It occurred to me yesterday that the main reason for my frustrations (usually at Singaporeans in general and strangers who bump into me or block my way when i’m walking along), is that i have certain expectations of courtesy and manners which i would like everyone to fulfil. (It is reasonable to expect someone not to bump into you while you’re walking on the sidewalk right? And stand behind those yellow lines so i can get off the MRT!) Of course, not everyone does it, but a good considerable amount do, and honestly, it just takes one manner-less doofus to stand smack in the middle of the doorway to block the crowd that is pushing me off the MRT. If you think i’m kidding, go try taking a train and alighting at Clementi at peak hours – you can’t get on, you can’t get off and everyone on both sides are rushing toward you like the Red Sea after the Israelites have crossed.

Thus it also occurred to me that one solution (and perhaps not the only one) is to remove these expectations of other people (but definitely not off my own shoulders), and not expect them to be polite and courteous. Therefore, when such things happen, i could just take them as commonplace and expected. Although that’s a viable solution, but i think that seeing as i’m a human and a Singaporean, i would like to have a better impression of Singaporeans in general, though admittedly it’s getting hard with all the Westerners in NUS telling me how generally inconsiderate Singaporeans are, and i don’t suppose writing in to the Straits Times would help because it’s been done so many billion million times that by now the reaction of most Singaporeans is just to glance over it, say “orh liddat ah.” and then carry on with their lives, blocking people at the MRT and bus and bumping into innocent walkers (like me) along the road.

So although i’m not the best mannered person in the world, i am going to do this: I will stand behind yellow lines and such and conscientiously avoid hindering anyone’s path and make sure i show manners to strangers who walk by me. It’s fine by me, and that’s my way of speaking softly to everyone who doesn’t believe in showing some manners. Maybe one day someone will notice it (because apparently they don’t notice things till the government puts up BIG “COURTESY CAMPAIGN” signs all over the place, and even then, when the campaign’s over, so’s the courtesy) and then at the very least there will be one more Singaporean with manners.

But to those who don’t really show any manners back, especially you older folk (not all of you) who think you can get away with things because your hair is white and you younger folk (not all of you also) who think you can get away with things because you’re still a kid and those in the middle (not all of you too, and yes i know that’s effectively everyone) who think you’re so great and the world is your burrito, remember what they say about people who speak softly:

We all carry a big stick.

  1. No one is perfect, and no one is perfectly mannered. But there is basic mannerism one ought to adhere to. You are right about this; this applies not only to a certain group of people but everyone else as well.

  2. jon

    i guess it’s true that no one is perfectly mannered, and that there are certain basics people *should* adhere to…perhaps the key word here is *should* and that’s why we face inconsiderate people each day 😀

    But ah well, live and let live! 😉

  3. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Carmarthen.

  4. jon

    thanks – and do drop by again! i’ll try to make things a little clearer from now on 😀

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