There is an old Chinese saying, "People's heart is no longer as it used to be in the ancient times." In essence, it is a lamentation that morality has deteriorated, based on the assumption that our forefathers were kinder, simpler and less dodgy. I don't know much about the human heart in ancient times. And I'm not sure, from my reading of history, if it would be justifiable to claim any significant change of humanity, be it good or bad. But the old proverb just keeps looping in my mind after seeing what happened yesterday and this morning.
Yesterday the university where I work opened to secondary students who will go to colleges and universities next September. We have prepared an information pack with programme details and admission requirements in a non-woven bag. Specially designed in bright colours, the bag was meant to be a souvenir for the visitors.
A dozen of elderly folks and young children wasted no time to come to our reception, asking for the non-woven bag. We told them the bags were for the matriculation students, but some of them insisted. We then reluctantly gave them one each, so that they would leave.
But some of them came back a few moments later and asked for another bag. The first one they obtained were, I supposed, put in their own clutch bags so that it was invisible as if they were just asking for the first time. Some others asked the young children who accompanied them to ask, so that the student helpers did not realise it was a repeated request. And the trick worked. Later in the afternoon I saw an old woman leaving with five non-woven bags on her shoulder, wearing a smile of victory and satisfaction.
This morning I jogged for half an hour, practised tai-chi and then went to a coffee shop nearby to enjoy some quiet moments, as I usually do on weekend mornings. I ordered my coffee, took a complimentary magazine from the rack and put it on a seat, and returned to the counter to wait for my order. Within seconds an old woman in grey hair sneaked in and grabbed the magazine away. I ran out of the shop and stopped her, saying, "Hey, why did you take it away?" Somewhat astonished that she was caught red-handed, she apologised immediately, "Oh, I'm sorry. I just wanted to read this." "The magazine belongs to the shop. You can't take it away like this." She kept apologising and patted my arm, apparently out of fear that I was going to report to the police.
Pardon me for being blunt, these two incidents only indicate sheer greed of the some elderly people rather than reflecting any hardship of their life. I'm not sure if these point to the deterioration of human heart, but certainly cause some disappointment about our fellow citizens in this city.