TV SMITH's Dua Sen: Turnstiles Of The Mind
TV Smith's Dua Sen
TV Smith's Dua Sen. The politically incorrect irregular columnist combines his idiosyncratic observations and tangential commentary into a blog...


by TV Smith

Social commentator and amateur psychologist TV Smith of Dua Sen ( examines the psyche of the last minute Malaysian and its impact on the coming elections…

Have most eligible Malaysians made up their minds about who to vote exactly a week to polling day? I doubt so. Not from the tickets sales of the coinciding Formula One event or by my observation of a reluctant habit that has become socially acceptable only recently. I know we still have people elbowing each other at the doors of subway trains but generally Malaysians have learned to queue. Even without the presence of baton brandishing riot policemen or giant reminder signs with flashing light bulbs.

Ironically, the enforced adoption of something positive may have festered a conflicting and latent sadistic trait in many. We curse at the inefficient service behind counters but when it comes to our turn, we make life as miserable as possible for the fellow sufferers waiting behind us. A twisted notion of 'payback time' or a simple case of putting everything to the last minute as we always do? Witness this:

At toll plazas. There will always be one car holding up each queue during peak hours. Upon reaching the booth, the driver can be seen fumbling and looking for coins all over the car. Those using 'touch n go' cards start to flip visors or dig for the wallet only at the very last second. No, it didn't occur to anyone crawling earlier that payment is required at the toll booths.

At self-service restaurants. Woe befalls the person who gets stuck behind a happy family ordering a happy meal. Entire families are known to discard their collective thinking cap while waiting in line. Minutes later, they inevitably break down in front of the cashier when confronted with nerve-wrecking decisions like whether to have extra cheese to go with the burgers. Somehow, this slow-moving dysfunctional family drama only happens when you're behind and waiting to buy just one cup of coke.

At cinemas. On thrifty Wednesdays, the lines are understandably long at the box office due to discounted tickets. Lovey-dovey couples queue patiently and silently, happy that they will be saving a few ringgit. Their joy is often short-lived as their choice of movie or seats becomes unavailable. Five minutes become like five hours when you are waiting behind an indecisive couple grappling with last-minute alternatives at the ticket window.

At supermarkets. Many husbands and wives hold minimal conversations until they become the reigning king and queen of the checkout lane. Upon ascension to the stainless steel throne, they openly debate the merit of credit over cash, oblivious to the eavesdropping, grocery-laden strangers breathing heavily behind. When the delicate deliberations are finally over, the wife is duty-bound to delay the transaction for another lifetime. She proceeds to rummage through her handbag for the proverbial joker in the pack; the precious loyalty card.

Those pesky canvassing agents at polling centers may have already weigh through the self-handicapping mindset of last minute Malaysians. Whether it is habitual hesitation or self-serving indifference, all they need is a little last-minute push to help them through the intractable, creaky turnstiles of the mind.

This article also appears in print and online in today's StarMag (The Sunday Star).

© 2004 TV SMITH
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