A dog’s life, but not for the dog

April 11, 2017 - 09:00

In a story that grabbed a lot of public attention recently, a Grab taxi driver got beaten by a customer over the smell of a dog.

A dog’s life, but not for the dog

In a story that grabbed a lot of public attention recently, a Grab taxi driver got beaten by a customer over the smell of a dog.

Doggone it, you are saying, this cannot be a big deal in a country where dog meat is served in some restaurants; in a country where dog thieves have been brutally beaten, even killed, by mobs and vigilantes.

Well, this could end up being a shaggy dog story, but that’s the risk one takes in a dogged pursuit of stories with a twist.

So, back to this Grab driver who responded after a husband, wife and 10-year-old son called a taxi to get home after participating in a dog show held at the Phú Thọ Gymnasium in HCM City. After a few minutes, the driver decided to lower the windows to “prevent the smell of the dog from sticking to his car.”

No, the dog’s owner barked, demanding that the driver raise the windows and turn on the air-conditioner, for fear that his prized pet, worth several thousand dollars, would be rattled by all the noise and the wind outside.

It soon got noisy inside the car as a shouting match ensued and a lot of insults were traded, and no one seemed to care about the canine’s feelings as the tail wagged the dog.

Soon, the car pulled over and the fight continued, with the dog’s owner deciding to turn his bark into bite, weaponising an incense burner from a small sidewalk to strike the driver, causing mild concussion and profuse bleeding. Fortunately, a decent-sized crowd gathered and the police were called. Outnumbered, the couple apologised, agreed to pay the driver’s medical bills and tendered a public apology.

Even in a dog-eat-dog world, justice is served sometimes, right?

The wife later claimed in a Facebook post that the driver had actually locked the door and refused to let the couple out even though he was not happy with the presence of the dog and the woman had offered to pay for the ride.

The driver was bitter, too. He said he would probably have to take a break from his work, adding: “I feel like I was valued less than a dog.”

Ah well. We’ll just let sleeping dogs lie.

Fury over Fast and Furious driving

Was it a Hollywood chase being shot, following close on the heels of Kong: Skull Island? The latest James Bond movie, perhaps? Or, better still, Fast and Furious 9?

The answer: None of the above.

A dash cam video doing the rounds on social media last week showed a fleet of five cars speeding on the wrong lane of Hà Nội’s Nhật Tân Bridge, including at least one carrying a blue licence plate (indicating it was a State-owned vehicle.)

As the cars sped in the wrong direction, terrified drivers going in the right direction had to swerve out the way to avoid what could have been frightful collisions. The licence numbers of the offending cars were clearly seen, and a police investigation was launched.

So who was endangering the health of law-abiding drivers? Cars belonging to the Ministry of Health. The ministry’s Financial Planning Department officially confirmed that the blue-plated car and four other cars belonged to them, and that they did speed in the wrong lane.

The ministry’s dispatch explained that the cars were under the possession of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) project management board under the department. On April 6, the cars were sent to the Nội Bài International Airport to receive Japanese experts landing at 13:15.

However, an accident on the Nhật Tân Bridge had caused a paralysing traffic jam. The offending drivers said they’d explained their predicament and were granted permission by traffic police officers to turn around and switch to the other lane.

Police officers handling the accident and traffic flow on the bridge rejected the claim, saying they would never permit such dangerous actions.

The drivers later admitted they’d lied. Under existing laws, they were fined VNĐ1 million (US$44) each and their driving licences suspended for two months.

Not surprisingly, this sparked some fury among the public, with netizens noting that the lane allowed speeds of 80km/h, and cars running in the wrong direction were highly likely to catch other drivers off guard, causing terrible accidents.

If the punishment does not fit the crime, it would send a message that crime does pay, and when that happens, there is usually hell to pay.

Toll protest gains currency

Last week, this column reported on residents of Nghi Xuân District in Hà Tĩnh Province forcing authorities to take serious note of their protest by using small notes to pay what they felt was exhorbitant feels collected at a toll gate for a road section they rarely used, if ever.

So they began paying the VNĐ40,000-50,000 fees in VNĐ200 or VNĐ500 denominations, forcing toll collectors to count 80 to 200 notes each time a driver passed through.

The protest went on for nearly two weeks before the toll collecting company threw in the towel and decided to let the protesting drivers through without paying any toll..

However, others cautioned that this victory could be fleeting, and that fee collection could resume soon without further steps being taken.

But the protestors remain unfazed. Lê Xuân Hải, 45, a resident, said: “We want the toll booths to be removed completely. In the meantime, the fee should be scrapped for residents living on either sides of the bridges and surrounding areas.

“Scrapped, not waived, since ‘waiving’ implies that we have a duty to pay. But we don’t use Cienco4’s services, why on earth should we pay?”

Why on earth, indeed. He’s struck pay dirt on this one. — VNS