Saturday, April 27, 2013

The World will be a Kinder Place..if Only

Sometimes I read heartwarming stories on the internet, on kind Singaporeans, and yes I do feel rather skeptical like these couldn't be real. Got such kind people in Singapore, meh? In a country of people who love to complain in the guise of feedback, being ungrateful, selfish, and self-centred. I don't even know how I can put up with their nonsense..haha. But that's life here. It's a clean country, with rules in  place, efficient transport system (well..except the recent frequent MRT train breakdown) and a multi-racial society that get aong well, most of the time.

But every country has its quirks. Uhm, not many of us are kind hearted. So when I read about such stories, I have reasons to be skeptical but I believe, such kind people do exist who extend their help towards people who are in desperate need of such help but they are often overlooked, or rather we purposely look the other way.

But they're such a rare breed.

Let me re-post this story from the chope food for the needy facebook page, which is a movement dedicated to paying free meals for other needy people.

On Sat evening, I was at the coffee joint in the atrium of Bugis Plus (ex-Iluma). I saw a very old, very stooped & bent-over little old lady shuffle in a hurried manner into their back-kitchen, (housed in a kind of wooden 'shed' structure).

The young woman manager soon hustled her out saying in a bemused manner, 'No, no, this is not a toilet! We don't have any toilet here!'

The old lady looked visibly distressed. As the lady manager was not offering any directions or help, I said 'I will take her. Where's the nearest toilet?'

She pointed upstairs. 'No toilet nearby??' She shook her head.

I proceeded to direct the little old lady to the nearby escalator, but she was too nervous to use it, so we headed to the lift-lobby.

The whole time, she was mumbling in really distressed tones while gesturing towards herself, and I knew it was 'urgent'. That 2-minute shuffle to the rest-room, located at the opposite end of the building from the 2nd floor lobby, was one of the longest in my life. She shuffled along as quickly as her bent body could take her (which was really painfully slowly), making distressed little noises the whole time, with me trying to reassure her that we were reaching, we were almost there, it's just down this (very looong) walkway.....

While she was in the restroom, I waited for her, because I knew she could not easily navigate her way out of the intimidating new-fangled mall.

When she came out, I noticed her feet. Very worn and gnarled with several toes overlapping, sure signs of a hard life of toil. What worried me most were her heels -- the blackened pools gathered in the base of her heels.

I tried to make myself understood, 'Ah ma, your feet are not good. You must go and see a doctor. Diabetes. You must go and see a doctor.' My long-unused Hokkien was unearthed from some corner of my memory -- 'Diabetes' translates into 'sweet urine'.

She nodded, mumbling something. I passed her some cash telling her 'This is for seeing the doctor. You MUST go to the doctor. Your feet are not good.'

A sweet young lady overheard our exchange and pressed some money into her hand, too.

I accompanied her to the ground floor, and we parted ways, me still nagging her about the doctor.

As I took a wrong turn, THERE, just round the corner from the coffee joint was a toilet!! I went back & asked the young manager 'Do you know there is a toilet just behind here?'

She shrugged and offhandedly said 'We prefer the one upstairs.'


People need to open their eyes & be more considerate towards the needs of the elderly & the physically-challenged.

The designers of mall-signage and lift-buttons nowadays often forget that there are also old people who use the mall. Many who cannot see the pinprick of light used to indicate which floor is pressed in the lift, or understand the funky symbols for 'male' or 'female' used in the toilets.

And retail & service staff MUST go above and beyond their contract-designated roles, and understand that some people just need a little consideration and human kindness, even if they are not actually your shop's customers.

Honestly, I am not surprised at the young manager's attitude because her attitude is the attitude of many Singaporeans here. I am not dissing Singaporeans because I believe not all of them are like that but we sometimes like to wait for others to do the deed like waiting for other people to give up the seat instead of them. But some things, they would rather be first like queuing in the wee hours for the latest i Pad or the latest Samsung mobile phone. 

I love my country so hearing such heartwarming real life stories make me believe that my love is not uncalled for. These people are true gems, the guy who told the story and helped the old lady and another lady who also gave some money to help pay for her medical fees.

Way to go, Singaporeans. Let's hope we hear more of such stories or even be inspired by them  =)

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