Thursday, May 24, 2007

 
Gallon of Gas
I love the smell of a flammable liquid in the morning and that's what greeted me when I arrived at the third floor of the mighty Sing Tao Publishing building at about 10.45am today. It reeked of gas fumes and the reception area was crawling with cops.

The third floor mostly houses the Sing Tao circulation department in addition to the temporary office where I'm working on a contract project with five other folks. It does not contain an advertising department or a newsroom, though there are two newspapers, Sing Tao Daily and The Standard on other floors.

But details like that didn't seem to bother the smartly dressed, Mandarin-speaking loonball who'd come into the foyer at about 9am, sat on a red fabric covered chair and demanded to place an advertisement. When he was asked by a receptionist what sort of ad, he didn't reply but instead poured a plastic jar of kerosene, gas or lighter fluid over himself and demanded to see "the editor-in-chief." He didn't specify a newspaper. He was also gripping a box cutter, and, reports vary, perhaps a lighter.

I gotta hand it to the receptionist who calmly told him to wait 10 minutes for the "editor-in-chief" to see him. She called the cops instead who tumbled in shortly thereafter later and hustled him out. I arrived after the excitment to see one of the humble cleaning ladies methodically soaking up the fluid with a wad of paper towels as Hong Kong's finest wandered around photographing the soaked, fume-laden chair which looked as though someone had urinated all over it.

Security guards said gas man had been here twice yesterday but because it was a public holiday (Buddha's Birthday) there was no one to take his ad, hear his demands or to watch him try to torch or cut himself. A former Standard coworker also cracked that he'd have had no luck placing an ad in that paper, even on a working day...
Comments:
Same tactic worked for me as I asked for a raise. Well, I got the attention...
 
So, just another day at the office, huh?
 
Oh wait, sorry, I thought that was you pouring gasoline over yourself and asking for the editor-in-chief.

;-D
 
Normally newspapers prefer to be paid in dollars, not gasoline.
 
Considering the price rise in gasoline, maybe he was thinking he could pay gasoline!
Sounds more like he was just a pain in the gas. :)
 
..."twice yesterday" and once today.... Did he douse himself each time? That could get to be an expensive habit. I wonder what kind of head-rush you get from inhaling gas fumes for a half-hour, not to mention absorbing them through your skin...

Great reporting though, Justin. Too bad you didn't have your photographer in tow--it could have made the front page.

Happy Memorial Day, vet.
 
Hi Justin, nice blog. I'm a reporter in the U.S. considering a move to SZ/HK, and would like to send you an email. How best to reach you? I'm m o t o r DOT t s a i AT gmail DOT com.
 
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