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On Mar 26, when long lines of Singaporeans thronged Marina Bay Sands and ION Orchard for the launch of the Omega x Swatch watch collaboration, they weren’t alone.
People around the world were queuing to get the collection, which comprises 11 models named after specific planets, with bioceramic case backings and velcro straps, going at $372 each, inspired by the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch that sells for a minimum of $9,000.
Despite there being no mention that the watches would be limited edition, many were attracted to the relatively low price of the watches. So it wasn’t surprising to see people waiting outside the Swatch shops at Marina Bay Sands and ION Orchard long before opening hours.
How should we react when things don’t go our way?
Predictably, with a buzz like this, tempers were bound to be as short as the number of watches that were available for sale.
Videos went viral over the weekend of irate customers shouting at security staff, with one going as far as challenging the police (who were called in to control the crowd) to “use a gun to shoot him” in Mandarin, prompting some incredulous reactions from bystanders.
@ruitianbear Dude literally told the police in chinese “pull your gun and shoot me la!” Just becuase he can’t get the Omega X Swatch Watch… 😵💫 #omega #omegaxswatch #swatch #orchardion #singapore #watch #shootmela ♬ original sound – Bear
“Eh bro, this one three hundred dollar only leh,” one amused passer-by called out from the audience.
Someone who was having a much less entertaining time was a Swatch brand manager at MBS, who tried to explain to the crowd about the situation but was constantly yelled at and heckled until he left in exasperation.
@horolojy Omega Swatch Brand Manager addressing to angry customers. Skip to 7:30 to see him walk off #singaporetrendimg ♬ original sound – Jer
One commentator on the clip said: “Feel so bad for them having to deal w these people, relax la it’s just a watch they’ll still be able to get it another time what.”
Even the creator of the TikTok admitted: “Hmm to be honest idk how y’all see it lah but it’s my first time queuing for such thing. Never will I do it again haha.”
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This incident reminded me of another time an angry crowd insisted on getting their way, one way or another.
Back in 2013, Mcdonalds released Hello Kitty plush toys with every extra value meal purchase. It wasn’t the first time the fast-food chain had such a promotion, but the outcome was not exactly the kind of buzz it was looking for.
Due to the overwhelming response, there weren’t enough plush toys for everyone. This caused an outrage amongst Singaporeans as they had bought the meals just to get the Hello Kitty plush toys, prompting many to demand solutions to make up for the lack of stock.
This scene look familiar to you?
It has been almost 10 years and we seem to have learned nothing.
Although it’s natural for us to get upset when something doesn’t go the way we want, how we handle our emotions in these situations is very important.
The people who queued for the Omega x Swatch watches decided to channel their anger into harsh words at the Swatch brand manager, even though there’s nothing he could do at that time.
Talk about shooting the messenger.
Can anyone really blame him for giving up trying to pacify them?
Drawing Law Minister’s attention
The fiasco even drew the attention of Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam who posted on Facebook to address the situation.
In his post, Minister Shanmugam pointed out that while “it can be frustrating that time is wasted and he can’t immediately get what he wanted, but that is not going to be solved by shouting at the Police”.
The minister went on to remind people to have a sense of perspective and there are countries going to war and people suffering in many different places, we needn’t be losing our minds over situations like these.
Not getting what you want does not give you the right to treat others how you want.
Moral integrity matters
Talking about treating other people right, I’ve got a bone to pick with these Omega scalpers.
The kiasu culture in Singapore is real: I’m just as kiasu as the next Singaporean and I enjoy keeping up with the current trends and grabbing promotions on new products.
What I don’t respect is how many people who actually managed to get the watch were doing it to earn a quick buck.
From the original of $372 per piece, these scalpers were jacking up the prices from $750 to as high as $2,000 on Carousell.
I get that in a capitalist market driven society, profits are earned from people who take advantage of information gaps.
But scalping others who may be unaware that the watches are not limited edition is probably going a little too far.
It is understandable that some people would try to resell the products they bought at a slight premium, to pay for their time spent queuing for the product.
But by jacking up the price so much, it crosses a line from savvy businessman to dodgy con artist.
Thankfully, good-hearted Singaporeans created listings to warn potential buyers from getting ripped off, stating that the watches were not limited edition and that more stock would be available in the future at the original price.
It even prompted Carousell to post a public service announcement on its Facebook, thanking its users for putting up their own PSAs on the watch scalpers!
I’ve been taught that regardless of the situation, moral integrity is one of the most important values in someone’s life.
I like the lyrics in George Harrison’s “See Yourself”. The lead guitarist of the Beatles wrote this song during his solo career but had started it while he was still with the band.
It’s easier to tell a lie than it is to tell the truth
It’s easier to kill a fly than it is to turn it loose
It’s easier to criticise somebody else
Than to see yourself
It’s easier to give a sigh and be like all the rest
Who stand around and crucify you while you do your best
It’s easier to see the books upon the shelf
Than to see yourself
It’d be easy for scalpers to earn more money, but the easier way isn’t always the right way.
What can we learn from this?
Instead of having a mindset that “I am entitled to buy a watch because I queued for it”, we should stop always putting ourselves first.
The key to being happy is to be grateful for what you have rather than focusing on what you don’t. With that approach, it becomes easier to be kind to others — or be less angry when things don’t go your way.
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There is so much suffering in the world right now, there is no need for us to add to it.
There is no harm in taking a step back to see the bigger picture, and putting yourself in other people’s shoes.