I am so "auntie". So?

I was standing on a moderately crowded train, getting off at the next stop. I noticed an elderly lady seated in front of me calling out to a young lady. The elderly lady was asking the young lady to take her seat. She was thanking the young lady for the seat and said she was getting off so she could have her seat back. I was moving towards the door when the elderly lady got up. She thought I wanted to snatch the seat so she explained to me that the seat was for someone else. I replied that I was getting off at the next stop. She apologised for misunderstanding my intention. We both alighted at the same stop and she apologised to me again.

Many Singaporeans dare not even open their mouths be it to give us a seat for someone, return a seat, to prevent seat-snatchers from getting their way, or to apologise for misunderstanding someone. I often see complaints in forums with pictures and videos attached about seat-snatchers and people refusing to give up their seats to others who need it more. If they had the time to take a picture or video, why couldn't they open their mouths to say something?

Worse still, those who would open their mouths to say something on the spot are accused of being very "auntie", i.e. naggy, loud-mouthed, demanding, busybodies, etc, while those who keep their mouths shut and post the videos and pictures online for all to see are exulted as good citizens who expose the dirty deeds of other Singaporeans and teach others how to behave. Have we reached a stage where people accept that words speak louder than actions?

If someone is looking sick and sitting by the side of the road, how many people bother to help? Sadly, only a minority would. I was walking back to the office after lunch last year when I saw a girl squatting on the pavement along a minor. Her friend was trying to get a taxi. Because I work there, I know that she wasn't going to get a taxi at the spot (outside DBS bank at Royal Brothers Building) because the taxi stand was just around the corner (at Bharat Building) so all the taxis driving by would be occupied. So I walked up to the taxi stand and stood in the (short) queue. When it was my turn, I asked the taxi driver to drive round the corner (without me in it) and he will see a girl who is sick and needs a taxi. Of course, I thought about how ridiculous I might sound and the possibility of the driver preferring to take the passenger behind me instead of believing me. Did I need to care whether the driver might think I'm crazy or pulling? I don't think he even remembers the incident. But it sure did matter to the girl who felt sick and needed to get to whether she was going.

The elderly lady on the train got her priorities right. She wanted to return the seat to the person who gave it up for her, so she guarded the seat by informing me that the seat was for someone else. She wasn't afraid that I would argue with her.

Too many people care too much about what the public thinks of them. Yes, I meant the public - people who don't even know one another! They are too embarrassed to speak up for themselves or someone else in person. Ask them online what they think and they'll have lots to say but ask them anything to their faces and they are flabbergasted. Perhaps they are afraid of confrontation. Not everyone offers their seat or stop their bad behaviour when you tell/ask them to. Some would get angry.

Someone who cut my taxi queue argued with me citing "you were talking to your friend" as the reason for cutting the queue. I did tell that queue-cutter nicely to join the queue (behind) but she turned it into an argument. Everyone else in the queue behind me just watched and didn't say anything. She was cutting their queue too, so why didn't they back me up? In the end, the queue-cutter got her way. I assure you if I was alone, there was no way she was going to get into a taxi before me.

(I am not always particular about queue-cutting: when an elderly person cuts my queue when I'm at the market I don't say anything because it can be tiring and painful for them just to walk.)

You know how some people are too afraid to say anything or make a scene but they will complain after the incident is long over? "I should have done XYZ!" Ya, ya. If the same thing happens again, they'll just do nothing again.

People can call me "auntie" if they wish. I'd rather be a grown up auntie who knows who to care about than some young punk keyboard warrior who is too image-conscious to do anything.


David said...


You possess compasion that apparently some people lack. You also have the courage and discretion knowing when to speak up. You do indeed know who to care for and when to care!

All part of what makes you unique and worth reading.

Bravo to you!


I have learned that what we have done for ourselves alone dies with us. What we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.

-- Author Unknown

gabe said...

I admire your bravery. It's good that you raise this issue.

But if those people are rude enough to cut queues, they are rude enough to start an argument with you. You are absolutely right. People like me are afraid of confrontation.

