No man is perfect. There's both blackish evil and whitish good in everyone of us. In reality, vast majority of man is in a shade of grey. So, characters who are devilish evil or angelling good stands out like sour thumps and grab my attention instantaneously.
I took a few such characters lately in my cab, and here is my true stories based on actual encounters with real life characters in Singapore.
First, the evil...
A few weeks ago I worked a Saturday night shift, something I rarely do anymore even though it's the best money night. And it provided me with both of these stories from the dark side.
Here is the true story
They were well-dressed forty-somethings Caucasian who had emerged from a restaurant in The Singapore Island Country Club at Island Club Road. The man abruptly barked their destination - The Sail - without saying the word "please", like I'm not a person at all. Lack of manners is something I'm quite accustomed to, so I gave them my silent treatment.
Their initial conversation was about the dinner party in a civil tone. And then the inept man, causally mentioned to his wife that she should've chat it up more intimately with a particular business man whom he thought could be an invaluable asset in her future business.
This one statement was all it took to ignite the atomic bomb. ("Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned"). She began to attack him like an enraged black bear, bent on eating him up. Her fury would have rippled even Jack the Ripper. It was utterly insulting to her that he should imply that she didn't know what she was doing at the party.
She screamed at him "What have you ever done in life? What have you ever accomplished? How dare you made that suggestion? You brainless, thoughtless, idiot!!!
Like an fish caught in a net, he tried to apologize, to wiggle free. But she went in for the kill.
"That was your fatal mistake," she snarled. "I'm cutting you out! You're getting nothing! And there will be no second child."
"What do you mean?" the man asked in a kind of stunned apathy.
"I'm getting rid of it," she proclaimed coolly. There was no sadness or regret in her voice.
Obviously, she controlled the purse strings in their relationship - she was the one with the money.
Glancing at him in the mirror, he resembled a wretched dog, prostrated under the paws of a black bear, with no retaliatory power, waiting to be devoured at her mercy.
After they left, I drove away with some thoughts.
Firstly, the amazement at how a simple comment could turn out so destructive in a relationship that has no love and respect. A comment that could even kill an unborn child. So evilly cruel!
Secondly, I've the gut feeling that someday he's going to murder her.
Finally, in real life, there are actual characters like those in the play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and this couple is a clear example of the evil type. If you drive a cab long enough, everybody in the play eventually shows up - even people who had previously existed only in your mind.
The Angels Among Us
I sometimes wonder how can human race has among its members evil ones like the above and angles like these below...
Several months ago, in the dead of the night, I picked up a middle-aged woman at 3 a.m. along Shenton Way. It turned out she was a lawyer.
Now, like some adults, I'm cynical about lawyers but this one was different. The first thing I noticed about her was her manners. She said "hello" and told me her destination and asked me if it would be okay with me if we made a stop en-route. I told her that of course would be no problem and expressed my appreciation that she had asked my permission even though she didn't have to.
I soon learned why she wanted to make a stop in the middle of the night. She wanted to personally deliver paperwork she had been preparing to help a recently widowed woman whose HDB flat was not insured under Mortgage Reducing Scheme (MRI). The paperwork had to do with red tape hurdles that needed to be cleared in order that this woman would not loss her flat. I also learned that she does this legal work pro bono (for free) as a matter of conscience.
I realized that this lady lawyer showed kindness, concern and empathy when she didn't have to, traits that came naturally from within. I perceived no grey here. She was all good.
After she left, another exemplary lawyer in Singapore came to my mind. He is Mr. M Ravi, Singapore’s only human rights lawyer. He could have become a successful corporate lawyer, instead he chose to become the lawyer to the poor and marginalized, the only lawyer who will take on the death penalty cases. Thanks to M.Ravi, poor drug mules no longer automatically face the death penalty and will now have a second chance to turn their lives around.(Link)
In looking back at these two fares, I see the extreme ends of the spectrum of human characters and morality. I believe most people are basically good, but are hindered by forces internally and externally that they have difficulty controlling. And thus the story line of the human race is the same one you see in movies all the time, good versus evil.
Concluding, I would say, though, that as a member of the grey team, I am grateful for the angels among us.