Once upon a time, there was a particular Asian woman who lived in my apartment block. One day, as she was heading out, she noticed one of her neighbours hiding behind a tree, and as she walked past, he flashed at her.
This happened on a number of occasions, but for whatever reason, she never confronted or reported him – maybe because she was a renter and he was a homeowner and thus a member of the strata committee – I don’t know.
She was distressed and traumatised and told some people about it, and she did her best every day to avoid him.
Other people found out about his behaviour, and they crossed the road so they wouldn’t have to encounter him and lose their appetite.
Until one day, he did it to a woman who responded by mocking his manhood.
That was the last report of The French Street Flasher’s activities in our neighbourhood.
This all happened a few years ago, and I would never have known about this until an incident this week.
As I was stepping out with Baby Noah, one of my neighbours accosted me, invaded my personal space, pointed his finger and yelled in my face –
- The day before, he had heard a banging sound on two occasions – which is the sound of Noah playing on his spinning board for about 2 minutes – at 8am and at 6pm.This was what he meant (and he DOESN’T live directly below me, fyi) –
- I MUST stop it because it’s annoying him
- My son is out of control and I have to learn to discipline him
This was a man with whom I had been civil for the last 3 years – I’ve gifted him homemade Chinese New Year cookies, and given him countless packs of free sausages, and even briefly dropped in at his apartment.
So, mustering every ounce of diplomacy in my bones (ie. zero), I told him –
- 8am & 6pm are daylight hours, so we’re not contravening any strata laws
- Come and talk to me if he hears that noise at 3am, but stay away otherwise
- Did he know that Noah can’t speak and is medically-classified as severely disabled
- Take Noah for ONE day and then come talk to me about discipline
- I fought the doctors for 217 days for Noah’s right to live when he was in hospital, I wasn’t about to take this kind of intimidation lying down
What did he do? He backed off on the basis that “he didn’t realise Noah was disabled”.
Folks, this is rubbish – people play loud music during the day and drill holes in walls and whatever else they do – and he doesn’t complain, and shouldn’t.
This kid plays for 2 minutes TOTAL on the spinning board, and this guy tries to put a stop to it – whether because he thinks we Asian women are too meek to fight back (thanks to his past career as a flasher) or whatever.
So yeah, I never would have given this man a second thought except for the occasional friendly neighbourly gift-giving. But thanks to that encounter, he got on my radar, and within the same day, I found out about his extra-curricular activities. So I’m going to remind him I know his secret next time he tries to throw his weight around.
As full-time carers of people with special needs, we are constantly under stress.
Taking Noah anywhere is a stressful activity.
He puts himself in danger by running into oncoming traffic.
He knocks food and drink off the table, that’s within his reach.
He can’t talk so he smacks other kids and they get upset.
He gets bullied by other kids in the park because he’s still in diapers and he looks different.
Our home is our sanctuary – at least, he gets to play within our four walls without being judged by society, and without getting himself or others in trouble.
So yeah, I get offended when Noah can’t even play by himself at home without some failed hobby-flasher trying to intimidate us.
Now with Chinese New Year coming up, the question remains whether instead of pineapple cookies, I should get this guy a trenchcoat.