By an Anonymous Writer

“This is Hong Kong! It is crowded and you gotta learn to adjust to others!”
One of my former Hong Kong roommates told me this two years ago after I asked him to stop his hours long conversation on the phone. I was annoyed and he thought I was violating his right. He somehow convinced me or at least exhausted my points to talk back.

A friend also from mainland China told me to be tough next time and that “They will shut up and listen to you if you act tough”. But luckily I did not have any chance to do that. My former roommate never made lengthy phone calls or lectured me again. In fact we seldom talked to each other ever since. The cold war lasted till the end of that semester. I did not even know his Chinese name when he was gone.

One year later came the second fight in my hall life. It was about the same issue with another Hong Kong roommate. He was talking on the phone when I was trying to fall asleep. But the more I tried to sleep harder it became and the more I was aware of my roommate's speaking voice. I was tired, short of sleep and anxious with having a quiz in the following morning. So I told him to stop talk over the phone. To be honest my tone was not very patient and my language was not very polite. As you may guess, a big fight was about to  follow.  We were so loud I that the whole floor would hear us.

Did this fight end up the same way? Not at all. When both my roommate and I cooled down, I apologized to him about my language and attitude and asked him to understand that I am a light sleeper. He said he was just upset about the way I talked to him and would use the Common Room on the floor to make late-night phone calls. That’s it, our problem had been solved.

As I reflected on the above two incidents, I suddenly found that I always think I am right and I am the victim. I always think about who is right and who is wrong. What I did not think of is HOW- how to talk to others. You may not be able to convince other just because you think you are right and the other is wrong. In any case, SORRY is often the most powerful word.