I’m very fond of my dad for a number of reasons. Of late I’ve been particularly impressed by his knack of calling out people and things that don’t make sense to him.
He told off a young couple for necking on the MRT in full view of little kids, and for inconveniencing other commuters by carrying out their canoodling against a grab pole. When he came across a chap in Jurong Point who was texting on his (huge Android) phone whilst holding it over the bannisters overlooking an atrium on the ground floor, he lectured him for potentially endangering the people below. “What if someone knocks you from behind? If you drop your heavy phone on those salesgirls, they could even be killed!” According to Dad, the young man gave him a nervous laugh and then walked away with some haste.
(And that’s just the recap from last Sunday.)
A couple of months ago, the town council installed a solid iron bicycle rack in the void deck of my parents’ flat. It would have been an excellent public service, except that the first row of the bike rack had been bolted just around a blind corner. So Dad made a lot of phone calls. He explained to what must have been far too many public servants that a void deck was a place where children run around, and that it was extremely likely that a kid could charge full-speed into the new bike rack and hurt himself very badly indeed. He didn’t stop calling until the town council – or was it the HDB? – sent a couple of people down to look at the bicycle rack for themselves, whereupon they realised that my dad was quite right in his risk assessment. They took down that first row of the rack within the week.
Frankly, I imagine that those on the receiving end of my dad’s complaints find him a bit of a nuisance. He’s the very archetype of the retiree with lots opinions and lots of time on his hands. If he comes across “youngsters” being rude or inconsiderate, he speaks to them very bluntly, as is the wont of elderly folks in such situations. But as far as I know, he’s only outright loud or unpleasant to people whose actions pose a danger to others. I have faith enough in Dad’s powers of discernment to believe that the offending parties in those instances fully deserve what’s coming to them.
I seem to remember my childhood as a time when my parents were generally don’t-rock-the-boat sort of people. The kind who placed a value on conformity, and who preferred that I fit in rather than stand out. I’ve no idea what changed Dad, but I do know that it’s also made a difference in how he and I relate to each other. When I was 16, he still vaguely hoped I’d someday take up a respectable profession like law. Yet, by the time I left for university at 20, his worldview had evolved somewhat; he even took pains to assure me that I shouldn’t be afraid to start my own venture or take up an unconventional career choice after graduation. Even now, Dad doesn’t always understand the things that I do, but he tries. He was also a lot more supportive of #freemylibrary than I expected.
So yes. My dad’s a troublemaker. And I’m very glad he is, because it’s no fun being the only one in the family.