I‘m just back in Indonesia (I suppose I can’t call it home anymore because Scotland is my home now) yesterday and before too long I’m annoyed already. Not because the idiot KLM counter officer in Aberdeen airport made my luggage wandered around Schiphol Airport without its owner and arrived a day after me. Not because the unbelievably slow dial-up internet connection makes me drink coffee three times more out of a boredom of waiting for the graphics and words to grace my monitor screen. Not because I have been so used to quiet Aberdeen I had to bite my nails waiting for the traffic to move. It is because I realise that Indonesians are rude.
Yes, we keep bragging as the country of friendly people with smiles and good services. Which somewhat is true. When money is present, Indonesians smile broadly. I expect to get good services from taxi drivers, bank officers, receptionists, waiters, even security guards. But those who are not in the service industry will behave like this is their own world and no one else deserves better than them.
It started from the last journey I had to take, from Singapore to Jakarta. Unable to sleep during 13 hours flight from Amsterdam because the lady sitting next to me was so restless and her partner snored so loud I barely could concentrate on my CSI show and killed the mood to watch any movie, we landed 20 minutes late and I was panicking I wouldn’t catch my next flight (to my relief, we got out at the gate next to my flight to Jakarta so I just made a turn for another boarding, no chance for toilet break let alone last minute shopping), I was getting more irritated when we were start boarding and everybody just rushed to get into the plane first. People dragged their suitcases and elbowed everyone else like somehow their seat were about to be stolen if they didn’t get there first. The same thing happened during custom clearance queue. I mean how difficult is it to give more personal space for the person in front of them? Why is it s/he had to stand so close, breathing onto my neck I could hear or smell them? And when the person before me got his/her turn, the person behind me pushed me straightaway to be as close as possible to the custom desk.
But the worst thing happened when I got to my apartment. No one cares to hold the door or the elevator. No one cares to wait until the people inside the lift get out first. And if I do hold the door no one realises it, let alone say thank you! There were several cases when the lift was full of people I was stuck in the corner and couldn’t reach the button, and I had to ask before someone offered to push the button for me.
The people I mentioned above are what we call rich, well educated Indonesians (my flight from Singapore was full of Indonesian business people complete with suits and laptops, and my apartment is full of university students who could afford to live in apartment rather than sharing room or kost). But somehow the etiquette lesson got lost in between their busy schedule, fancy dress, and frightening titles. No one bothers to say “please” or “thank you” to the always-cheery flight attendants, or the apartment officer whose job is to open the car door (I suppose he is the greeter).
Sadly on the contrary, those people always smile and very polite, and they look like they always smile from the heart. From the lost luggage officer and the SQ airport staff in Jakarta airport who apologised for my inconvenience (not their fault!), to the receptionist who could maintain her smile listening to the tenants’ queries while being effective calling cabs and receiving letters at the same time. It breaks my heart to see them trying their best, suppress their own emotion while the customer barking rudely.
A simple ‘thank you’ (terima kasih) and ‘please’ (mohon or tolong) are small gestures that matters a lot. Please do say that to those who assist you, no matter how small it is.