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The one thing that I’ve learned best from my experience with the Police Force is that everyone deserves their ‘speak time’ no matter how guilty (or innocent) they may be, and it’s a leaf that I’ve taken gratuitously from my former boss’ book.

I was fully aware that he’d never let slip the chance for anyone to speak for themselves, uninterrupted for a full 5 minutes, before passing any judgement, and whenever someone digressed or cut in, he’ll glare at them and asks them to shut the hell up before getting the defendant to finish his 5 minutes.

Now 5 minutes may not seem much, but when you’re walking on a thin red line, that amount is priceless and worth every expletives colourful words used.

I greatly admired my superior’s methods of passing judgement, whether it’s internal or external mediations. Unfortunately for him he’s had too much internal disputes to arbitrate and too much external issues to tackle. Fortunately for me, it opened my eyes greatly.

Before I share what I’m getting at, allow me to share an honest story that’s close to the heart.

A young man was judged to lack gratitude by his loving Godma (where I may add that however this still never changes his affection and appreciation for her) after an incident a few months back where he left a handphone bill in his room before he left for work.

She’s an early sleeper, where 9pm equates to bedtime, due to her daily early morning kitchen commitments (from 2am to 6am, when she’ll start working at her curry puff and kueh-kuehs business), while he comes home pretty late, from work. So they never really got the chance to talk about it. The thing is, it wasn’t his normal hp bill.

He’d gotten her a smartphone, weeks earlier, and being the first time that she’s getting used to all these GPRS / 3G thingy, the data usage was astronomical and having a close to $500 hp bill for a month isn’t something that anyone is used to around there.

So he left it on his bed, hoping to speak to her when he got the chance to get home earlier, but as it turned out, she mistook his intention of trying to inform her to utilise data usage moderately as him trying to get her to pay for a portion of the bills.

You see, he’s been paying for a few bills around the house, Godma’s bills included, and never has he ever asked for her to settle any portion of them. After all that she’s done for him, he’d never ask her for anything other than a place to call home. Money was the least of a worry that he’ll ever have, but she’d thought that he was seeking financial siege. Unfortunately for him, she never asked and unfortunately for her, he has yet to say anything.

So it came both as a shock and not as a shock when she passed him a message that’s somewhere along the line of “I’m too disappointed in you, someone who holds no gratitude towards all my past efforts even when I never ask for anything in return.”

Judgement passed without the young man being given any opportunity for a listening.

And then she added at the end, “Love you.”

Great sadness caused for both parties when presumptions and actions are actively taken at face value, where it’s like beating a dead horse when if he tries to explain himself.

By the way, neither am I vindicating the young man here, because he shouldn’t be, nor am I hanging him high and dry, because in fairness he deserves a fair trial, but sometimes there comes a time, especially in our Asian tradition, when a child (no matter how grown up he is) has got take it on the chin and give respect when it’s due and apologize.

Nothing more and nothing less, but oh how the young man is regretting his actions, ill-timed and misunderstood. He still loves her greatly, and he harbours a wish for his very own 5 minutes, and this much I know for sure.

I know for I see this young man everyday, who looks back at me with the quiet of a man drained of energy — this man in the mirror.