Like any complex social/natural environment, there are things and experiences in Hong Kong we wish weren't here. If this was the most pristine virgin rainforest, we'd still have the opportunity to complain about the spiders, leeches, mosquitoes etc. Not that I'm equating people in TST hawking suits and watches with low-lifes, because I don't. But they are part of the ecosystem and exist for a reason, if only because that's how they survive. Not everyone can live at the top of the food chain.
Any one of these people would very likely swap places with us in a heartbeat. I've known some very pushy real estate agents who are nauseated by what they do, but they feel they have to do it anyway (of course, sometimes that's because they "need" to get the latest smartphone or handbag, but I'm not going to judge their reasons if they think these things are important). Most of them would love to have gone to university and have started a different career, while others are uni graduates who are attracted by the promise of real estate riches and are trying to make a go of it. And if that means starting from the bottom and going out to a new estate to ambush both prospective and highly-unprospective buyers because the boss told them to, then so be it. They ready to pay their dues.
Another example is the guys in the flat above me who are, as I write, riding two mini-jackhammers about 4 feet from my head. It's been going on for 3 weeks and I can't for the life of me imagine why so much demolition is needed. But they have the right to do this work at their client's request, and I have to put up with it until 6pm each day. I stay at home pretty much 24/7 and I get extremely angry at times when I think about how these guys ruining my lifestyle. Mrs and Miss Doe and I all wear hearing protection throughout the day - except for lunch times when we have the pleasure of listening to the latest Cantopop songs while the workers upstairs chow down on their lunchboxes.
This is all part of living within the ecosystem of this urban jungle. There are rules, and I'm grateful they exist. I don't like having to grimace every time my guys hit a particularly gnarly piece of concrete and rev their machines up past 11, but I know that if they had a choice of better paying jobs without the respiratory problems they're probably already experiencing, they'd go for them at once. For me to complain over a temporary inconvenience is pretty pathetic on my part, even though to be totally honest I'm not at this moment a happy camper at all. That's life and it's not always perfect. But it is usually survivable, which is the thing.
Ideally, we become better people because we can weather what is - at the end of the day - pretty easy stuff to weather. Saying a firm "No thanks" to a tout - and even smiling as we do it - is much easier than trying to survive as they must, and a whole lot more civilized than selfishly taking out the violation of our precious sensitivities on some poor dude who has probably already been burned by foul-mouthed foreigners for much of the morning. We have nothing to complain about and the least we can do is show some understanding. That's our minimum contribution.
All that said, the tactics of the more successful touts can be as intimidating as they are effective. Sometimes you can easily end up sitting in one of their shops sipping tea and buying things you would never have bought if you'd had more time and space for objective reflection. Afterwards you can feel pretty dumb, and badly wronged.
Yet any locals who heard about your situation wouldn't give you much pity. They'd scold you for being so stupid. They'd be doing this to be helpful, mind you, and to show they care, even though you could easily mistake it for callousness. Here in Hong Kong, ultimate responsibility lays with you (that's really the key to understanding the laws of the jungle here), and that is what they are trying to reinforce in our thick heads, just as they do with their own kids. Tough love? Perhaps. But it's highly practical.
Like anywhere else, you have to take the good with the bad. Do you like to shop in Hong Kong? Then you've got to deal with touts. Like to take advantage of the tax system here? Then you have to suck in the pollution. It's trite to say you don't have to come here or stay long at all if you don't like it. But there is an undeniable truth to that way of thinking.
We're all grown-ups and we come across experiences that either make us more grown up than before, or send us back to our childish ways. Hong Kong is not a place for the socially immature or for those who lack the street-smarts that other places might reward or which will protect you against your own simple-mindedness. The good thing is, if you learn quickly, the tuition fee doesn't have to be that much compared to the value of what you'll learn.
Think of these situations as growing opportunities, and you'll be a better person for it. Even if you must kick, scream and complain as you go. That's okay. Just don't throw up your arms and say life is unjust or unfair. Actually, it is. But not against you - it's the other guys who have the much bigger problems.
The question is, Is your world - or ecosystem - big and rich enough to allow them a place to live as best they can? They are people, too, after all.
Ahhh ... Cantopop - must be lunch time.
Last edited by John Doe Jr; 02-04-2011 at 01:10 PM.
Obviously, they were involved in the scam so they've already learned what needs to be learnt. Why would the OP need you to tell her to learn her lesson?
To be human and not animal is to have a fine guideline between what hurts another human being and what doesn't in order to survive. If that fine line is crossed, and you tolerate such crossing, then the society as a whole will falter because they see no need to behave otherwise since no form of discouragement (ie. punishment) is involved in their action.
