as well, typically accompanied by expletives and finger pointing (middle being the favourite), short of physical blows. 

On this small footprint of 710 sq metres, there are about a million vehicles, inclusive of 606,280 private cars. In 2010, there were 63 cases of road rage. Fast forward 2 years, we registered 97 cases. Why so high? Maybe it is because motor vehicles are so expensively personal that the natural reflex is to flex one’s muscles. That’s exactly what a berserk motorist did recently when he went up to victim vehicle, use back of his right hand and I quote: “rap the front windscreen” as reported in ST 8Jun13.

Thankfully, the victim locked himself in his car. Whatever, the windscreen cracked.

The road bully, with violent track record, was promptly sent to jail for a week. If you, like me, have a short fuse to begin with (although one’s own children and aging have a positive effect on growing fuse length rather quickly), I may possibly have the solution for you before you land up in hot soup.

As a standard procedure, I always have with me a whistle and a small torch whenever I travel overseas. For the Wife, it’s her small alarm clock. Never mind now that smart phone has torch and alarm features. We are all creatures of habit. Just the other day, I asked my cyclist buddy if he brought along his camera for a Kodak moment. He whipped out his iPhone and I felt so silly.  

The whistle would accompany me during the day when I am on the move. The idea is to have ability to draw attention when needed. My torch sits next to my bed, never my hand phone. I am not a great fan of electronic-magnetic-current, real or imagined, doing a slow cook on whatever limited grey cells left. In case of any light related emergency, I have vision, ready on hand.

This is my 1st generation whistle. I believe it is the same type carried by our old Police Force. When blown, it gives a hollow sound. 

Several years ago, we were in a queue, waiting to get past immigration at Taipei International Airport. Taiwanese are orderly and courteous. Along came this man, a tour guide, waving a flag high. He barged in, ahead of the queue, merrily directed his group of passengers to jump queue thinking the rest behind will be too civilised to object. True enough, all kept quiet, maybe shocked to say anything.

A local Taiwanese raised his voice and shouted: páiduì. I was a few places behind and immediately joined in unison. They were oblivious, not caring a s@!% while a few of us were tenors in harmony by then. It did not work because this was a bunch of tourists from mainland China. The guy who shouted Páiduì up the ante, drew out a whistle and man, he blew. I was tempted to pull out my thingy too until the Wife gave a stabbing glare that read: “don’t you ever pull out that whistle of yours”.

Blowing a whistle in an airport must be the most delightful method to draw attention. Before long, a policeman came and asked about. By this time, the tour guide retreated, instructing his guests to join at back of queue. So it was that a humble whistle saved the day, putting a check on unacceptable behaviour.

Following that incident, I upgraded my whistle to a slicker version with a less hollow sound. It was fine but still sounded timid. 

About 1 year ago, I chanced upon someone who bought a whistle at National Geographic store at Vivocity (exited since then). I was curious and took a close look at the packaging. It reads: “Extremely efficient and easy to blow with a superior clear loud blast. It’s multi-coloured with an attractive lanyard”. The real clinger for me was the phrase “EXCEEDS 120dB. Do not whistle directly into a person’s ear”. At 120dB, it’s about the sound of an ambulance siren or at a loud rock concert. 

Based on specifications and for someone with a minor hearing impairment, this is my perfect whistle short of an air-horn. It’s rubbery based, rust proof, maintenance free, made in Canada.

I bought 10 pieces, gave most away to my daughter’s friends (ladies only) studying abroad. It makes for a great personal safety companion because the pitch will scare the s*&$ of anyone who tries to be funny.    

This is my ultimate whistle, guarantee to draw attention. 

Exceeds 120 dB. Remember not to blow into  your spouse's ear! 

Several months ago, on our way back to Singapore from Hǎikǒu, Hainan, a handful of passengers tried to cut queue, getting into the plane. Instinctively, I shouted: páiduì. Sheepishly they backed off and I missed putting my new found weapon to use. The Wife smiled, nodded approvingly.

Another reason why I needed to upgrade my whistle is that I have to drive pass Aljunied Rd/Lorong 22, Geylang on work days. Food is wonderfully good there including 24 hour “tau huey” at Lorong 24A.

The traffic eco-system there is chaotic and stressful. You have pedestrians who attempt to cross roads even when signal is not in their favour. Pedestrians who are caught on middle island of roads. You have cyclists who salmon-ed against normal traffic flow. It is also common to have cyclists glued to handphones talking, cycling one handed. And, yes reckless e-bikes.

If you happen to spot a motorist in Geylang area in the evening with what looks like a pacifier in the mouth, it is quite likely to be me.  Car honks pale in comparison to my new found whistle. Here, no one cares a hoot about car toots.  

So back to the issue of road rage, what can you do to curtail that temptation of throwing a punch when your ego is challenged and possibly bruised whilst driving? Here is my step-by-step recipe to stay out of trouble.

  • Go get yourself a FOX40 whistle, under $10.
  • Give away the colourful lanyard.
  • Give whistle a wash using water and vinegar.
  • Place whistle in your car, preferably a spot readily within reach.
Every time you feel you need to scold or swear at an idiotic motorist, stuff that thingy into your mouth and blow till your heart’s content.  

Imagine or use whatever expletives you like; no worries. All will be safely translated to one tone. If you are absolutely disgusted, simply blow hard and loud, preferably holding on to that whistle so no fingers are pointed in the wrong direction. Just remember to lower your side window and try not to blow in the direction of the Wife! 

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