Driving along…

I was driving back from my girl’s school when a car flashed its headlights at me. Oh? Somebody that I know, I thought. I am hopeless at cars and numbers so if you pass by me on the road, I would not know it is you…so my apologies for not acknowledging your presence. Then, another car did the same thing – blink…blink! Oh? So many people that I know on the road today, I wondered? But when the third car started flashing, that was it! I stopped by the side of the road and got out to check. No, there was nothing wrong with my car, everything was perfectly all right. Hmmm…I was bewildered!

I continued on my way and round the corner, I saw that there was a police road block. I stopped and a nice young policeman approached my car. I asked him if something had happened and hence, the road block in the middle of nowhere but he said no, it was for the Ops Selamat (selamat meaning safety and ops is short for operation) – I guess that was a precautionary measure to ensure road safety since the Gawai Dayak Festival was just around the corner. “Panas hari! (hot day)” I said…and he just smiled and asked for my driving license. When he was done with it, he returned it to me and I said thank you, bye bye…and went on my way.

Now, that brings me to my question. If I were doing something wrong, why would those car drivers see the need to give me a warning? No, I was not going very fast, just around 80-90 kmph, the limit along our pan-Sarawak trunk road. No, my license plate numbers are all of the standard size…and no, my glass was not tinted black (unlike many that I see on the road). Now, if I had violated any traffic rule in any way, why should I be warned so as to evade arrest? I would think that I would deserve to be caught and fined heavily…especially if what I was doing would endanger not only my own life and the lives of those in my car but also the lives of others on the road.

When I got home, I had a look at my driving license and oh me oh my!!! It was due to expire in around a fortnight on the 5th of June. I did not realise that but anyway, I had the reminder keyed in onto my old handphone so I would know about it sooner or later – that is why I still keep my old handphone active (My new one is good for 25 reminders only and that is hardly enough to go round). The next day, I told my sister about it and goodness gracious me, hers had expired over a month ago and she did not realise it and she told me later than when she shared this with her contacts on whatsapp, she was not the only one – some for half a year, some even for one year or more!!!

Well, I usually renewed my license at the post office for a nominal fee of RM2.00 but she told me that I would have to go to the Land Transport Department office…

JPJ office

…where they would take my photograph and do everything necessary and I would get a new driving license just like my MyKad (identity card), not like the old one – just a slip of paper with all the details and my photograph stuck on it, laminated.

What? A photograph??? I quickly went home and got my hair nicely done and put on a decent-looking t-shirt and made my way there. Normally, I would not bother to comb my hair so if you meet me in town, I would look like I had just got out of bed and I never bother to dress up so you may see that my clothes have seen better days and are not quite presentable or at least, not something I would want to be seen wearing in a photograph that I would be carrying around with me for the next five years. Unfortunately, the moment I stepped into the office, the security guard said that their equipment was not functioning and the lady at the customer service counter said I could go to the post office to get to it done instead.

Ah well, I thought! I guessed I could just use my old license and have another of those laminated slips of paper with the updates stuck onto it using cellophane tape like the way it had been for the past 10 years…and I quietly made my way to the post office at Rejang Park here. I used to drop by here at least once a month but not anymore now that I am paying all my bills via auto-debit to my credit cards or through online banking. The air-conditioners, all three of them, have not been functioning for a long time now…

Air conditioner at Rejang Park post office

– according to the guy at the counter, it has been way over a year and they all have their own little fans (varying from 3 or 4 inches to 6 inches in diameter)…

*Sorry for the blurry pic*

…that probably would help a little in their case but not for anyone going there for whatever business they may have at hand.

I noticed that they have had two wall fans put up, one on each side of the waiting area – there used to be one ceiling fan and the office was completely open on one side but since they had air-conditioning, they had put up a glass wall and glass doors which made the place really hot and stuffy (and smelly) especially when there were a lot of people. I would not think those would help very much but that day, the doors were wide open and the chairs had been arranged in such a way to get everyone to queue while waiting of their turn…

Queue at Rejang Park post office

The machine that printed out the numbers to indicate your turn had called it a day too, it seemed…

Out of order

It did not take very long to get my license renewed for five years, RM150.00 plus RM2.00 extra for doing it at the post office and 10 sen for the 6% GST. Thankfully, the equipment was functioning all right and no, I did not need to have my photograph taken (after going through all that trouble to get my hair done and dress up nicely) – they just used my MyKad and got the photograph from there…

New driving license

– very fast, very efficient and kudos to those wonderful people working day in and day out there, seeing to our needs, whilst enduring the not-very-conducive conditions in that miserable place. We only drop by a short while and already, we are complaining – you all obviously have to put up with so much just to serve us, the general public, thank you so very much.

Back to the driving license, it seems that now, when you renew yours, it will expire on your birthday and if your original date and your birthdate is more than six months, they will charge you 50% of the annual fee. Mine is around 5 months away so I did not have to pay that extra RM15.00. Now, mine will expire on 2nd December, 2020…and looking at the way things are going, it certainly appears like that so-called “vision” will not become a reality by then.

I googled to check and I read somewhere that the rationale behind having your driving license expiring on your birthday is to make sure that you will not forget. I suppose that may be quite logical if you renew your license for a year every year but for people like me who will always renew it for five years at one go, I am sure it would just go by unnoticed – now, let me go and key in the new date onto my old handphone…lest I forget.

Incidentally, since I was in the vicinity, I dropped by my favourite kompia shop to buy these chu-nu-miang

Chu nu miang

…for my afternoon tea. Thankfully, the price had remained unchanged – 4 for RM1.00 and a little more for the kompia – 3 for RM1.00 but I would say that I like theirs more than the rest around here and in fact, when my cousin from Kuching, while she was in Sibu that day, bought some of the above from that celebrated shop at Market Road in the town centre, I was shocked at the sight of how small and how out of shape theirs were. Their kompia was sold out and though there wasn’t really a queue, there was quite a crowd there, all wanting to buy the same things. I do think that when people sing their praises of a place, it is best to take it with a pinch of salt – at times, they may be grossly overrated and what they say may not necessarily be true…or what somebody else likes, you may wish to differ. Like I always say, to each his own!