Thursday 15 June 2017

I was stopped by police at the MRT station yesterday afternoon

So I had a weird afternoon yesterday.

It was a few minutes after 4 o'clock. I was on my way to work and had tapped out at Braddell MRT station.

In front of me were three Public Transport Special Command officers. You know, the guys in the grey berets who patrol the MRT?

I wondered if the country was on high alert because of the suddenly very public squabble between our prime minister and his sibs.

And then I remembered a woman was recently detained for pro-ISIS activities. That could be it.

I hoped I wouldn't be stopped because I was late for work.

Just as I was about to walk past them, one of the guys stopped me. Just my luck.

I took out my earphones to hear what he was saying to me.

All he kept saying was “spot check, spot check” as if I was supposed to know what to do.

I had never been stopped for a spot check before, so I waited for instructions. Although I instinctively wanted to take out my IC, I wasn't asked to do so yet.

"Spot check," he repeated.

I said: "Yah, so?"

Perhaps I sounded a little more insolent than I should.

He eventually asked to see my IC, which I handed to him. He then stepped away and I heard him read my name into his walkie-talkie.

Meanwhile, I just stood there awkwardly, feeling kinda embarrassed that passers-by must be looking at me and wondering what I did.

Was I behaving suspiciously because I was anxious about being late for work?

Even though I didn't do anything, I felt guilty for just being stopped.

While I was waiting for my IC, one of the other guys asked me where I was going. Eager to clear myself, I said I was late for work and even showed him my work pass.

He asked me if I was on the afternoon shift. I said night shift.

He said he thought the night shift starts at 7pm. That puzzled me. I was unaware there was some universal definition of “night shift” that states it must start at 7pm.

I said my work starts now and ends at midnight. He didn't seem very convinced.

It would be just like me to get arrested over semantics.

I wanted to take a selfie with them but then thought better of it as I didn't want to get into more trouble and make myself even more late for work.

So after I got my IC back and was told I could go, I quickly snapped a selfie with the cops in the background (circled) as I was leaving the station.

When I arrived at work, a colleague said I looked even "grungier" than usual.

I wondered if that was why I was stopped by police.

I headed for the men's room and bumped into a Malay cleaner whom I had never seen before. After leaving the men's room, I bumped into her again.

Apropos to nothing, she asked me: "Are you Malay?"

What a weird, random question.

I replied no.

She said I looked Malay because of what I was wearing on my head.

I wanted to say that my complexion is too pale for me to look Malay, but I just smiled weakly at her.

It was not the first time I wore the headgear to work. I usually wear it to keep sweat from my face when I'm running , but after my hair grew too long, nowadays I also wear it to keep hair from my face even when I'm not running.

You may ask, why don't I just cut my hair? I have explained that in an earlier article.

Wait, could that be also why I was stopped by the cops — because I looked Malay?

Because of my headgear?

Because of my long hair?

And what a weird coincidence that I would have the conversation with the cleaner in the same afternoon.

To cap it off, minutes after talking to the cleaner, I found out that I had misread a message from a colleague (the one who called me grungy) and I wasn't supposed to be working that day. It was my day off!

So I had rushed to work for nothing. I wasn't late at all. I was stopped by police for nothing.

As I shuffled back to the MRT station to go home, feeling like an idiot, I realised the three TransCom officers could still be there.

If they see me again, they would think I had lied to them about going to work after all that discussion about "night shift" and me working until midnight.

How was I going to explain myself?

To my relief, when I reached the MRT station, the cops weren't there any more because even I couldn't be that unlucky.

Perhaps it's time I get a haircut.