My i-pod broke. I had to take it to be repaired.

Clearly this is not particularly interesting to the general population. What is interesting, however, is the display of total unawareness I witnessed whilst doing so. The repair centre was in quite a small room. After getting my number from the ticket machine, I found a place to sit and awaited my turn. The room was no bigger than 500 square feet; so about enough room for a Hong Kong family of 17 and an English sheep dog, to live.

My issue was the calling of the numbers. I can be a bit over anxious about ticketing systems – despite having A273 and the electronic board saying “now serving A112” – I kept checking my docket each time the next announcement was made; as if it could possibly morph into a better, closer number.

However, the other patrons waiting with me definitely did not have this personality disorder. As I sat waiting in a shoebox size room, numbers were both flashed up on a screen as well as announced over the loudspeaker. Incredibly, 3 out of 5 times (yes, I sadly kept a record) the person with the winning ticket did not respond in a reasonable amount of time. Sometimes the sales girl would stand up and shout the number out several times before someone would finally glance up and wander over.

One lady, who was busy surfing the internet on the public computer, upon hearing her number called, told the salesgirl to “wait a bit” – she wanted to finish watching the YouTube clip of a polar bear making tea for penguins, or whatever vital net surfing she was doing.

All of this was bewildering. I understand that at the immigration office for example, the room is like a football field and it’s entirely conceivable you could miss your number, but when you are in a room you could hardly swing a cat in – and in direct proximity to the staff – sorry, I don’t get it.  The sole purpose of your visit is to get to that desk, yet apathy and disinterest seemed to be the benchmark behaviour.  I suppose what’s just as intriguing is the effort the staff made to find the wayward ticket holders, all sitting happily unaware 10 feet away. I would have been moving on very quickly had I been in charge of the number button.

Still, I do have to confess I also do inexplicable things at times. Take the example of trying to explain to a caller that the phone line is bad. I do this all the time.“ Hey Dave, can’t hear you buddy, you’re breaking up. Can you hang up and get back to me? The line is stuffed, can you hear me buddy?”

Of course, he is probably hearing “ You…can…get…stuffed…buddy”

Maybe I should be less attentive with numbers being called and more ready to cut off bad phone lines, In any event, Dave now won’t talk to me and apparently putting your i-pod through the washing machine isn’t a warranty job.  But it was worth the visit just to add another chapter to the book of Hong Kong idiosyncrasies.

About Tim

I'm an expat dad, living in Hong Kong. Being a parent, especially a dad, is simply fraught with danger. Mums seem to have this built-in radar for trouble and danger - I do not. http://beingdadinasia.com - all about my life, being dad. http://achipofftheoldblog - all about the funny and strange things I see. View all posts by Tim

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