Do you feel like your life is sometimes all about waiting? Waiting for that someone, that text message, that phone call, that person to come home. Or for the government cheque to come in, that social worker to respond to your request. Rarely the wait is pleasant. Often it’s painful.
We’re not a city that likes to wait. The MTR comes every 3 minutes. Fast food shops serve your order before the flip of a webpage. Convenient stores station every street corner, satisfying every chocolate, soda, junk food whim every hour of the day. Instant noodles are a staple: 3 minute prep time.
Yet despite the efficiency we are also known to be a city of waiting. Waiting 10 hours for your turn at a public hospital, 10 years to get into public housing. Parents waiting days in line to get their toddlers into kindergarten. Waiting in futile for our Chief Executive to resign.
With the need to wait for certain things, money can buy time. If you’re rich you need not wait for public housing – buy your own mansion. You need not wait at the public hospital – opt for expensive, private, premium health care. You need not wait to get into a normal kindergarten – buy school bonds years in advance; your child is then guaranteed a spot while it’s still a forming foetus in the womb.
We’ve just been branded (again!) the freest economy in the world. People flock to do business here in Hong Kong because the government very much abides by the laissez faire principle. Business is good, yet this unchecked economic worshipping has its undesired consequences. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The rules are rigged. The poor wait more.
With the haves and have-nots ever becoming so dichotomised, we see the rich becoming more powerful, while the poor scrape by. The poor wait for everything. Time is traded at a lower value for the poor than for the rich.
If you’re rich you don’t think twice before hailing a taxi. If you’re poor you devise the cheapest route (but not the quickest) to get you there.
If you’re rich you can fly to America to get a kidney transplant. If you’re poor you’ll have to wait in line for one, often dying in the process. It isn’t fair.
Yet I like how it’s fairer when it comes to love. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor. You still wait for that loved one’s phone call. You still wait for your kids to come home safe. Your heart still skips a beat when that crush of yours texts you back after an agonising few days. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor. You still can wait for someone to take notice of you, to give you the attention you crave.
At least some things are equal.