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July 08
2020 年 7 月 8 日

熟與不熟

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聽到一個故事,話說一塊三分熟的牛排和一塊五分熟的牛排在大街上遇到了,可是他們都沒跟對方打招呼。為什麼呢?因為他們「不熟」。

回到東方滿十年,在香港任職,發現果然東西有別。其中之一,十分有趣。港台人士彼此交流密切,常遇過有人號稱與某某人很熟。這某某「人」,除了單指「個人」,也可以泛指「一群人」或是某個「機構」。

怎麼熟法?

典型的例子是,如果某某人發達或得勢,則號稱熟的朋友必然多如過江之鯽。一但某某人出了問題,或者因為時空改變,以致某某人的優勢跟著改變,那麼許多「很熟」的朋友就可能忽然翻臉像翻網頁,一下子變得跟某某人不熟,甚至不認識,就像三分熟的牛排在大街上碰到了五分熟的牛排,逃得比誰都快。

有新官上任,針對媒體發現他曾得意擔任某機構的技術顧問,便以超導的速度撇清關係,聲明此乃「莫須有」的關係。經呈現照片及網頁為證,追問之下,改口說當年曾與該機構的前負責人見過面、吃過飯而已,云云。

不當官的時候,可不是這副嘴臉喲!


Degrees of familiarity

I heard a joke about two beef steaks. They bumped into each other in the street but didn't acknowledge each other. You see, one of them was rare, or 33% shu (a pun on the Chinese word meaning "doneness" or "familiar with" and "knowing someone") and the other medium, or 50% shu. The reason for their not greeting each other was that they were bu shu, or were not "familiar with" or "did not know" each other.

Familiarity is a relative concept. During the ten years since I came back to the East from the US, I have come to see that one of the chief differences between the East and the West is the way people in Hong Kong and Taiwan claim they are familiar with someone in power as a means to emphasise their own status. This "someone" can refer to an individual, a group of people or even an organisation.

But how familiar are they really?

Here is a typical example. Quite often people claim to be a good friend to someone who is in their prime and gaining in power. But as soon as that power wanes, or some advantage is lost, many of those "very familiar" friends vanish! They can turn away faster than flicking to another webpage, and quickly become just like the 30% "done" steak not acknowledging the 50% "done" one.

Another example involves an appointed official who, facing media reports about a stint as a technical consultant for a mainland organisation, quickly distanced himself from the reports, claiming that the relationship had been "trumped up". When challenged by photos and online material, the official modified his story, saying only a brief meeting and meal with a former head of the organisation had taken place.

It is remarkable how quickly the familiar becomes unfamiliar, and vice versa!

8 July, 2020

 

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