The First Survival Skill I Learned in London


For every person in this society who is suffering physical abuse, there are hundreds suffering the effects of verbal violence. The physical attack is at least obvious and unmistakable. Straight away you can make a police report.

Verbal violence is a very different matter. I once experienced verbal abuse witnessed by other commuters in London while on board the Red bus soon after 9/11. Fortunately, I didn’t fully understand the  dialect of the Londoners as I was the newcomer to the big city. On the other hand, I became confused as I vaguely knew my mistake and couldn’t killed the aggressor outrightly.

The problem was simple. I was just short of change and the bus attendant gave me a look and  said: even the school kids should be able to do the simple mathematic. How am I to know how much it take from Denmark Hill to Greenwich as it was the first day I board the bus?

My problem is Londoners speak differently from us, Malaysians. So I have no way to argue instantly and all I know I suffered the verbal abuse quietly. The incident taught me a lesson on how to survive living in London and it worked the next time I board the bus.

I made sure I looked right in the eyes of the bus attendant each time I pay the ticket. I cursed in my mind: you are an idiot and I walked straight raising my shoulder in front of him. To my surprise. it worked…….and that was the first survival skill lesson I learned in London.

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