Mike Rowse seems to be a rare dose of common sense on the opinion pages of the SCMP, and today his subject is the craziness that descends on the city when there’s a bit of rain and some strong winds:
Joy at time off thanks to weather is misguided - and just where was the weather anyway?
After reviewing recent events, I have concluded I may be going slightly crazy. That is not as bad as it sounds, because I am not alone.
Take this matter of the typhoon that passed by this week. As soon as the news spread that the No8 storm signal was likely to go up on Monday evening, people in the office started smiling at one another as if some kind of secret pleasure was 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 jobs, or pupils who are facing a test, might welcome an unscheduled day off. But why were those who enjoy what they do getting excited, too? It must be the idea of "getting something for nothing" that is so captivating.
So, stay in bed until late then? Well, no, the 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 earlier than usual, and by the time the Observatory has confirmed the No8 is likely to stay up till mid-morning and school is cancelled, there is no point in going back to bed as I am wide awake.
Next comes a check of the work diary. The most urgent items won't wait and can be done only in the office. Off to the office anyway …
Dress casually because meetings will be cancelled and no one else will be there? That won't work because the signal is going to come down mid-morning and then everyone else will drag themselves back in. So shave and dress as usual. The roads are clear; travelling in is easier than usual. Bit of rain and wind, but nothing exceptional; in an urban environment, there does not seem much difference between No3 and No8.
Will there be newspapers? God bless them, yes! The free sheet has been delivered to our block, and the 7-Eleven for once has the Post available. A Frenchman is outside trying to get a taxi, but they all want HK$150 for a HK$30 trip.
Cannot bear the idea of the pirates getting away with this, so give him a lift despite his nationality.
What about coffee? Yes, 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. Normality seems to have been turned on its head - unless it's me? Whoever could have designed such a system? 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 is managing director of Stanton Chase International and an adjunct professor at Chinese University. email@example.com