Singapore – Jan Rick Camara Mascarina was only looking for supplies at White Sands’ Popular Bookstore when an encounter with a passer-by turned into a case of discrimination involving the police and a lawsuit.
On March 9 (Saturday), Mr Mascarina turned to Facebook to share his experience at the bookstore that ended up with him being called fat, having to deal with the police and the possibility of a civil suit, as well as an encounter with an enraged couple.
Jing Jie (JJ), a friend of Mr Mascarina, wanted to start drawing again, so they went to look for some drawing supplies at the bookstore. While minding their own business at a certain aisle, a woman in her 40’s passed by and accidentally bumped into him. She was carrying some boxed items which fell to the floor.
“On instinct, I proceeded to pick up the boxes to help put them back on the shelf, no biggie (in all honesty, I’ve lived life as a fat person long enough to realise I sometimes knock into things, and just pick them up). That’s when she shook her head, let out a loud sigh, and with a visible black-face, proceeded to pick up the other boxes from the floor,” he wrote.
Mr Mascarina thought it was he who hit the items, but JJ pointed to the woman’s huge shoulder bag. JJ asked him, “what is her problem?” It seemed confusing that the woman got annoyed at their offer to help especially when they weren’t the culprits. “She knock things and I help her,(sic) still give me black face,(sic)” replied Mr Mascarina.
Even though she wasn’t included in the conversation, the woman said, “It’s because you’re fat” – words that Mr Mascarina hadn’t heard since primary school.
The dialogue between the individuals went as follows:
Mascarina: Wow. Are you serious right now?
Woman: You were blocking the way.
Mascarina: You’re a b*tch.
The woman became defensive after being called the term and threatened to call the police. She questioned how old the men were, cast aspersions on their upbringing, and even wished her child was present so she could give an example of what kind of person her child shouldn’t be.
JJ: You started it with an unnecessary personal insult.
Mascarina: You’re an old f*cking b*tch with serious problems, don’t bring my parents into it.
Mascarina admitted that his retorts weren’t the classiest or most restrained, “but anger tends to drain tasteful vernacular out of most.”
The woman once again threatened to call the police while continuing to question his upbringing.
Even though the men wanted to walk away from the scene, the woman kept stopping them and proceeded to call her husband while involving the bookstore’s staff. She kept threatening to call the police which made Mr Mascarina actually pick up his phone and dial 999 for her. “Look, you don’t have to threaten calling the police, (sic) I will,” he said.
Her husband arrived, and the couple conversed in Mandarin with the woman only focusing on the vulgarities. Mr Mascarina, who was fluent in the language interrupted the conversation and said, “don’t have to present only your side of the story only, let’s wait for the police.”
It was only then the husband acknowledged the men’s presence. Mr Mascarina thought that the man would be “a voice of reason and mediate” but things escalated when the husband said, “I will sue you. I will bring you (sic) to civil court.”
The husband asked the staff if there was CCTV footage to serve as proof which would have been helpful in addressing the root cause of the chaos.
“That’s when I knew all avenues for dialogue had closed. There was no use talking to the woman, her husband, or Popular bookstore staff, and we just stood by while waiting for the police to arrive,” wrote Mr Mascarina.
While waiting for the police, the woman continued her rant while apologising to the staff and focused only on the profanities and “how there were kids around, and she didn’t want to disrupt their business and pollute young minds.”
Somewhere in between, the woman managed to repeat her initial statement, “Anyway it’s true what. He is fat!”
This was the last straw for Mr Mascarina. “Look, bring me to court if you want, bring the police if you want. If I were a b*tch like you, I’d be taking a video of you and posting this online, to see what people have to say. Let’s just wait for the police to come and leave it to them. Please stop talking to me,” he said.
The husband repeated his threat of taking him to court.
Finally, the police arrived, and Mr Mascarina and JJ’s statements were taken. They were advised to be on their way and to avoid the couple.
Mr Mascarina ended his post with:
“So the reason I’m posting this even when I said I was above it, when I didn’t take a video of her to allow the court of public opinion to pass judgment, was because the police mentioned that if they wanted to pursue the case, they could. I have to defend myself (as my parents have rightfully taught me). The police after all, were only there to keep the peace, not serve judgment. I’m here to tell my side, as objectively and as openly as I can.
With that, I admit to the fact that yes, I am fat, just as you proclaimed the second time “it’s true what. He is fat!”
You should too, admit that you, ma’am, are a bonafide b*tch.”
Discrimination is a serious problem that should be erased from a child’s vocabulary and character starting at home. We have just seen the effect of what happens if the issue is not resolved.
Mr Mascarina was kind enough to reply to The Independent Singapore’s inquiry on his experience. His statement will be added as an update.
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“You’re fat.”Those words were the trigger to an interesting Saturday, that ended in police officers instructing me to…
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