Number Eight Up!


After reviewing carefully recent events, I have concluded that I may be going slightly crazy. That is not as bad as it sounds, because I know I am not alone.

Take this matter of the typhoon which passed by Hong Kong earlier this week. As soon as the news spread that the number eight storm signal was likely to go up during the Monday evening, people in the office started smiling at each other as if there was some kind of secret pleasure imminent. We might all get the following day off without the need to deduct it from our holiday balance.

What was strange was that the feeling was shared even by those who really like going to work. You can understand why people who dislike their job, or students who are struggling at school or who face a test, might welcome an unscheduled day off. But what about those who enjoy what they do, why were they excited too? I think it must be the idea of “getting something for nothing” which is so captivating.

So stay in bed until late then? Well no, first priority is to find out what signal is still up the next morning so as to establish whether it is necessary to take the children to school. That actually means waking up slightly earlier than usual, and by the time the Observatory has confirmed that the number eight is likely to stay up until mid-morning and school is cancelled, there is no point in going back to bed as I am wide awake.

Next comes a review of the diary to see what tasks must be completed during the remainder of the day. Wait until the signals are down, then go in and try to catch up? No, won’t work, some of the material needed cannot be accessed from here. The most urgent items won’t wait and can only be done in the office. Not for the first time then, off to the office anyway.

Dress casually because meetings will be cancelled and no-one else will be there? Well no, that won’t work either because the signal is going to come down mid-morning and then everyone else will reluctantly drag themselves back in. So shave and dress as usual. No problem travelling in. Roads are open, even easier than usual. Bit of rain and wind, but nothing exceptional, in an urban environment there doesn’t seem much difference between number three and number eight anyway.

Will there be newspapers? God bless them, yes! The free one has been delivered to our residential block, and the 711 has for once managed to have the paid one available. There is a Frenchman waiting outside the store trying to get a taxi but they all want $150 for a $30 trip. Can’t bear the idea of the pirates getting away with this so give him a lift despite his nationality.

What about coffee? Yes, the Starbucks is open and God bless them too, a cappuccino can be had for the usual price.

And slowly it comes to me: everything is working normally except those bits of the community that have been told by the government not to. There must be a better way than this, I tell myself. Whoever could have designed a system like this? I’ll soon find out. When they put me away in the padded cell, I’ll just look in the room next door.


 
Mike Rowse
email: mike@rowse.com.hk