When it comes to describing Singaporeans, what comes to mind? The world witnessed and admired how the Japanese rallied around each other in their deepest hour of need in the recent calamity that hit their nation. Selflessness, compassion, kindness and sense of unity was demonstrated as fellow country men stepped forward to help those in need. This left many of us questioning if we would ever see such a strong community spirit if such a thing happened to us in Singapore.
Last evening, Alexis and I were on our Friday date night, a ritual we started a few months ago as we recognized that having a kid was starting to put our relationship in the back seat. We were at the East Coast Lagoon food village and decided to have sting ray and black pepper crabs, an indulgence which would impossible with a toddler around.
When the food arrived Alexis dug into his wallet only to find he was short of money. We told the stall holder that we’ll withdraw money from the nearby ATM machine as I had conveniently left my wallet in the car. But as you would have it, Murphy’s Law prevailed and the ATM was faulty.
“Aiyoh what do we do now? We have no money to pay for the food, so embarrassing!” I told Alexis. “I have to walk back to the car lor, no choice right?” Alexis replied. But do you have money or not?”
As we were fussing over our sorry sight, the man whom we were sharing our table with, pulled out a $10 note and told us, “Here, you pay the stall holder first.” Our first reaction was of course to turn down his offer. But he insisted and was trying to push the money into our hands. Although feeling a bit taken back by this stranger’s kind offer, we insisted that we cant take his money and told him we can always walk back to the car (although parked about 15 mins awalk away).
At this time, the stall holder must have seen us pushing money to and fro with this guy so he came round to tell us that if we didn’t have money with us, we can always come back another time to pay him back. We told him that we only have $30 with us, but it was still short of $9. So we offered to pay the balance after we go back to the car.
“If you pay me, do you have enough money for other things? You have money to go home or not? The stall holder asked with concerned.
“Yes, yes we have money but it’s in the car and we parked quite far away.” We replied sheepishly. “It’s okay you eat already then pay me,or pay me another time. Don’t worry.” With that the stall holder left after we promised him that we’ll be back to pay for our meal.
So who said that Singaporeans are only a bunch of self centered complainers who know nothing about showing kindness and compassion? Coincidentally, I just read a blog article that conducted a social experiment on see how willing people were to offer a free meal to someone with gastric and the results were surprising.
This whole episode made me realize how little it takes to reach out to those in need. These two strangers who don’t know us and yet offered to pay for our meal. I joked with Alexis that maybe the guy thought we were on a date and how embarrassed it might make him if he didn’t have money to pay for his date.
But in all seriousness, I’ve learnt a lesson on kindness and generosity from this plate of black pepper crab and I’m going to pass on the kindness that was shown to me. And you know what, there is hope for humanity!