I am always thinking the worst of everything. Before I returned the rented VCDs to VideoEzy days ago, I imagined with great indignation how the staff would refuse to exchange my faulty Forrest Gump (it played like a mime) for a working one. Would they believe my story? Would they put the blame on my player? I mentally formulated my replies, edited them ten times over so they would be foolproof, and carefully measured out the tone and expression I would use in order to look formidable.
I stomped into the shop, produced the fateful box, and said curtly with a sideways frown: “I am not able to play this.” I was almost trembling with excitement to recite my well-rehearsed lines in a voice loud enough for other customers to hear. I would give a long-overdue lecture on how unfair it was to consumers who can’t exchange a faulty VCD. Were they supposed to resign to their miserable fates? Were they expected to suffer in silence? I know my rights! Standing tall with hands akimbo, I would uphold justice for all the long-suffering consumers in Singapore.
The bespectacled man cast a cursory glance at the box I clutched oh so tightly in my hands and muttered his well-rehearsed lines quietly, “I’m sorry we don’t have another copy of this title. You can exchange it for another title, though.” I could go weak in my knees in shame. Weren’t they supposed to ask me 20 questions before saying no? Stumped for words, I snooped around the shelves; brows furrowed in mock urgency, and finally scurried away with Pan’s Labyrinth.
Today I got a missed call and text message from someone I interviewed for an article. He asked me to call him once I return to Singapore. I read the message while shopping in the behemoth Platinum Fashion Mall, and I started to feel queasy. The mad array of clothes screaming at me from all directions already made me giddy, and this was the last straw.
He was going to interrogate me on why I paraded that controversial sentence he said at the very first paragraph of my story. He’d ask if I knew my journalistic ethics, and if I knew the grave repercussions that portentous sentence might bring. I must brace myself to receive his lawyer’s letter. My palms went cold and my stomach churned. I was in no mood to shop and floated around the mall like a weightless ghost. Not wanting my mother to worry, I blamed the strong air-conditioning for my icy palms.
I get home. With unprecedented dread and trepidation I telephone him, deliberately closing my room door so nobody could overhear the scandalous conversation.
It transpired that he wanted the contact details of the magazine so he could send in publicity material. My eyes nearly watered with relief.
I wonder where the problem lies. Is it me, or is it the world? How do I stop suspecting the motives of others? I think I have sufficient grounds to suspect that my rose-coloured glasses were stolen by shady characters out to ruin my life.