[Updated notes at end.]
The word 'highwayman' was coined sometime in the 17th century in Great Britain. Who started it I have no idea at all. All I know is that the word refers to bandits or robbers on horses, who waylay travelers on the road. But I suspect now, there are less people traveling on horse or horse-carriages which makes the highwayman's job less easier than it was before. Still, they persists with new modus operandi.
There have been reports about motorist being robbed in bright daylight not only in on the highways, but within city centers as well. These new breed of highwayman - working in pairs - would purposely hit a car from the rear, forcing the front car driver to stop in his tracks. The highwayman driver would then engage his victim in an argument while his partner would get into the victim's car and drive away. If not that, then they would relieve the victim off his valuables. Ladies, have been reported to be the highwayman's favourite target. So ladies, please beware.
If ever you are hit from behind, do not get out of the car or open your windows wide. Yell to the other driver to follow you to a police station. And before you drive off, take down the car's plate number. But, having said that, there is another form of highway robbery that most drivers are not able to elude - the Toll Men!
I was reading bro Ahirudin's blog yesterday and it dawned on me that we Malaysians - especially Klang Valley folks - face legalised robbery daily without much of a whimper. At almost every avenue in and out of the city the Toll Men awaits us gleefully (not the workers, mind you, but their bosses!), and we are forced to give our money while being polite and saying 'thank you'. (Well, at least one guy I know does that - that oxymoron cakapaje guy!) Now, Klang Valley folks face the possibility of another highwayman in the making.
Looking on the bright side of it - if there's actually any, i.e - this new toll will bring a new form of employment. Serious! I mean, when I was sent to Jakarta some many years ago, the company rented a house in Kelapa Gading, a suburb of Jakarta. As the job entails lots of traveling within every nook and corner of the city, we had to pay lots and lots of money to toll gate operators. And sometimes when we need to rush downtown Jakarta for early morning meetings, we face a dilemma - several roads impose a heavy fine for single or double occupancy vehicles! To travel these roads, you have to have a full load of 4 people! Now, I ask you, how in the world are we supposed to drive with a full load when most of the time there's only 2 of us? Well, the answer my friend, is literally blowing in the wind!
Some of these full occupancy roads runs several kilometers short and are mainly single direction. At the entry of such roads, you'd find a queue of people by the roadside. Initially I thought, they were waiting for buses and what not. Thus I had a shock when my colleague stopped the car and gave a 2-finger sign to the people! A greater shock was when exactly 2 people walked to the car and got in the backseat! I mean, hello!, are we into some business I don't know, or have we suddenly become public vehicles! But, soon later my colleague explained it to me. And when we reached the end of the street, the passengers were paid and got off to walk back to their 'terminal'. Now, that is the new employment or business I mentioned earlier. Any takers? :) Perhaps the government can shift the duties of the 'jaga kereta' boys here, heheh.
Still in Kelapa Gading area, they found a way to ease the parking problems there. But before I continue, kindly look at the picture below which was taken from 'The Star'.
Now, in Kelapa Gading, or at least when I was there, they faced no such problem. All one have to do is drive into the secure parking area of the mall there and search for a parking spot. If there's none, no problemo! Just double park your car with the wheels pointing straight and do not engage the hand brakes! Then lock the doors and go about with your fun in the mall. If the vehicles you blocked wants to move out, they'll simply push your car out of the way. No hassle at all! What say you Dato' Bandar KL?
UPDATE 8/11/07: Doc Tokasid's last comment prompt this update. Back in 2001-03 when I was running myself flat to the ground, I rented rear half of an office, in Section 15, Subang Jaya. The front half tenant then, were my friends who were in the Design/Colour-Separation/Printing-Agent business.
The parking space in Section 15 is horrendous, leaving many without choice but to double park their vehicles. And soon, the MPPJ at first, then the MBSJ, would come around putting parking fines on the vehicles. Later, they resorted to towing those double-parked vehicles to the yard. Owners, apart from having to pay the compound, had also to pay the towing charges. This had the local people up-in-arms against the council and the latter eased down on their operation. But before that happened double-parked car owners would leave their business cards on the dashboard so that owners of blocked cars can call them. Later, the situation paved way for a new small business.
This particular street we were in, had hundreds of offices. While the business owners would normally rent a reserved lot from the council, workers and visitors to these offices had to fight for parking space. Soon, some of the freelance dispatch riders took a business initiatives and privately proposed to it to the people there.
What they had going, even for the short while it survived, was simple: the people chipped in a small amount each for these dispatch riders to give alerts to each office on the arrival of the enforcement officers and tow-vehicles. The business ended when the local people had a showdown with the council about those tow-trucks. Call it business ingenuity or plain opportunist, they served a purpose then.