Speaking on behalf of the 'things as they are' and tolerating scam is a bit too much. There's physical harm that we have set laws for, but the emotional harm it deals cannot be compensated by merely feeling sympathetic with the scammers.
Reminds me of chicken for the soup type stories of the girl being raped by a man but lets him because he is the way he is, and then the man somehow realized his wrongdoing and leave.
If I were the girl, I'd find ways to kill the rapist so he doesn't rape another female.
Note that the OP wasn't crying about her incident. She was trying warn other females and find methods to punish the scammer.
Last edited by Creative83; 02-04-2011 at 02:35 PM.
Second, the whole point of my comment was that many of us have to toughen up a bit to live in Hong Kong, particularly if we come from places that are "friendlier" and more sensitive to how people feel. Apart from minor annoyance, why do you need to make a big issue out of these things? It's life and no special histrionics are required, nor is it necessary to be disrespectful towards people who are not as fortunate as you.
You may well be far more experienced with how things operate in Hong Kong, but from my personal experience people here do not show sympathy as much as tell you to buck up and don't be so foolish next time. If you have had different experiences, then that's fine.
The point is that we can't - and often shouldn't - try to fix every misdemeanour we come across for fear that other's might be upset by it or that you might be perpetuating a crime. Rape is entirely different. That's why it's not relevant to what we're discussing.
How about people stepping on your toe in the MTR? Or someone elbowing you as they try to get out? What about people who spit next to you? O someone who honks their horn when it is illegal to do so, which is most of the time? Touts are part of the scene and our response to them - both strategically, emotionally and courtesy-wise - is what I'm interested in discussing.
Some people have recommended or condoned rude and arrogant behaviour. I suggested a different approach and explained my reasons.
As I said before, if we were in a wonderful natural place like an undisturbed forest, some people are going to get upset about all the bad things that exist there as part of the overall environment. You can try to fix everything just right if you want. But don't be surprised if things get out of balance and you end up denying someone an existence who deserves one just as much as you do.
You and I sit at the top of the food chain just by virtue of being able to spend time (and have the skills) to write these comments. Doesn't that make it our responsibility to try to put ourselves in the place of others who are not so fortunate?
Like I said, I don't like these things either. But I learn to live with them, just like everyone has to learn to live with things that upset them. That's called being an adult and living in a big city. And that's how many locals and others here in Hong Kong think about things.
If you have a different perspective, then tell us how you think we should live - and specifically how we should treat touts trying to make a living in TST. And don't equate them to rapists - that's not helpful to anyone.
The balance between giving people liberty to pursue their business and protecting other people from their excesses, is a tough one. I personally think Hong Kong has it pretty right, and it's a lot better than many other places around the world.
It does require a bit more maturity on our part, especially if we come from more considerate societies. I use the word "considerate" in an objective sense inasmuch as people here learn not to consider others as much as for their own sanity as for the other person's freedom to get on with things (often things they'd rather not do, if they had the choice).
I actually felt a lot of satisfaction locating the Hong Kong distributor of Howard Leight (by Sperian) protective ear-muffs. I bought the most heavy duty ones and while my head feels like it's in a vice when I wear them, they work better than the in-ear type buds at least for me.
Hopefully it won't be too much longer and things will move to proportionally more Cantopop and less jackhammer as the tile-layers move in and the demolition team heads out.
To be fair, these guys are very good at not starting before 9am and finishing just before 6pm. I only had to send the guard up once when they tried to do some drilling on a Sunday. That's not within the rules (but worth a go, I guess), and they were apologetic enough. Who knows what pressures they're under to finish asap ...
if you don't want to feel like a victim, you could go back with some 'friends' and 'ask' for your money back. no need to feel obligated to abide by the 'no refund' stamp since it doesn't sound like proper code of business was followed. but by the mere fact you haven't returned to this thread means you are sane enough not to do so.
I'm not going to go into details of arguments because that'll just isolate the readers here.
The point is
You have sympathy with pick pocketers and now you're okay with scammers.
Look at the facts, your mind is twisted.
The old lady recycling cardboard isn't stealing. The construction site worker is not stealing. The mentally retarded isn't stealing.
So much opportunities to survive.
You made it sound like if they don't steal other's money, they can't survive so hence you have to sympathize with them.
Ridiculous. Absolutely twisted.
You seem to be okay with this crime of aiding and abetting (or have your downloaded material yourself, too?).
Others might call this stealing. What do you call it?
