Having driven in Singapore roads for more than a few years, I have come to the conclusion that there are no lack of boneheads on the highways and byways of our lovely nation, high COEs notwithstanding.
All one needs to do is to drive out to the city on a weekday morning to encounter the first bonehead of the day -- the $100 it costs to drive into the city through the Central Expressway. And coming soon to an Expressway near you, Bonehead Scheme Number Two -- Electronic Road Pricing in conjunction with the Bonehead Scheme Number Three, the Cashcard (the biggest white elephant since Teleview and the Suzhou Project).
You know madness has set in through the rising costs of Car Taxation, COEs, ERP, ALS, RPS because the rising prices have actually increased the number of boneheads driving on the roads. It is as if more and more people are assuming that, hey I paid so much for my car already, hence I have the right to behave like a Neanderthal on the roads.
My first pet peeve are the Honda CRX drivers. I don't mean to generalise, and I actually like the CRX for its superior performance, but when you encounter the 384th CRX driver with the yellow CRX and the DOHC/Falken stickers driving like he is rushing for an organ transplant (normally the brain), you start to wonder if this is a kind of genetic condition of Honda CRX owners.
I mean, how fast do you think you can go at 6pm on the CTE on a weekday? Would overtaking that one Fiat Uno in front of you really make you reach your destination faster? Or does overtaking that little old lady driving her 19-year-old Starlet really make you feel more masculine?
I doubt if I am alone in saying that the CRX qualifies as an Ah Beng Car. Even Eric Khoo immortalised the car by featuring a Beng driving a yellow one in the movie "12 Storeys".
And yellow seems to be a big colour for the up and coming Beng. Not to mention the countless stickers that proclaim the spare parts of his car and the name of his Car Hi-fi's Bass Woofer.
So what the heck is a "Zigen" anyway? And do we really want to know what the brand of his exhaust is, or the fact that his car uses so-and-so's spark plugs? For once I'd like to see a sticker that indicates what Radiator coolant the driver uses (something like "WATER"), or what brand of tissue he has in his car (like "COTTONELLE"). That would be original.
I once had a Beng friend (yes, I do have them and they are nice folk too) proudly declare that his car had a "Dork" engine. I had to make him spell it out before I realised he meant DOHC. And he spelt the thing out looking at me like I was the ignorant dork too.
Strange thing is, I have actually seen DOHC engines in little Nissan Marches and my brother's Suzuki Bandit motorbike. So what's so special about DOHC anymore? It's like putting a sticker on your car that says "Has Internal Combustion Engine" (HICE) or "Runs Only On Petrol" (ROOP).
But I am being unfair here, I'm afraid. I have stickers on my little car too. Mine says "Choose Mac" and "No Fear". Don't ask me why, I just thought they looked cool. Maybe I thought my Viki would suddenly look "Low Drag High Speed" (LDHS) if I stuck those things on my rear windscreen. Maybe I thought my Viki would look less like a Motorbike with 4 wheels and more like a Formula One car this way. So I guess I am not beyond this irrational behaviour myself.
I also notice that some of these "fierce" cars that can do 0-100km in 3 secs suddenly come to a standstill when faced with a hump in an HDB car park. You know, something like "vrooooom" to 103kmh in the parking lot then "whooaaa" to a gentle little ballet dancer to go over the hump. That's the price to pay for lowering the suspension and adding those costly plastic/fibreglass body kits (that break when you sneeze at them). That's the price to pay for making the chassis sit 1.2mm off the ground with no one in the car. Fierce, man.
Talking about body kits, have you guys ever seen a Malaysian Proton Wira decked out with works? Here I'm talking side skirts, spoilers, sports rims, wings everywhere, the works, man. Looks like some F1 Racing Demon from Proton Hell. Very, very fierce. Well, I just saw one the other day on the North-South highway overtaken by a beat-up first-generation Proton Saga driven by a Malay family. Just thought you'd want to know.
Another Bonehead on the road is the Taxi driver. What vehicle on the road can cut from the far right lane on a 3-lane street over to the far left lane at 80kmh in 2 seconds? You either have to admire his skill or curse his audacity while you jam your brakes. Of course, the cab guy would just love for you to kiss his bumper, because he can take a few days off while he claims compensation from you for hitting him from behind.
