Friday, January 14, 2005

Its not safe anymore

My name is Daniel Chen, I work as an investment banker in the city, it is to me the center of the world, it is where I can get anything, and anyone, to do anything for me. I am fearless. I like to believe I am good at what I do, and I am proud of that fact.

Not so long ago I started my day as usual. It is very fast paced, the amount of adrenaline that runs through my veins everyday keeps me alive, at least that's what I'd like to believe. I was looking forward to the evening when I can spend some time with my girlfriend, my baby. We are going to take a drive in my brand new car along a stretch of road, any stretch of road. I was looking forward to these two things for my evening, and its gonna be great.

The moment I left the office I headed right to the parking lot. Sitting there all pretty was my new ride, a spanking new Honda Accord Euro edition, with HID stock, leather seats, racing suspensions and my custom ordered 18" rims, my Bose sound system was programmed for music for the evening, and I installed a really sophisticated alarm with anti-hijack capabilities, just in case. You never know these days.

It was perfect, half an hour later, we were hitting the highway, the feel of leather, the roar of the engine as I ate up the highway like I had glue on my tires. The exhilaration of the drive resembled adrenaline, it was excitement mixed with fear. The fear is usually the element people avoid, which is why they lack adrenaline totally. But for me, it was a healing experience.

A bright light quickly approached my rear end as I checked the rear view mirror. It was a souped up Proton. Bah, I thought...what a loser, as I stepped on the throttle even more. The Proton managed to keep up 'What is his problem', I murmured as I decided to smoke this loser. But he still kept tailgating. Then he came to the right and tried to overtake my car. It was a good evening out, I won't ruin it on some loser like him, so I just let him pass as I decelerated.

Once he was in front, he did a handbrake turn and slided in a 45 degree position. I had to do an emergency brake, nearly hitting him. 2 men got out of the vehicle. It was then that I knew that there was going to be trouble, so I shifted into reverse gear, but another vehicle was soon at my back. 'Shit' I thought, this was a planned hijack. I looked at my baby, she was scared, and so was I, but I had to be the strong one. So I just said 'its going to be okay'.

Time took forever to pass, I took that time to access my options. Being cornered like this...what can I do? I could reverse anyway and smash my rear, but the force it'll take to move that truck would damage my axle. Running into the car in front was difficult as well without damaging my engine bay, and they were parked in a way that if I ran off the sides I would end up in a ditch. Last resort, save ourselves and use the anti-hijack feature. The transponder card in my pocket sends signals to the sensor to validate a connection, when the card is removed the engine continues to run for about 30 seconds before the engine is cut. Ingenious indeed, and I'll just make a police report and claim from my insurance.

The men approached the car, masked, and armed.

'Chu lai!,' one of them said. He asked me to get out, I unlocked the car and slowly got out, 'get out of the car baby, and come over to me..' I said quietly as I exited. 'If you want the car, take the car. The keys are inside.' I said with an unwavering voice. I was wondering if I said it in an authoritative manner. I was so accustomed to that I might have. I might have because somehow they seemed to take offence, and lifted their parangs up, heading towards me. I cringed. I felt sick. I just lay in defeat. Once they were 2 feet from me they burst out in laughter. Intimidation. It sucks to be on the receiving end. 'Take the car...' I said...'leave us alone.'

I was glad they did, and they left. I took my girlfriend's hand and said 'We have to go now, the car is going to stall and we have to go.' The whole intimidation episode took about 10 seconds off the 30 second time limit, we have about 15 seconds tops to run and hide. It smelled damp, we were in the middle of nowhere, palm oil trees were on my left and right. I frantically tried to call for help. Luckily they didn't take my phone. I had only 1 bar of battery, and 1 bar of reception. I called the police...but I didn't know where I was. I told them in my best smattering of Malay, in between short breaths, as I tried to get away as far as possible. The operator asked me to hold. Hold? I'm running for my life here! You are putting my life on hold? Just then the battery died.

I felt lights approaching behind me, in a split second I turned to look. Cars. Shit. I grabbed her arm and ran into the palm forest. The sound of screeching tires, and some opening doors. I heard some swearing, and they said something about...coming to get me. They were pissed. Something about...where is the key? Suo shi zhai na yao che, ni yao I want my car or my life...if they found us, they will kill us.

For the first time in a long time fear set in. I was genuinely afraid for my life, and for my girlfriend's. There we were huddled under a palm tree, hoping they wouldn't find us in the dark. I calculated the probability of them finding us in this jungle. I took the number of trees and multiplied with the number of men and the probability they could find the right tree. I hate statistics. I just turned up with gibberish. I took my arms off her for a while. Perhaps if I gave them my transponder card they could drive off...but that was wishful thinking. Perhaps if they found the card accidentally they would drive off. But they wouldn't know what it was or how it was supposed to look like. I was cornered. I checked my pocket for the card. It was missing. It must have dropped in the commotion. Fear is now more imminent. Now I wasn't just cornered. I was screwed.

I felt a sickening pain in my stomach. I suppose if I was alone, it would be okay, now I have my girlfriend as well. I still remember the sales guy promoting the security he was demonstrating how good it was, how safe I'd be. If I saw him again I'm going to hit him in the face. Suddenly nothing seemed to matter anymore. I didn't need the car, I just want to get me and my girlfriend back safely.

What is the probability of them finding us? I don't know yet...perhaps I can try to calculate...get my mind off things. But I think I already knew the answer - we are 2 dead people. Just waiting for the time to come.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

iSqueez, uSqueez

My parents recently went to one of the ever mushrooming Osim shops all over the place, but the one we settled for was in Sungei Wang, also what I call the real shopping capital of the city. It was there that I managed to also try out their range of massage chairs. It was excellent! But of course excellence also as an 18-large price tag attached to it. But if you ever had that much cash to just simply go around, then get yourself one of those iSymphonic or iMedic chairs, the latter being one I haven't tested yet.

I've always had something against the 'i' thing. Ever since Apple came out with the iMac, it became the de-facto standard, a trade mark, and I felt an uproar when i Berhad came about, with the thoughts, if you had so much money, couldn't you come up with a better name than the just swipe it off Apple? And now Osim has done it with their range of i-branded products. No imagination whatsoever!

But good products nonetheless. At least they aren't tacky cheap stuff. So my parents got the iSqueez, which, at first glance really looks pretty redundant. What? Calf massager? Why on earth would I want to buy a calf massager? What next? Arms? Thighs? The next thing you know they'd create these battery operated strap-on massagers where you can wear and it will massage you *while you go about your daily chores*! How great would that be? Of course the entire suit would make you look like you had an exoskeleton attached to your body and you can no longer function as a bare human, but hey, it will look cool, and feel good as well. Imagine a large universal soldier kinda person going 'ohh...ahh...yeah that's it...'. I have just mentally created a disturbing picture.

Anyway, temporarily the iSqueez is in my room, and I've been using it pretty often, no complaints, its pretty relaxing, I'd like to think that its a foot massager that does your calves as well. Makes you wonder why we deserve it, but its a really great stress reliever. It retails for slightly under RM1,500. Who's squeezing who now?