Attention-seeking in Numbers

The word convoy conjures up romantic images of a column of dusty brown trucks, led by Gregory Peck, blazing through the desert in a desperate attempt to deliver much needed supplies to beleaguered Allied troops in Tobruk. They get strafed by the Luftwaffe, fight off numerous assaults by German storm-troopers and continually evade a Panzer division hell bent on causing them grievous hurt. But in the end, they arrive at their destination just in the nick of time to save the day (and David Niven’s ass).

Mention convoy again and I‘ll think of a pack of destroyers cutting through the wicked waves of the Pacific ocean on their way to rescue a crippled aircraft carrier besieged by the entire Japanese Imperial Navy. The convoy, this time led by Henry Fonda, survives the relentless torpedo attacks of homicidal Japanese submarine commanders, miraculously swats every kamikaze Daichi Val dive-bomber out of the sky and even overcomes a half-assed mutiny attempt. They arrive (again just in the nick of time) to sink the Yamato and escort Cary Grant’s crippled aircraft carrier into the safety of the sunset – and back to Pearl Harbour.

However, the reality of convoys, here in Malaysia, is somewhat less endearing. Mention the word convoy in the Malaysian context and I will form a mental picture of seriously attention starved people: people who, in all likelihood, admire their vehicles just a bit too much and who will find any excuse to parade their cars (or motorcycles as the case may be) as an ego-stroking collective unit through the nation’s streets.

Let’s take the car-owners first. A convoy is an excuse for them to drive their event sticker laden cars in single-file, usually above the national speed limit, with their hazard lights flashing. Never mind that it disrupts traffic: other road-users do not figure much in their scheme of things. The important thing is that they have managed to get the police to do their bidding and wave them past red lights and other nuisances that ordinary road-users have to contend with.

And what is all this in aid of? You guessed it, folks! To correct the attention imbalance: the attention they crave (but can never get) as individuals. But in a convoy, their all wishes come true.

Now let’s talk about the motorcyclists. It’s the same story isn’t it? It doesn’t matter whether they own kapchais or custom-made 1,800cc monsters. With the exception of a very cool few, they all want to ‘convoy’.  I would understand – if I gave it any thought – the kapchai crowd. I mean, they get bullied by other road-users on a daily basis. Thus ‘convoy-ing’ gives them a shot at earning some respect.

But what gives with the folks who own the big-capacity, high-performance, mega-ringgit bikes? Why do they ‘convoy’? I find it hard to believe that these folks are that insecure. Or are they? I mean, aren’t bikes the epitome of freedom and individuality in the first place?

Motorcycles are the chosen machines of the rugged, lone-wolf, I-don’t-need-anyone types. This is the mystique behind bikes. True blue bikers ride alone (or in pairs at most), don’t they? But when you have to seek comfort in numbers, can you still call yourself a biker and keep a straight face? But then again, if its attention you’re after, I guess a convoy is the best way to go about it. After all, why bring in the real mystique, lore and romance of motorcycling into the equation? These things have nothing to do with attention-seeking, right?

In my book, unless you are trying to rush off medical supplies, food or blankets to the victims of Gaza (or are engaged other equally noble endeavours), convoys are little more than a joke.

They are good attention-seeking stunts, though.

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10 thoughts on “Attention-seeking in Numbers

  1. hey… you forgot another convoy, the one type that surely is not seeking attention from others rather from amongst themselves so as to stay together on the same trail, in the hope of arriving at the destination all together at about the same time.

    the rombongan meminang convoy or rombongan pengantan convoy!

    since not everyone can afford GPS, so not all convoy are a joke, no/yes?

    Ibu

    Aaah! That type of convoy… This kind just slipped my mind.

    I was just pissed off by this group that held up traffic (and showing off) on my way back to Melaka the other day. It was as if they believed that the whole world had to revolve around them.

    Convoy rombongan pengantin (and the like) are OK. They have a legitimate reason to convoy. But you know the kind of convoys I’m talking about, right?

  2. Hi Matt,

    I see u r a War movie buff too, Gregory Peck & David Niven was in ‘Guns of Navarone’ lah, I think the convoy u refer to was Richard Burton’s ‘The Desert Rats of Tobruk. Henry Fonda’s one, I think u were thinking of ‘Midway’, campur with ‘Tora3’ or ‘Pearl Harbour’. Panzer convoy was probably in the ‘Battle of the Bulge’ or ‘Bridge at Ramagen’ but my all time favourite was ‘The Longest Day’ with its all stars cast, everyman & his dog was in it…hahaha.

    Cheers,
    Tommy
    N/B – Just shooting from the top of my head, I could be wrong 🙂

    Tommy

    You are right on all counts, my friend – even if they came off the top of your head. I should be shot for missing out on Richard Burton!

