You know, in all my more than 30 years of driving in Malaysia, I was only given speed tickets three times (some time in the 80s and 90s). Two other tickets on my car via saman ekor only last year, and I was not driving the vehicle on those dates.
That, I believe, is quite normal for Malaysian drivers. But I never had the police tail me for poor or bad driving.
But as they say, there's always a first time. The first time, not back home, but, here in Kitchener, Ontario (Canada) where I have been the last week or so (visiting my son).
So, I was driving this rented car (Toyota Yaris) back from Toronto to our motel --- Comfort Inn -- in Kitchener.
But first, let me tell you what a breeze it has been, driving around here. I was honked only twice, and that's because I had gone into the wrong lane. And the honk was not an angry honk. A friendly honk.
No vulgar signs, nor verbal abuse. No rabid manic drivers who cut into your lane. No ala-Malaysian driver.
They give way to you when you're making turns at traffic lights (without the left or right turn lights) and they stop for pedestrians.
So different from the way Malaysian drivers honk at pedestrians and step on the gas when they see a car turning in front of them.
A pleasant driving experience here in Kitchener.
And no rempits! Just dirt-bike riders and heavy bikers who are great company on the road.
Back to my drive back from Toronto. You see, here it is the left-hand drive. So, excuse me if I kept veering to the right side of the lane. Adel (my son) kept reminding me to keep further left and if I kept veering from right to left, motorists would think I was drunk. Or something like that. Haha, I thought. Surely not.
It didn't help that it was some two-hour drive and it was already dark by the time we got to Kitchener. Driving in an unfamiliar territory at night always makes me nervous. Perhaps that showed in the way I was driving.
I drove into our motel grounds and parked right outside our room. Not a second too soon, two police patrol cars, flashing lights and all, came by -- one from each side.
Shaira (my daughter) saw them first and almost shrieked : "Mummy...that's a police car. Maybe he's here because of your driving."
Shaira had reckoned that I was a little sleepy and was a little zig-zagging. I had begged to differ. Yes, I felt a little tired after an afternoon in Toronto, but was not dozing off at the wheel.
"No-lah....can't be!", I replied.
The officer got out and walked towards me. Perhaps, Shaira's right, I thought.
He asked me if I had just got out of the highway. I said yes and asked what the problem was. He said there was a complaint about my driving. I asked what was it about my driving. He couldn't say but asked if I had been drinking.
"Oh no, no, of course not,", I said, trying hard not to smile because I was remembering what Adel had said. Someone actually thought I was drunk.
Anyway, I did suggest (to the officer) that it could be that I was veering from right to left and I explained why.
He asked what brought me to Canada and I told him yadayadayada.
The young officer had a long look at my international driver's licence,and my Malaysian driver's licence. But, he never asked for my passport, for some reason.
"Am I in trouble, officer?", I asked.
He shook his head and smiled, and handed back my driving documents.
"Just be careful. Take care, now. Have a good holiday," he said.
I thanked him and said that I appreciated the fact that he responded swiftly to the complaint.
Here, people take pride in safe driving and safety on the road. They take it seriously by living it, so to speak.
I didn't tell the police officer, of course, that nothing of that sort could ever happen back home. Even if someone complained about someone's driving, I doubt there would be any police response. And in Malaysia, nobody calls the police about bad driving unless an accident happens.
And what is bad driving in Malaysia?
Something we are all so used to, it's frightening.