Equally Boneheaded are the Alfa drivers. Hey, don't get me wrong again, some of my best friends are Alfa owners, but that doesn't mean I want to ride in their vehicles. For Alfa drivers it seems, all the roads are race tracks. And all cars are opponents. And the sound of their Boxer engines can wake the dead.
Sometimes I think this speeding is not deliberate. The drivers might be reluctant to change to a lower gear and lower speed because the damn clutch on an Alfa is so stiff and sensitive that the engine will die if you so much as look at the stick shift cross-eyed.
Speaking about loud noises, another Bonehead is the Ah Beng motorcyclist ramming his modified Yamaha RZ125 at 3000 decibels in order to reach its top speed of 60kmh. I have this one clown who does that every night at my block and a couple I always meet at night at traffic junctions. I have been very tempted more than once to ride up alongside, wind down my window and push the suckers down. But that would be cruel.
But it still would not be as cruel as the little Scooter riders and their cheapo but loud sound systems blasting Lemon Tree (the Chinese version, no less) at you. The sound systems are not meant to be refined or even listened to, I think, just as long as it is LOUD.
I once stopped at a traffic junction only to have a couple of these scooters pull up next to me, blasting, yes you guessed it, Lemon Tree (Chinese version). So what I did was to wind down my window, jack UP my car's stereo (I have a bitchin' woofer in my little car) and then chose a nice sentimental number like Jesus Freak by dcTalk. The resulting sound wave almost knocked the poor ladies (yes, two Lians were riding it) off the scooter nearest me. It was great fun. You should try it some day.
I also have many bad experiences with drivers of sports cars. There's this Fiat Coupe that is always parked opposite Bugis Junction, near the Hong Leong Building. It is driven by this old balding Caucasian guy with long white hair and a pony tail (why he bothers to wear his hair like this is beyond me, Lao Hiao in menopause, I suppose). I think he works at some Ad agency near there.
Anyways, he once came up to my car which was unintentionally blocking him, and instead of walking up to my window and politely asking me move my vehicle, he decided that the civilised thing to do was to rap on the top of my car with his macho knuckles (I hope it hurt) and gruffly asking me to move out of the way.
And yes, the Fiat Coupe was, you guessed it, yellow. And you thought Ang Mohs can't be Beng.
Another time I encountered this other bloke driving a Mersally Sports trying to overtake me at the CTE Havelock Road exit. Mind you, I was on the innermost lane of the two filter lanes but the idiot wanted to charge out the exit and there was this Hyundai ahead of me on the right exit lane so Mr Mersally decided that he had the right to high-beam me to get out of his way so that he could pass. This was on a CTE tunnel exit that was notorious for the sharp turn ahead and a steep incline. Where did he expect me to go to give him way? Finding that I wasn't about to filter right on a turning slope for His Majesty, he proceeded to use what horsepower he had left on his car to overtake me from the right, filter back to the left lane immediately to avoid the Hyundai on the right lane, and then jam brakes to make that almost 90 degree turn at the end of the exit. What a Bonehead.
What's with this high beam thing anyway? I can understand if I am travelling on the Expressway's right-most lane at 60kmh and blocking the fast-moving cars there. But this sort of high-beaming thing is happening even when I am travelling at 120kmh on the far right lane with cars on my left side and cars immediately in front of me travelling at roughly the same speed!!! So where does that Bonehead highbeaming me expect me to go to make way for him? And what basis is there for him to ask me to get out of the way so that he can do 180kmh, when in the first place, even if I let him pass, he will encounter another 85 cars in front of me doing 120kmh? Sheeesh.
The amazing thing is that after he uses all his horsepower and decibels to overtake you, (not before he gives you a dirty look for blocking his Feng Shui as he passes you at light speed) he is either A) one car ahead of you only or B) he has to stop at the traffic light, with you stopping right behind him. All that fossil fuel and turbo power to gain a 3cm lead. Never has so much been done by so small a person for so little of gain.
