Let’s be mindful of our behaviour


THE following incidents happened barely two weeks after I wrote the column on respecting the queue. I am compelled to recount these stories as I feel it is pertinent to inculcate a sense of civic consciousness in society. Of course, I can ignore them and go on my merry way but that will not change anything. It is my hope that these stories will compel us to think of our actions in relation to those around us.

The time was 7.39am. The train had just pulled into the terminal at the airport. The place was already abuzz with activity. Passengers streamed out from the carriages. Some headed for the escalators while others with heavy luggage in tow opted for the elevators.

Waiting together with me were several female cabin crew from different airlines in their distinct uniforms, a young pilot, and a few airport staff. There were also a couple of travellers catching a morning flight to somewhere.

When the elevator car finally arrived, most of us stood aside to let the passengers inside come out. A woman who was waiting behind me pushed her way through, ignoring the people who were walking out and interrupting the flow.

“Can you please let the others come out first before going in?” I chided her. But she appeared oblivious to my reproach. In all probability, she did not understand English as I had overheard her asking the pilot something in Mandarin earlier.

Regardless of the language barrier, jumping queue like that is anti-social behaviour no matter which country one is from. We were all rushing to clock in for work or check-in for our flights. Getting into the elevator first would not make one arrive at the intended floor any faster. Neither would missing it delay one’s time substantially.

When using public facilities, we should not be thinking of only ourselves but be mindful of other people’s comfort as well. Forcing oneself into the elevator while those inside are coming out is plain rude and disrespectful of those who were already waiting in line.

Several shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur have posted signs at elevator lobbies to remind patrons to give priority to disabled and older people, and families with young children and prams. It is a sad reflection on society when adults have to be reminded to extend courtesy to others. This is a value we all should have learnt at a young age and practising as adults. Still people ignore the signs and rush into the elevators as soon as the doors open.

Even as a disabled person, I wait in line like everyone else. I do not use my very obvious impairment as a privilege to jump queue. Many times, the person in front would offer to let me go first. I usually decline.

Everyone’s time is as precious as mine. I should not expect other people to give up their time for my convenience. There were times when I had to wait 20 minutes as each time the elevator doors opened, it was packed full.

This other incident happened at a shopping mall. The elevator was full when the doors opened. The people inside made their way out one by one. I noticed this young man standing inside fiddling with his smartphone.

Just as the last but one passenger got out and I was halfway making my way in, the doors closed on me with a loud thunk as they hit my wheels. I could hear a few people behind me gasping in reaction. The young man inside made no attempt to reach for the control panel to press the button to keep the doors open.

Someone from behind held the door to allow me to make my way in. The young man was still rooted to the same corner inside the elevator too preoccupied with his device to bother. This is another example of anti-social behaviour.

Yes, we are not paid to man the elevator but it is proper etiquette to hold the door for other people to get in or out. Imagine if an older person were to be knocked off balance by the closing door and fell. It could have caused serious injuries as they have slower reactions and bones that are more brittle.

The same goes to people who stand right beside the control panel but do nothing to hold the door open. I have come across kids who have better sense and upbringing. They were taught to keep the doors open until everyone has gotten out or in.

Another pet peeve with elevators is the door opening to a crowd of shoppers with their laden trolleys and baby prams blocking the exit. They would usually refuse to make way for me. I would stop there and wait for them to move aside. When they realised that they would not be able to get in with me in the way, they would reluctantly make space.

A little consideration can go a long way in making society a better place for everyone. We should all take stock of how we act and interact in society to ensure that we do not practise anti-social behaviours that will inconvenience and deprive others of their enjoyment and use of public facilities. Let’s all be mindful of this. We can play our part in making society better for all, including ourselves.