Take another deep breath please…

While some seem to calm, many seem to be more unhinged, waiting for that opportunity to lash out!


THE person in the other room must be really miffed with the resort’s housekeeping team.

“SAYA CALL DAH SEJAM DAH (I called an hour ago)!” he bellowed at the top of his lungs.

There were occasional (and very feeble) responses from the lady who might have been sent by the management to appease this unhappy guest.

Judging from the tone and volume that he chose, one would have guessed that something extremely disconcerting had transpired in his room that had made him lose his temper.

He just couldn’t stop, it seemed, as he bombarded the housekeeping girl with rather unsavoury words.

There were points that he’d remind her that he was a paying guest and he expected nothing less from that five-star establishment.

His rant went on for a good 10 minutes. As the drama unfolded, it was revealed that he was not so happy after the housekeeping team cleaned and tidied his room as one item that was supposed to be replenished was not at its designated spot.

Apparently, the housekeeper forgot to replace the tissue box! Seriously? One would have thought that he was mad at something even more glaring like unreplaced towels or soiled bed spread, or an unkempt bathroom that was not cleaned thoroughly.

One would imagine that the ruckus he created that fine morning could have been due to a stolen personal item which might have been missing after the housekeepers left.

No matter how you look at it, it was an embarrassing situation for all. Perhaps, the guest himself might feel a little silly after he calmed down, realising that he would be the talk of the resort throughout his stay there.

It’s rather easy to get triggered these days, it seems. Everyone seems to be on edge. Just say the wrong thing, or look at another in a slightly funny way, and you might just get the wrath of the person next to you.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed many people in different ways. The better among us would choose to be more empathic and generous towards others, while the more prudent lot might just be even more “careful” with their expenditure while turning their backs on others who might need that helping hand.

While some seem to be turning to the calmer side, many seem to be more unhinged, waiting for that opportunity to lash out!

Some of us might be familiar with the term “Karen”, which is used as a pejorative term in the US and other English-speaking countries for a woman perceived as entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what is appropriate or necessary.

A common stereotype is that of a white woman who uses her privilege to demand her own way at the expense of others. As for the men, they are referred to as Kevin.

You might have seen some of the hilarious videos that feature Karens and Kevins in action, as they pounce on unsuspecting victims.

If you saw one video that was uploaded on YouTube earlier this month entitled “Karen and Kevin Throw Hot Coffee at Man For Not Wearing a Face Mask”, you’d realise how a simple innocent situation could turn very ugly within minutes.

There are many examples, and sadly, the same situation could be seen here on a daily basis.

Videos showing “Malaysian Karens and Kevins” misbehaving, particularly throwing abuse at fellow Malaysians, are increasingly disturbing too.

In one video, a man is seen shouting at another at a supermarket’s checkout counter, but the detail of his profanity is rather unclear (his eloquence in Bahasa Malaysia and English is certainly below par).

There are also quite a number of videos of our very own “Karens and Kevins” abusing enforcement officers who are doing their jobs in public areas.

More often than not, these Karens and Kevins would flout the law first — like parking illegally or wrongly, while obstructing traffic — and somehow, they’d end up playing the “victims” as they expressed themselves audibly and aggressively.

Most of the videos feature “multi-racial (multi-racist?)” altercations that could also tell us a little more about the current psyche of our own people.

Which is sad, as we all are already lumped together in this global mess that is affecting every single soul on earth.

Truth be told, each of us does have the tendencies to be a Karen or a Kevin. All it takes is a button presser that could unleash some unbridled temper that might have been suppressed for a long time.

You might have experienced being ignored in an elevator after you took the trouble to hold it open for another “ungrateful person” who did not know how to say thank you, as you struggled to get to work on time.

Or, you’d be struggling to finish your meal at your table in a crowded restaurant as another patron stood next to your table, giving you the eye that read “get on with it you slowcoach!”

Occasionally, you’d get annoyed by some screaming brats at a supermarket aisle as the parents nonchalantly push their shopping carts as if the little devils are not their, err, spawns.

Of course, anyone would be irked with that person who finally reaches the counter at a fast food restaurant, only to realise that he does not know what he wants even after staring at the menu during the arduous long queue.

There’d also be that occasional village idiot who would take his own sweet time figuring out the functions of an automated teller machine (ATM). Worst still is when he could not decide on the amount that needs to be withdrawn after the long process of learning to operate the ATM.

So, what do we do? We can’t just air our grouses for all and sundry to see now, can we?

Well, if you’re a person of faith, just be reminded that it takes many to make the world.

Take a deep breath and imagine that once upon a time, Noah’s ark was filled with all sorts of creatures that were crammed together for months during the great flood.

Be reminded also that each creature has its purpose, and if you feel that you are at the top of the evolutionary ladder, you should be able to harness that last bit of compassion and strength to forgive.

Take a deep breath, and tell yourself that topping the whole drama with your tantrum isn’t worth it.

If you think you couldn’t hack any of the nonsense, stay home. At least you have reduced your chance of being kissed by the dreaded coronavirus…

Zainal Alam Kadir is the executive editor at The Malaysian Reserve.