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  • Writer's picturePeter K F Cheung SBS

"May I?"

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

  1. FADE IN

  2. Act 1

  3. INT. LIFT/FOYER, HKUST - 09:20

  4. PETER is at the back of a lift. On a floor, the lady PRESIDENT, the PROVOST and a VICE-PRESIDENT enter.

  5. PETER: Good morning.

  6. OTHERS: Good morning.

  7. As the lift door opens on the 7th floor, The lady President exits. The gentlemen follow. Approaching a door leading to the foyer, Peter observes something.

  8. PETER (V.O.): Oh, the lady President is opening the door and holding it for us.

  9. PRESIDENT: May I?

  10. PETER (V.O.): I'm not used to that. But it's cumbersome to do otherwise.

  11. As the gentlemen pass through first, we hear them saying "Thank you" to the President.

  12. PETER (V.O.)(Cont'd): Her humility is one hallmark of leadership.

  13. Act 2


  15. Peter is having some dim sum at a corner.

  16. PETER (V.O.): "May I?" is a polite way to ask for permission.

  17. Pausing.

  18. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Using "may I" acknowledges a person has the power to grant or deny the request.

  19. Pausing.

  20. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): I accept the favour as I think it expedient in the circumstances.

  21. Pausing.

  22. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): It should help establish a more cordial interaction specially with me since I'm a volunteer.

  23. Pausing.

  24. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): When I'm in a lift with others, I always let women exit first, and most of the time, other men.

  25. Reflecting.

  26. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): I may be showing off how "gentleman" I'm in front of the others.

  27. Pausing.

  28. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): But the situation has changed since the pandemic...


  30. A. Lift. Peter lets WOMAN#1 exit the lift first.

  31. B. Lobby. Following her, Peter sees the woman#1 using a foot to kick open a door.

  32. C. Door. Peter gives a hand to keep the door open.


  34. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): I felt bad if I didn't do that as I didn't mean to let the woman opening the door for me.

  35. Pausing.

  36. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): I've tried another way to maintain my "gentleman" practice.


  38. A. Lift. Peter lets WOMAN#2 exit the lift first.

  39. B. Lobby. Following her initially, Peter cuts her way from behind, opening the door for woman#2.

  40. C. Door. We see woman#2 looking shocked and ungrateful.


  42. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): I might have overdone it. But it's what I was willing to do.

  43. Peter enters Council chambers.


  45. At a lift going from G/F to 1/F, Peter waits.

  46. PETER (V.O.): I save my energy for swimming.

  47. Entering an empty lift, Peter hears "Wait!" from a distance. Pressing the "door opening" button, he sees a uniformed STAFF entering.

  48. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): He must be in a hurry.

  49. As the lift door opens on 1/F, Peter waits until the staff gestures him to exit first.

  50. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): It's only fair to ask of others what one is willing to do it oneself. But it seems that few care.

  51. Act 3

  52. INT. ESTATE LIFT LOBBY - 21:15

  53. A wet-haired Peter is waiting.

  54. PETER (V.O.): This morning, when I said "good morning" energetically to my relatively new neighbours, they didn't care to respond.

  55. Pondering.

  56. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): I've been wondering should one allow others to be one's priority while allowing others to be their option?

  57. Wondering.

  58. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): And if I'm to influence others to do things otherwise they wouldn't do, should I say eg "may I say good morning to you?"

  59. Peter is smiling.

  60. FADE OUT

  61. THE END

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