Hong Kong doesn’t sleep. But who makes our sleepless city function? The Urban Diary April edition brings you the stories of Forest Leung and Joe Ng. Like many of us, they are ordinary people who are not rich and famous, or have done anything heroic in the conventional sense of the word. Day in, day out, Forest and Joe go to work. They give their best despite the difficult circumstances they’re often up against. They are the ordinary heroes every city needs if it is to function well.
Forest is an engineer who repairs elevated roads. His work only starts late in the evening to ensure minimal disruption to road traffic. He is on the road into the small hours of the morning, no matter the weather. He is one of those nameless and faceless professionals who ensure our roads are always in top condition. Yet he confronts rudeness on a daily basis because of unreasonable drivers who blame him for traffic hold-ups. Forest is also a keen road cyclist but he rides at daybreak because both on and off the roads, the car is king. The car-centred culture is felt everywhere, from our city planning to traffic laws. Forest hopes he can cycle to work, one day.
Joe Ng used to be a night bus driver. He talks to us about the passengers he carries every night. Many are people like himself and Forest, common heroes who make Hong Kong a 24-hour city. Joe also faces rudeness every day. The assaults, this time, come from passengers. What Joe and Forest have to put up with highlights our city’s unquestioned indulgence of the mantra “the customer is king”. Joe hasn’t had a pay-rise for six years. He quitted bus driving recently to start his own business.