The shouting man

I was headed to the MRT station from school today when I heard a man shouting at a bunch of senior students from my school.  Curious as to what exactly he was spouting (perhaps he was complaining about certain inconsiderate actions the students were guilty of), I stopped for a moment to listen to what he had to say.

It soon became clear, however, that his grievances had little to do with the students themselves. The man was angrily telling them that the whole lot of them were born with silver spoons in their mouths, that these evil elite institutions had no right to exist, that the students’ powerful gahmen parents had screwed up the way the country was being run real bad. I’m not sure what I would have done in the past – I’m ashamed to admit that I’d probably have done the Singaporean thing and just walked on by – but now that I was an employee of the school, I decided to intervene.

“Excuse me sir, could you please stop shouting at the students?” I asked. Perhaps not the best start, but I managed to deflect his attention from them (whom I signalled to walk away quickly). He continued shouting at me for awhile, and although initially irritated with him, I gradually came to sympathise with him. Clearly, the man must have been under a tremendous amount of stress. I started trying to talk to him instead, to enquire about the source of his pain, as we started walking towards the train station.

I never did find out what was bothering him so deeply in the few minutes that ensued, but by the time we reached the station his volume had gone down noticeably. I wasn’t able to help him in any concrete way during this brief encounter, but I do hope that my (rather minimal) show of concern and willingness to hear his thoughts helped him in his troubled state.


Posted on July 9, 2009, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. vanilla sister

    wow this is unnerving. but i think you did the Right Thing and pretty much all you could under the circumstances… if a teacher rescued me from being shouted at by an angry man he/she would probably be my hero for a while :P

    what scares me though is that Shouting Man is definitely far far far from being the only one of his kind in singapore, but then again perhaps it happens in other countries too? (london is too full of generally crazy angry people for me to tell)

    • it reminded me a bit of the guy who’d set an MP on fire. though on an obviously much smaller scale. still, the general concept’s pretty similar – pent-up frustration taken out on whoever they can lash out against.

      i’m wondering whether it’s a signal that there’s something wrong with our present society, or if these are unavoidable aberrations that pop up in every society?

  2. Wow, the courage!

    Is it similar to the HK uncle incident years ago? Except no one confronted him on the bus and he got recorded on youtube and humiliated by all media.

  3. good job! he was shouting in english? sometimes i run into similar situations but the people always seem to be mouthing off in some form of chinese so it’s a bit harder to do anything… they might not understand and just get more agitated. glad it wasn’t the case for you

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