13 January 2006

Pins from the Deaf

Yesterday I was having lunch at a KFC outlet. This man came in and started walking around to all the patrons. At each table, he would make certain gestures with his hands and show the person a little printed card. Each card had a little pin on it (with a Mickey Mouse or Winnie the Pooh or other cartoon design). The card said something along these lines:

"Hello! I am a deaf person. Would you buy this pin for $5?"

Of course the pin was not worth $5. But it was one of those charitable sorts of things. If you bought the pin, you bought it not because you really wanted the pin, but just to help the poor deaf guy.

And of course, on many other occasions, I've seen other deaf people (or people with other kinds of physical disabilities) go around the tables at hawker centres or other public places asking if you would buy some grossly overpriced soft toy or tissue paper pack or some other thing from them.

Now the unusual element is this -

this particular deaf guy in the KFC wasn't a Chinese. He wasn't a Malay or an Indian. He was a Caucasian. He was a white man.

He looked like he was in his late twenties or his early thirties. He had a waistpouch with lots of pins in it. He would take them out to show you the different pin designs he had.

Mr Wang has this general impression about white men in Singapore. Either they are tourists, or students on foreign exchange programmes, or are expats. If they are expats, then they are either well-off, or very well-off. They play golf, drink wine and talk about the high taxes in Europe. They do not go around in public asking for $5 charitable donations or purchases.

So I was a bit surprised to see this deaf white man in KFC selling pins for $5 a piece. Not sure what to make of this. A new kind of social phenomenon, perhaps. I guess it's a bit like white men drinking cheap beer at the local kopitiam (an increasingly common, if still infrequent, kind of sight).

A famous deaf white man.


footix24 said...

I do think the white man you're talking about is the same white man I've seen at least five times for the past three years. However, I saw him at MacDonald's every time. It's this pretty young chap, probably in his twenties or thirties, right?

Young and white. Which made me suspicious enough not to buy any pins. Not that I've anything against deaf people who happen to be white and young, but I've heard from the MacDonald staff that he's not exactly the real dude, and he might be from a syndicate who earns from such stuff. Kinda like the beggars (said to be from neighbouring countries) who flood Orchard Road come every festive season.

Just my two cents' worth. Not that I'm judging harshly.

NotesSensei said...

I'm a white man. I do live in Singapore. I neither drink wine nor am I well off. I struggle like the rest of us (as in People in Singapore) and see more Coffeshop than restaurant. Yeah and I stay in a HDB and take the MRT to work.
And the pin sellers (independend from the color of their skin) allways make me suspicious too.

Zia said...

So the question is..What did you do?? Did you buy the pin from this suspicious fellow? Did you confront this guy? Did you try to find out if it is legal for such people to go around doing this even though they have some form of disabilities? I remember when I was living in Singapore when a blind man came walking door to door with his 12 year old daughter to help him out so he don't get cheated out of selling the overpriced tissue pack!

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

I actually bought the pin for $5. :P