I find it hard to tell a complete stranger that they should cover their mouth when they cough/sneeze especially in the cinemas, lift, etc. Since they already lack basic civic manners, I think we would be looking for trouble if we 'educate' them in public.

In the blogosphere, we can already see massive hate comments everywhere. That already reflects the existence of such rude people around.

I find blogs or social network sites as one way to raise such issues and to educate the public on basic civic manners, especially on cough etiquette as what I'm struggling to educate the public. But yet again, will those people learn from there. I doubt. But we should not stop trying to raise such awareness.

You have a very high readership hits. So, I'd appreciate if you could write more on some mannerism issues or health issues like the dangers of smoking, proper cough etiquette, the rise of TB cases in addition to some earlier posts you have written on cervical cancer and smokers.


Anonymous said...

Hi.... Agree with what you wrote....
I still remmenber once I was accused by a FAT INDIAN LADY who thought I was snatching the seat from her pregnant friend....
Anyway I am juz standing infront of the seat & the person who sat there going to alight.... Till of consideration, I must move aside to let her move out..... But end up the FAT INDIAN LADY accused me of snatching a seat from pregnant lady....
Sometime I really wonder I been so considerate & nice to other is really useless & worthless....

Yu-Kym said...

gabe, sometimes the queue-cutters will go to the back of the queue if they are pressured by others in the queue, especially at famous food stalls where queues are long. I have encountered a man behind me who put his foot up while seated on the plane such that his foot was on the armrest. I stood up and asked him to put his foot down. He did so immediately otherwise I would have called the air stewardess. But, yeah, I need a back up plan before confrontation just in case. About writing for public education on social graces, unfortunately it's only the people who have some social grace who would want to read such things. The rude people will never bother to read up to improve themselves. They don't see why they need to be polite or graceful. Even those who are polite wonder whether they should just be rude like the rest of the people! (See comment by Anon below, "Sometime I really wonder I been so considerate & nice to other is really useless & worthless.")

Anon, the "fat Indian lady" sure knows how to speak up! Did she apologise after that?

Anonymous said...

I once witnessed an young Indian chap using the shoe wax to polish up his new shoes at Whitesands NTUC supermarket.

When I told him it was quite inconsiderate; he replied, "it's none of your business, anyway I got the right to try".

NTUC staff just shrugged when I informed them.

Once I wrote a particularly strong feedback to Capitaland on a marketing promotion at Funan Centre. It was over Capitalnd Vouchers printed with $$$$ sign and numbers. Except the $100 Capital Voucher is not equivalent to the dollar value of $100.

I watched the poor Receptionist received public lashings from irritated shoppers who found Capital Vouchers of say $100 could not purchase the "gifts" advertised at $100 - real $100 can buy the gift but 10 Capital Vouchers of $100 each was required to purchase the same item.

I thought they recruited marketing staff from a mental institution and suggested their most senior officer should sit at the Reception counter to digest what his staff received.

A lady caller with a very cold & condescending attitude rang my mobile for confirmation on some of the descriptions & opinions I had written < I was embroiled in an unrelated lawsuit with their parent Company, then > & suspecting our conversation may be recorded for Defamation suit, informed Ms Ice the feedback was written on their forms at their invitation to any member of the public. And my motivation was clearly stated - the welfare of their staff was in my intention.

Any problems with that?

Ms Ice modified her tone slightly.

That is what I get for standing up for the welfare of fellow Singaporeans.

I hope members of Singapore's ruling Party have the chance to read this and check the information given here.

Some people like LKY, can conduct themselves with a degree of aloofness because that stance is necessary for the unrully & uncivilised eg, egoistic or violent elements who do not hesistate to knife others in economic or physical ways.

Some people adopt that aloofness, did they think it would build the same aura as LKY? Perhaps they reasoned, since they also owned substantial quantities of shares of the Company they worked for, their share-holdng status count for more than their employee- status.

We should not accept any conduct or practices that is rude, condescending, predatory or conniving.

The value of my nation is also defined by the indignity I would not suffer - from the hands of others.

Regards, Leo