That rigidity which drives me nuts …

I just have to write this down …. My birthday is coming up in a week or so and I want to do a barbecue party in my apartment complex. I have seen other tenants use the club house for the party and use the roof terrace above it to cook with their portable grill, so I thought I would do the same, since the pool-side barbecue pit can only hold 15 people while I want to invite double that number.

So I went down to the management office, asking a few questions relating to the details of my party and wanting to pay my deposit to book the room, only to be told, “You can’t do barbecue on the roof terrace. It’s not allowed.”

My response, “Really? I’ve seen it happen numerous time. My balcony faces the roof terrace and I see people doing repeatedly, so don’t tell me I can’t do it.”

Management, “I thought I better tell you in advance that you can’t do it, rather than have the security come and stop you from cooking there.”

Me, “I have not seen a single party disturbed by security just because of a barbecue pit, don’t tell me some nonsense. Why don’t you allow it anyway? Is there a reason? Is there somewhere in the tenants guide book which say I cannot do it?”

Management, “What’s in the past is in the past. The previous tenants who did it have been warned and it should not happen again.”

Me, “No one has ever complained about the roof terrace being used to cook. If anyone has, I would see it in a management council meeting. Don’t tell me some nonsense about warnings and actions taken … Give me a valid reason why others can do it and I can’t.”

Management, “Sorry, Ma’am, it’s ILLEGAL to do it (wow! That’s a pretty strong word!). You just can’t do it.”

Me, “But WHY? There’s no fire hazard there. Nobody has ever used that roof terrace for sunbathing or anything. Give me a reason.”

Management, “Sorry, Ma’am, you just can’t. Now please I have a meeting with security that I have to go to.”

Then he goes back to his desk, staring at an empty computer screen after giving me a lame excuse to leave the conversation unresolved. He didn’t leave his desk to this “supposed meeting with security” while I stayed in the management office another 10 minutes to finalize my arrangement with his junior.

Notice throughout the whole conversation,

– he did not once mention me A REASON why I can’t cook on the roof terrace

– yet, he refused to listen to logical arguments from the tenant (who paid his salary, by the way)

I am using this story to illustrate the rigidity that comes with the package of living in Singapore. As you can see, this thing gets on to my nerves every now and then. Whenever something happens that requires me to go to customer service or any types of Singaporean front liners, usually something like the above would happen so I would either comply and come home furious, or refuse to leave until I get what I want.

Even to my 11-year old, I would reason with him why he should do one thing and not do another thing. Forget that … in Singapore, they tell you what to think and that’s it. What they tell you doesn’t need to make sense or reasonable. You just have to comply, or in the case where the one telling you “you can’t” is a front liner instead of an legitimate authority, you just have to push your way through if you’re certain that you’re right.

2 thoughts on “That rigidity which drives me nuts …

  1. Do you realize how hostile you sound ? Maybe that’s why they aren’t willing to bend the rules if that is the rule to not allow barbecues on the roof top. I don’t know, sometimes a cajoling smile helps. Works for me every time.

  2. Hi Nancy – read paragraph 1 and 2. I skipped the whole part where I was having a “normal conversation” with the man and got straight to the part that you would call hostile. Yes, I sounded hostile, but only after 10 minutes of normal conversation.

    And no, there are no rules saying no barbecues on the roof top. I checked the tenant handbook, I’ve seen other Singaporeans do it, and the man cannot point out to me where the rule said it.

    And this man has since left the job and replaced by a much more reasonable lady 🙂

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