It seems that these drivers use a very scientific rule of thumb when they decide who to high beam and who not to. It doesn't matter if you are keeping up with the pack or the road is jammed up anyway. Noooo, one look at your car's c.c. (for those not so well-versed in car jargon, that means how big your engine capacity is, and/or whether got Turbo or DOHC) and that's the deciding factor.
I can almost imagine what's going through their minds...
"Oh he is driving an 800c.c. car so he has no right to be on the fast lane even if he is keeping up with the rest of the cars at 200kmh gotta high beam him it's my right as a car with a higher c.c. yes high beam high beam ooy get out of my way you little car"
"Oh that is a motorbike so he should not be on this lane so what if he is doing 240kmh I must high beam him it's the unwritten law."
And luxury cars of 3000c.c. and above are especially prone to this kind of behaviour. I have no beef with Mercedes or Lexus owners but really, the way some of them muscle in on smaller cars so often and the frequency with which I see them parked in handicapped lots in Takashimaya, you'd think they have a special licence for this kind of behaviour. My only consolation is hearing stories about Mercedes drivers from friends, like the one where a lady friend ran up and actually got into a new white E200 (the one with the round Mickey Mouse spotlights) and said "Orchard Road please".
The owner in the driver's seat turned around with black look of someone who is still regretting the day he bought a white Merc that looks exactly like the new Mercedes Taxis and said, "Get_out_of_my_car_NOW!"
My heart bleeds for these Merc owners, really. I mean, to spend more than S$250,000 buying the latest model Merc only to have the local Taxi company buy a whole fleet of them as high-end taxis is a little too much to take, I think. And to think that the model used by the Taxi company is an E300, higher-end some more!!! Ouch.
Talking about higher-end cars, it is a very Singaporean trait to go for cars with a boot (or trunk for those of you from another hemisphere). I am not kidding. Hatchbacks are considered the poor man's car. But if you own a car with a (gasp!) boot, then you have arrived. That is why Champion Motors sells so many more Suzuki Swift 1.0s in the Notchback configuration (Got Boot) than the Hatchback configuration (Got No Boot).
It does not matter if the car's puny 1000c.c. engine is being overworked to drive the heavier Notchback version as long as the car looks like a Sedan and not some kiddie Hatchback toy.
It does not matter if the Hatchback is much lighter, more suited for the small 1000c.c. engine, has better pickup and is safer to drive as a result, I don't care because I want to be seen driving a Sedan.
It also does not matter that the Notchback version is significantly costlier or that everybody knows it's a 1000c.c. car inside, I got to have that Notchback model!!!
You want to know an even dirtier little secret? Some of these 1000c.c. Suzuki Swift Notchbacks have been modified to look more fierce. How? Well some of these owners, obviously mindful of the fact that some people might look down on their 1000c.c. cars, boot or no, actually go out of their way to find the Silver plastic sign that says "Suzuki Swift 1.3" and stick it on their 1.0 cars! So with a simple change of sign, voila! you've got yourself the 1300c.c. model of the Swift series! The 1.3 Swift is no different physically, you see, save for that little label. Simplest and fastest car upgrade in the market!
Of course no one is the wiser until they see the little fella trying to move off at the traffic lights.
What is truly frightening to me though, is to see a Suzuki GTI or a Honda Prelude, driven by a guy with an arm hanging out the window (usually with a cigarette) and a Probation Plate on his rear window. Now that is something you want to avoid.
Men and cars have this almost phallic connection, I think. How else can you explain a Guy A racing his Alfa (with his newly-wedded wife in the car) against Guy B (his pal) in a Fiat Tipo (with his 6-month-old baby boy in the front seat)? Or a Subaru Viki driving onto the oncoming lane at 120kmh to overtake a slow vehicle on a narrow road?
It is hard to explain indeed. Maybe it's the Metal that surrounds the driver and the engine roaring beneath the hood (due to a change of exhaust to a larger diameter, something like the size of the driver's head), that creates this false sense of invincibility. I bet we wouldn't be so gungho after that Metal is wrapped around our heads and the exhaust sticking up our ass. Ah but what do I know anyway, I drive a little 800c.c. car with no Boot.