Monday 25 November 2019

Goodbye: I'm breaking up with Hello Kitty

Dear Hello Kitty,

We need to talk (even though you don’t have a mouth).

More than a week ago, the plastic food carrier made up of your big head sold out at McDonald’s.

People who are aware of my relationship with you asked me whether I got mine.

I have a confession to make – I didn’t queue for it.

It was a weird feeling at first, not wanting to buy McDonald’s latest promotional novelty.

I mean, I even ordered the McDonald’s pyjamas last month even though I haven’t worn pyjamas since my mother stopped buying them for me.

I decided to skip your carrier because I already got the McDonald’s My Melody food holder last December.

I tried to sell My Melody for $1,001 on Carousell and someone actually offered to buy it.

I waited at Braddell MRT station for half an hour, but no one showed up and the person stopped replying to my messages.

I couldn’t believe anyone could be so evil as to lead me on like that. Faith in humanity destroyed.

This is how Carouhell became a billion-dollar company?

But I guess it was my own fault for stupidly thinking anyone would pay $1,001 for something you can now get for maybe 10 bucks.

So the My Melody holder is still in a box gathering dust at home.

Along with my McDonald’s SG50 Hello Kitty Collector’s Set, which includes six plushies.

And my SingPost SG50 Hello Kitty Plush Collectible Set, which has five toys.

And my six-piece McDonald’s Hello Kitty Bubbly World collection, which I bought in 2014.

And the 40th anniversary Hello Kitty Run medal I got the same year.

I wore the Hello Kitty Run T-shirt to my first death metal concert recently. (Cryptopsy rules!)

But apart from the T-shirt, all the other stuff is pretty much useless.

Am I actually going to use the My Melody food holder to hold my food? Not if I can’t even bear to take it out of the box.

They’re all just sitting there, competing for space with my Star Wars merch, Marvel merch and 125 pairs of running shoes in the Choa Chu Kang flat I share with three other people, also known as my family.

Marie Kondo would commit seppuku if she saw the way I live.

So when McDonald’s announced that Singapore would be the first country where your carrier would be launched, I said no, thanks.

I don’t know where I found the strength.

Initially, there was a fear of missing out. But now, just over a week later, no one cares.

And I realised I don’t have to waste money on every overhyped piece of dreck with your face on it to be happy.

You no longer spark joy. Just maybe some buyer’s remorse.

I’m sorry to say it’s over between us. We had a good run.

Please don’t be sad (not that anyone can tell whether you are since you have no facial expression whatsoever).

You still have millions of real fans, unlike ironic bandwagon jumpers like me.

It’s not you. It’s meow.

If you really must know, yes, there is someone else.

I would die for Baby Yoda.

Goodbye, Kitty.

- Published in The New Paper, 25 November 2019

Monday 11 November 2019

National Steps Challenge: Is this the real reason e-scooters are banned on footpaths?

Well, that was sudden.

Last Monday, the Government decreed that e-scooters would not be allowed on footpaths from the next day.

It’s not as if there were Select Committee on E-Scooters On Footpaths hearings where Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam grilled a Foodpanda rider for six hours about Operation Coldstore. A Ban E-Scooters On Footpaths Bill wasn’t tabled in Parliament, debated, voted on and passed into law.

At least the Government prepared us for the fake news law that is the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act earlier this year.

Not so with this.

You know how when you look out for vehicles while crossing the road, expecting it to be safe when you reach the sidewalk, only to be surprised by a speeding e-scooter that almost hits you.

The banning of e-scooters on footpaths is like that e-scooter that almost hit you on the footpath – it sort of just came out of nowhere.

It is the e-scooter riders’ turn to be hit by something they didn’t see coming, and they’re not liking it.

That’s one thing millennials can’t dismiss with a glib “Okay, boomer.”

But why now? Why the short one-day notice?

When the new 10kmh speed limit for e-scooters was announced in September last year, it wasn’t implemented until five months later.

When the Government introduced UL2272 as the new standard for personal mobility devices (PMDs) in September last year because of all the PMD-related fires, PMD users originally had until the end of next year to comply. The deadline was later brought forward to next July, all of which seems rather pointless now.

So what’s the rush with the footpath ban?

Instead of an immediate ban with an advisory period until the end of the year, why not start the ban next year so that everyone has more time to adjust?

I have a theory.

The National Steps Challenge Season 5 started on Oct 26. Ten days later, we have the footpath ban.

Coincidence? Maybe not.

The National Steps Challenge is the Government’s attempt to get us off our asses and move around more by rewarding us for every step we take up to 10,000 a day.

The Government is even giving you a nifty Fitbit knock-off you can wear on your wrist to count your steps.

You could even take a picture with Pokemon at the mega roadshows where the free fitness trackers were distributed.

What is the point of the Government spending all that effort and taxpayers’ money to encourage you to get fitter by walking more if you are just going to scoot around on your damn e-scooter?

Or sit around waiting for your food to be delivered by e-scooter instead of using your own two feet to get your bubur cha cha or bubble tea with brown sugar or whatever?

People may also be afraid to go for a walk because they don’t want to get hit by Ah Boy on an e-scooter.

Having PMDs defeats the whole purpose of the National Steps Challenge, which lasts until April.

Ergo the timing of the ban.

It could also be because of the elderly cyclist who tragically died after colliding with an e-scooter in September.

And Tan Tock Seng Hospital reporting an alarming 70 per cent increase in PMD rider injuries in two years.

And the horrific viral video of a e-scooter rider crashing into a three-year-old girl in a Boon Lay void deck last month.

Perhaps the ban shouldn’t be so unexpected after all.

Is it too late to meet Pikachu?

- Published in The New Paper, 11 November 2019