Last edited by John Doe Jr; 02-04-2011 at 08:27 PM.
Should I divert my attention now and let you have your way? or should i not? Nah, I'd say I'm going to focus on your belief systems.
The scammed will feel betrayed and angry. The bystander will feel empathy and angry. By saying you feel sympathy for the scammers and pick pockers who hurt others for their gain, not to mention attempt to convince others of so, I simply can't trust you to be around people I'm close to. Why? Because it's not an authentic human behavior to root for those who schemed to steal your money for their gain.
Last edited by Creative83; 02-04-2011 at 09:43 PM.
I'll assume then that you approve of some kinds of stealing, such as illegal downloads of movies - and have engaged in them - but will show no sympathy to other forms of stealing. You have not explained why you adopt this difference in approach, apart from your usual excuse of not wanting to be distracted with details and irrelevancies.
Okay then, can you please return to my original question of how we should respond when approached by someone in Tsim Sha Tsui who offers to sell us a copy watch or a suit. You have not answered that question, which I believe is right on point.
I'm keen to know whether I should yell at them, be civil and/or call the police.
And just so I can continue to untwist my twisted mind (as you have kindly assessed it to be), would you please enlighten us on how to respond in the following related and therefore relevant scenarios [Note: I have utilised a numbering system to make it easier for you to respond (and for others to follow your logic) and also to make it more difficult for you to once again weasel out of giving us a substantive response]:
1. Approached by a prostitute in Temple Street
a. If you are a man, what is your idea of the correct response to a solicitation from a prostitute whose actions could be considered illegal?
b. If you are not a man, what would be the correct response - in your opinion - if your husband/boyfriend/brother/father were similarly approached?
c. Please explain if you would yell at the woman in question (and what you would yell), whether you would treat her with "sympathy" or "respect", and whether you would call the police.
d. How many of these women do you think want to do what they are doing? How lazy are they for not getting proper jobs like you?
2. Approached by a westerner touting watches or suits in TST
a. Being very honest with yourself and with us, would you respond any differently if the tout was not of the usual Indian or other Asian or African ethnicity?
b. If they were a westerner, do you think you'd be a bit more circumspect in your response and even curious to understand why they are doing something like this?
Let me also reiterate my position which may have been misrepresented by your attacks on the state of my mind.
Do I have sympathy for people who do illegal things? Yes. Unlike yourself, I am not without sin - and I readily acknowledge that it has largely been the quality of the circumstances in which I was born, grew up and have lived that have prevented me from doing worse things. It is called understanding the human condition.
Do I condone illegal acts? No. And my point is that a lot of the time the people who do these things would rather not be doing them either. If they had a choice they'd be doing something else. I have never said that any illegal act is okay. Which is different from you, because you believe copyright violations can sometimes be justified and even be encouraged, in the right circumstances, of course.
Would you like to swap your life with a tout or a prostitute and show them how they should be living their life? I personally don't think you would last very long or that your example would be very helpful at all. What is your response to that observation?
Or maybe you can just explain a bit more about your view of "... the scammer and pick pockers who can easily find themselves a legit job at lower compensation (and not die from it)." I'm getting really excited about your plan to clean up their lives and our streets! Please list these possible jobs which are so easy to get, including comparative remuneration levels - Though of course I understand that the burden of providing so much detail in substantiating your otherwise baseless generalisations may prove overwhelming for you. In which case, just a few well-chosen examples will suffice.
Is it important to keep in mind that these "scammers" and "pick pockets" are also human beings, and not just faceless members of some amorphous group of miscreant losers - who don't have a proper job like you because they're just too lazy to get one? Yes. To lose sight of people as individuals with their own personal histories and the same desire to live as you and me is the wrong way to go.
There are, of course, societies that do stamp out all kinds of undesirable conduct and who focus on particular groups and activities that they find offensive. Their justifications can be very imaginative, but usually it's based on the view that some people must be persecuted regardless of any mitigating factors that could exist in their favour, simply because such persecution is in the best interests of the greater majority of people in that society (ie the rule-makers).
You may like to join such a society if you feel some people do not meet your standards of behaviour. Fortunately, that kind of society doesn't exist yet in Hong Kong and hopefully never will.
And don't say that Hong Kong is going downhill fast because of the people on the streets in Hong Kong trying to sell us copy watches and suits. It would be entirely different if we were talking about the kinds of violent acts reported in many other cities around the world.
The police have a way of dealing with these situations (and with people like you), it's called focusing on more pressing and important issues.
I look forward to your response, as always.
Last edited by John Doe Jr; 03-04-2011 at 08:28 AM.