The case of the missing stroller began innocently enough, but it soon turned into a two day saga of frustration amidst comedy. It precisely personifies the rule adherence so diligently followed by locals here.
Yesterday I took the girls to the bus for school. It was 7:55 am. I used the pink Maclaren that we bought for our first trip to Disney World in 2007. It is perfect for city living; small, compact, lightweight and easy to carry. It is perfect for my princessy girls, too. It has a pink seat. I used the stroller because even though Isabel is four years old, she refuses to walk, or to walk with any sense of hurry, and it makes it easier.
The girls got on the bus and I proceeded to the apartment with the empty stroller. When I got there, my hotel style key had stopped working. Not wanting to drag the stroller to the management office, I left it in front of my door for all of about 8 minutes. When I returned, the stroller was gone. Unfortunately, in my tired stressed out pre-coffee daze, I didn’t notice. The rest of the day proceeded as usual. I ran a few errands, organized more aspects of our move, and was out of the house for several hours.
It was not until 4:30 pm, when I went to get Kate from the activity bus a mile away that I noticed the missing stroller. It was the first time I had needed it since the morning. I searched the apartment, to no avail. Then I remembered the keys from that morning and realized I hadn’t seen the stroller since I went to get the new keys. Unfortunately, I was now out of time and had to go get Kate.
I went to get Kate, and when we returned at 5:30 we went by the concierge desk to inquire about our missing stroller. The concierge made a couple of calls, but nobody confessed to having cleared out the stroller. The housekeeping staff had already left for the day, so she advised me to come back by in the morning and check with housekeeping.
Of course, in the morning, housekeeping had no knowledge of my missing stroller, but I just didn’t believe them. I had seen notices posted by the management about not allowing items to clutter the corridors, and I suspected someone had put it whereever they put offending items. I also knew the likelihood of my neighbors absconding my old stroller was slim, especially given that each floor was secured by floor level card access. Nobody but staff and four or five famiies can get on our floor.
When the concierge claimed that housekeeping didn’t have it, I decided to try another tactic. I asked him to call security for me, then, because it must have been a theft. “Right away, mam.” I am getting used to being called mam here.
About 15 minutes later, the security guy appeared at my door with a tiny notebook. He asked for a description of my stroller. I described it in great detail. He wanted to know when I had last seen it, what time it was left, was it there when I went out to run errands, when did I notice it missing, etc. He furiously took notes. He promised to review the security footage to locate the scoundrel responsible for this horrendous crime.
“Mam, I will need to check with a few of my resources to see if I can locate the missing stroller for you.”
Fifteen minutes later my doorbell rang. The security guy was there, missing stroller in hand.
“Where did you find it?” I asked.
“It was in housekeeping, mam. it had been left on the 9th floor. Apparently someone had borrowed it for a bit and then discarded it on that floor, so housekeeping put it away IN THEIR OFFICE!”[emphasis added]
Given my gratitude for the stroller at hand, I didn’t want to point out the holes in his story. Residents can’t appear on the 12th floor then run off to the 9th floor. Only staff can move from one floor to the next. The rest of us have one floor only access. Clearly someone on the staff moved it. He found my stroller, regardless of where housekeeping found it and why.
What makes it so Singaporean is that yes, the rule is nobody can block the corridors with their stuff in the hall, but it seems to me that the hall police took their jobs a little too seriously. Infractions of the rules are met with a sort of what did you expect? Punishments are divied out unjustly – 8 minutes and stroller was already headed to jail, without so much as a phone call or a record. I wonder what happens when the maids get busted congregating? Kudos to the security guard, though, for taking his job so seriously!