Singa, the courtesy mascot I grew up with was reported to have thrown in the towel. In his opinion, Singaporeans are never going to be courteous, kind or gracious. I would have agreed with him if not for the stories I’ve heard and read in the past two months.
My son, Andreas, had just returned from Brunei last month and had a day off. He went into a watch shop in Lucky Plaza, hoping to change the battery of a CK watch his father had given him. The salesman quoted him $25, but then advised him to go to the agent across the road at Wheelock Place, as they might service the watch for him for free. Now we all know about the reputations of shops in Lucky Plaza, so I was surprised when my son told me the story. Anyway, he went across to the agent who quoted him $60 for the battery change as the warranty had expired. Andreas went back to the shop at Lucky Plaza in the end.
After his battery change at Lucky Plaza, he crossed the road to Kinokuniya, intending to purchase a book for his Thailand trip a week later. As he was queuing at the cashier, a young man offered Andreas the use of his VIP card for discount. Grateful, Andreas accepted.
Andreas came home, overwhelmed by the kindness he had encountered, and gushed about it.
My other son, Ivan, told me last week about this kind fish ball noodle seller at the Bedok market. The market is located opposite Bedok camp and many army boys frequent it. The signboard above the stall lists the price of his noodles and Ivan realized he was charged $0.50 less. When Ivan told the seller, the seller replied that men in uniform will be given a discount. Ivan was touched. That’s the noodle seller’s small way of showing his appreciation to the men in uniform.
In the June 2013 Issue of O magazine, writer Heather Greenwood Davis recounted how she and her family, including her two young sons, stepped out of the train in Chengdu only to realise that they had forgotten to have the hotel’s name written down in Chinese, and the taxi drivers swarming them did not speak English. She described the incident as follows: Suddenly, a man carrying a laptop approaches. “Where are you trying to go?” he asks. Soon he’s negotiating with a driver, and not long after that we’re laughing with him over breakfast at our hotel. He turns out to be a visiting professor from Singapore. “I couldn’t just leave you out there to fend for yourselves.’ he tells us. Davis ended the tale by saying ‘We know this never would have happened back in Toronto.’
I wrote to Ms Davis for the Singaporean’s name. Mr Richard Ang, you certainly did Singaporeans proud and put us on the kindness world map. (Read about Richard Ang on Davis’s blog http://globetrottingmama.com/the-good-people-of-china/).
So Singa, there is hope. We just need to get the stories out there.