As discussed previously, my dad grew up in the jungle, more or less. He and his family came back to Singapore after the war was over to rebuild their lives. At some point my dad got a job at a cinema as the assistant manager. Singapore’s not a very big place, but it did have quite a lot of wealth and, sadly, criminals to go with it.
It’s probably not a surprise, then, that gangsters would often hang out at the cinema. Unfortunately for my dad, one of his brothers had a tendency to get into trouble (probably by running his mouth, because, according to my dad, he was cocky). This led to these thugs slapping him around.
One day, my dad’s at work and one of the workers comes running and tells him, “Harold, there’s a bunch of guys downstairs smacking around your brother!” Most people would phone the cops. My dad took off his suit jacket and ran down into the parking lot.
He gets there and there’s four or five guys beating on his brother, so he jumps in, swinging his fists. (He told me he picked one fella up and threw him. I’m not sure if I completely believe that.) He’s punching guys left and right, they’re grabbing him and rolling on the ground. At some point, he gets hit in the back of the head and gets knocked out. He wakes up a little while later (Seconds? Minutes? There’s no way to know) and he sees them hitting his brother, so he plunges back in headfirst.
Luckily for him, someone more sensible did run and get a cop. A local detective shows up and fires a shot into the air. Everyone stops.
“Police! Everyone get on the ground!”
In Singapore, and in other Asian countries at this time, when you assume the position, you don’t put your hands on the wall or behind your head. At least according to my dad’s account, they make you sit cross-legged, with your arms folded and hands under your armpits. The officer lined everyone up this way in the parking lot.
Once he’d determined my dad and his brother were the ones he was supposed to be rescuing, he told them to get up. My uncle got up and meekly walked over to the cop. My dad got up, turned around and then slapped all four or five cross-legged gangsters with one giant paintbrush-style slap upside their heads.
The cop yelled at him in exasperation not to do that, then started laughing and told him he had guts.
This may have been one of the reasons my dad eventually became a cop: he loved slapping gangsters.