  3. ..but there is another kind of convoy..with an outrider leading the pack..sirens wailing and blue lights flashing..giving you the finger to pull up the kerb..sending goats bleatding, cats screaming and chickens screeching.. and pakmat who was on his quiet way, suddenly stepping on the brakes whilst cussing..with several strands of his goatee turning white..if there are so many v’s in their ip why can’t the plane or meeting wait?

    pakmat

    These are just as big a nuisance as any other senseless convoys. No matter how many V’s there before in their IP, they should be subject to the same laws as us ordinary mortals – except when there is a medical or national emergency.

  4. Kita conyoy ke kubur mamak !

    Pak Tuo

    This is going o be a bit difficult to organise, mate. I would think that not very many will want to voluntarily participate in a one-way convoy.

  5. Dear Mat B

    Good on yer for the posting!

    My sentiments exactly!

    Hadn’t been able to quite express whatchausay to that convoy of lambos stopping by at southbound Tapah R&R (10012010) … also, whatchausay to people queueing to pose at the lambos line-up?

    Red Alfa

    Lamborghini owners with a need to convoy? That’s pathetic. I would have thought that a single Lamborghini was already a convoy in itself (based on its inherent attention-grabbing factor). But they still need to convoy? I feel sad for them.

    And ppl who queue-up to pose for photos with the Lamborghinis? They and the convoy-loving Lamborghini-owners deserve each other. No, sir! A convoy of Lamborghinis don’t do it for me.

    On the other hand, a lone yellow Alfa, quietly cruising down trunk roads, cool, confident and self-assured is a sight to behold. Wouldn’t you agree?

  6. To me any kind of convoy is a test of patience.. for everyone, be it the onlookers or the participants. bcos it involves a group and groups are made up of people with different needs, pace, priorities.

    Even if its just a makcik kiah convoy, you’ll need a strong disposition to stomach all the ‘karenah’!!

    So convoys only when absolutely necessary 🙂

    justiffa

    You’ve got my vote, ma’am

  7. Never did imagined the alfa in yellow as you have made it out but thanks!

    You see the wife and the kids are saying its a whatever statement too loud!

    Red Alfa

    With all due respect, I’d have to disagree with them. You can safely ignore them on this issue. A lone yellow Alfa growling off into the sunset is what separates a real man from the hordes of pimply teenage boys with raging hormones.

    Lamborghini convoys want to get somewhere; the lone yellow Alfa has already arrived.

  8. i think they are just fulfilling the basic human instinct of feeling that they belong. it could be a lambo club or a wajalution club or maybe the tupperware club. naturally, when in a club, do everything together, and since its a motor based club, travel everywhere together?

    the attention is just a bonus. lol.

    dSaint

    I understand the wanting to do stuff together bit. What I find distressing is the part where the wanting to so stuff together starts to disrupt traffic. At that point I think it turns into something less innocent

  9. Mat-san,

    Maslow(that incomparable guru of human behavourial pattern) says it`s the human being`s crave for “self-actualisation” (read:acknowledgement by others of his/her very existence).That desperate,infantile cry of “Hey!Wait a minute!I`m here too, you know!”

    Explains that need to convoy, the need of the hubby or the wifey to be noticed by the spouse,the need for kids to get the attention of their perpetually busy and pre-occupied parents..does it include the need to blog(too)?

    To each and every one of us, alienation, be it at the workplace, at home, in our own groups, whatever…Maslow says that`s a real fear i.e.that nobody is aware we exist.Nothing is as important as our very being.Ad that is a fact.Believe it or not,when someone hands you a pix of yourself in a group or in the company of some other persons, the first person in the pix you`ll look at is yourself.

    Says something about ourselves, right, Mat-san?

    Hence the need for status symbols & accessories like that hot young chick to accompany us,and we to be seen, at those high-powered,scoiety who`s who social functions(he!he!), etc,etc…this overpowering need to be noticed.Drives the fashion industry, beauty industry,the car industry, the property market, ,the leisure industry, the entertainment industry, etc etc so we can`t complain too much, should we?

    Cheers!

    Higashi-san

    Hmm… I’ve never seen Maslow in this light before. But I buy it

    So by extension,the lone-wolf biker who rides his bicycle around the world alone,the hot-air balloonist attempting to fly across the country in a home-made rig and the fountain pen user in a world of ball-pens and roller-balls, for example, are actually expressing/asserting/reinforcing their identities i.e. satisfying the need for self-actualisation.

    OK,I buy that. But aren’t these people are much subtler and less obtrusive than the convoy-ists? My point is, everyone has a right to express themselves and attain self-actualisation. However, how ‘loudly’ they do this hints at their position in the food chain 😉

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