The other day, I woke up to be greeted by the roar of a heavy downpour. An piercing, menacing howl spread like a warning siren. Tree branches were strained by the strong winds, some creaking loudly and threatening to snap. The drains were rapidly filling up and flooding was just another raindrop away.
The news on the radio reported that Singapore was experiencing the most violent storm in 50 years and it’s not likely to end soon. As this was a “novel storm”, the met station had no way of forecasting its progression or duration. I was a little concerned because I had made plans later that day. I had an appointment with my friend Ah Long at 5.00pm, some 10 hours away.
I had breakfast and went to work on my book. Then, as I was preparing lunch, Ah Long called me.
“Hello Ah Long, I was expecting your call. This storm doesn’t seem to be abating any time soon.” I said.
“Yes.” said Ah Long. “Would you like to …”
“Postpone the appointment?” I completed the sentence for him.
“No.” said Ah Long.
“Oh, in that case I’ll meet you at 5.00pm as planned. I hope this squall will recede by then.”
“I was thinking of bringing it forward. What about meeting now?”
“What? Bring it forward? Do you have something on at 5.00pm? The storm is still raging at this moment. The roads are flooded.” I replied.
“It could still be raining at 5.00pm. We can only hope and pray that it won’t.” said Ah Long.
“Huh? If we hold the meeting now, it’s certain that we’ll get soaked either by the rain, the flood or both. If we hold the meeting at 5.00pm, there is a somewhat better chance that it will get better.”
“What if it doesn’t?”
“We can postpone it then. We have a week before the deadline.”
“What if the storm is still with us by then?”
“This storm is unprecedented. It may go on for weeks.”
“Yes, it may, but we don’t know. If we go out now, we are sure to walk into a storm. If we wait a bit, the chances of walking into a storm would be lower. If we wait for a few days, the chances of good weather would be even higher. In the unlikely event that the storm is still raging by then, we can either ask for an extension of the deadline or if worse comes to worst, we would have no choice brave the storm then. But at the moment, we still have choices. Why not postpone?”
“You see, we may still need to brave the storm in the end.” Ah Long argued.
“But the chances of us having to do that would be lower. If possible, postpone it. We don’t know how long this storm will last, but chances are, the later we hold this meeting, the safer it will be for everyone. If we postpone the meeting, we’ll be taking a calculated risk and an obviously smaller one. Why walk into clear and present danger now?”
By now, I was so frustrated with Ah Long’s obstinacy that I concluded that he must either be a complete idiot not to follow my simple logic or he had absolutely no concern about whether I might get killed in the storm. Maybe I should unfriend him.