Saturday, April 26, 2008

By offering my seat at MRT, the old man deduced my nationality...

"No, thanks" he smiled as I stood & gestured the now-empty seat to him. Did not insist as it may hurt his pride. So I sat back & pretended to busy myself reading the newuniversal.

"You are not Singaporean, are you?" he popped up the question.

"No, I am not. And how do you know about it, uncle?" Surely not from my accent as I didn't say a word to him. Just a gesture, that's all.

"You see, Singaporeans do not normally offer seats to old people." he sighed.

"Are you a Singaporean yourself, uncle? You sure don't sound like one."

"Well, I am a Singapore citizen. A Eurasian."

Ah. Silent awkward moments as I felt glares from the rest of the passengers. Did we talk too loud? Or were they just offended by the old man's remark of Singaporeans not normally offering their seats to old people?

I just wanted to read the graphic novel in peace, dammit. Not being talkative myself, I decided to exit on the next stop. Perhaps the old man could make good use of the now-really-empty seat I left.

Being courteous--or to be precise, simply doing things what ought to be done--could have been easier if people are willing to accept the act.


lsilver said...

Well said for the last sentence, once I offered a seat to a middle-aged women in the train, guess what, she stared at me first and then threw her face away from me. I have stood up only to be embarrassed by her inside the train with the crowds looking.

Ah Seng said...

I have always been offering my seat to those who need it more than me.

There was a time where I stood up to offer my seat to a pregnant lady, but a fat uncle whom I think is in his fifties, fought his way through the crowd and planted his ass on the seat. Eww.

Ravon said...

i think Singaporeans do give up their seats to those who need it more. i am not sure why the elderly has such a misconception.

*snowbiscuits* said...

i think there are more and more younger singaporeans who are willing to give up their seats for the elderly and pregnant ladies.

it feels good actually to give up a seat. some eldery people are really nice about it when i offer them my seat. i don't know why people try to avoid doing these acts.

Aaron said...

I have always offered my seats to pregnant ladies, the truly elderly and those who needs it.

Do we actually need to think more than that?

mrdes said...

What's sad is when a new-comer to Singapore would pick up this "culture" from the local. Deep down, I know WE started it.

Anonymous_X said...

Isilver: Middle-aged women are not that old/frail. Unless they have with them a lot of stuff to carry, I don't even dare to try to offer my seat to them.

ah seng: Yeah. Makes you feel like punching him, doesn't it? The funny thing with this kind of people are they usually have developed skin thick enough to be able to ignore glares from the bystanders.

ravon: The old man in my blog post might have made some generalization.

*snowbiscuits*: Maybe some elderly refuse to accept the seat because they feel bad as they themselves in their younger days did not offer the seat to the needy? (How long has SMRT been around anyway?)

aaron: Well, one can be out of topics to blog. And nothing easier to write than the snippets of real life experiences one experiences while "walking down a lonely road".

mrdes: there's no certainty that a new-comer has not had similar "culture" from the very beginning...even before he/she came to Singapore.

ET said...

I am a coming to 60 year old beard man who lived for 3 months in Beijing 2 years ago. I frequently travelled by bus there. On a few occasions, younger passengers gave up their seats for me. Sometimes, even the bus conductor would remind the younger passengers to offer me their seats. They are more respectful of older passengers there. In Singapore, I nearly NEVER experienced such graces from our young passengers. How sad!