TL;DR – Let’s find time to practice kindness while weathering the COVID-19 conditions.
We all have been subjected to tough times during the pandemic. With the recent lift of the COVID-19 dining restrictions, a simple dinner at a hawker centre can feel like a luxury. The “Kampung Spirit” that can be found in our hawker centres can feel obsolete because everyone’s too afraid to dine in.
But, for two diners at the Geylang Bahru Food Centre, a seemingly simple dinner became a heartwarming surprise. One of the two diners, Andrew Wong wrote in a Facebook post, sharing an encounter he had with an elderly cleaner who wanted to clear the pair’s serving tray on Monday (June 21) evening.
Strong spirited, despite her age
According to Wong, the elderly lady looked like she was in her late seventies or eighties. Despite her short and frail demeanour, she insisted on clearing their trays at their table, which she did with speed. Wong declined her offer, saying that he needed the serving tray to return cutlery; practicing the National Environment Agency’s mandatory table-clearing initiative.
Shortly after, the elderly cleaner came by again and mumbled in Hokkien about buying a drink. Wong initially thought that she was requesting for the pair to buy her drink, and so… he asked her what drink she would like.
A drink from the lady? How the tables have turned!
Wong had misheard the elderly lady, and to his surprise, she responded that she wanted to get the pair a drink (how cute is that?!). She then proceeded to tell him that she had pre-paid for the pair at a drink stall.
To this, Wong and his dining companion, politely declined her offer. They continued chatting with the elderly cleaner for a bit, such as asking if she had her dinner. She left shortly to resume her work.
There were warm intentions to her offer
Elderly folks have their very own way of expressing love and concern – and this brings us to the next part of this heartwarming story. It struck Wong that he was having a very spicy bowl of Ban Mian, and he was sweating profusely. He then ran to the elderly cleaner, and asked her if she had offered to get him a drink because she saw him perspiring.
With a hearty giggle, she nodded her head. After sharing that moment, Wong promised to come back and visit her again. She reciprocated and told him that she works there every evening, and welcomed him to say hello.
At the time of writing, Wong’s heartwarming Facebook post has gone viral with more than 6,700 reactions and 5,500 shares. Comments have also flooded the post – with praises for the aunty and expressing awe at the plot twist.
If there’s something we can learn from this encounter is that over time, acts of kindness and good never hurts. In times of crisis, this has shown us that there’s a primitive need to stay connected. Let’s all do an act of kindness or two to our communities – I think we all need it now, more than ever.
Recognising the importance of our cleaners amidst this pandemic
Earlier this month, in a positive step towards recognizing the work of our essential workers such as cleaners, it has been announced that the wages of cleaners will go up each year from 2023, for six years.
This announcement, which came after proposals put forth by the Tripartite Cluster for Cleaners (TCC) on the cleaning wage ladder were accepted by the Government, would further recognize the importance of our cleaners amidst this pandemic, and their good work done.