Followers of this blog would know I have a hang up about seeing old people looking worse for wear and feel, perhaps wrongly (?), that the only gesture I can appropriately make is to pass them a few bucks for a treat.
I’ve done it again this afternoon. After driving my car out of the OG carpark in Bencoolen Street, the traffic light was in my favour and I was able to shoot across the road to where Burlington Square is.
And sitting right on the curb outside the Square was this reed thin old man with a large growth beside his nose, a bit ragged in appearance. Even if he didn’t have his cart of cardboard scrap besides him, I won’t have mistaken him as someone from Forbes’ Singapore rich list.
The usually busy road was practically empty of traffic because the traffic lights were holding off traffic from Jalan Besar and Sungei Road. There was no car behind or in front of me. It felt like a heaven sent chance for me to do what i wanted — which was to stop and give the old man something.
That I did. Passed him enough for him to have a decent meal. He was surprised but he didn’t reject my offer, beaming broadly.
I drove off be4 the traffic lights could change and send a wave of cars upon me. My small gesture was more satisfying than anything else I did today.
Did I do wrong? I think not. Did I encourage the old man to develop a dependent mentality? I think not.
Should our government have looked after people like the old man better?
Frankly I don’t know. Because the safety nets are there but who knows why or how many fall through them.
Rather than berate the Government or put videos of the poverty stricken on the Net, we should show our concern by 1) adopting one or two of these down and outs and helping them through the labyrinth of officialdom to get what’s their due as Singaporeans and 2) buy those we come across a meal; if not every time, then some of the time.
If more of us who still have our wits with us — and some spare cash too — take it on ourselves to lend a direct helping hand to those fallen through the MCYS’ safety nets, then these unfortunate people may have a better chance to survive till longer term official help finally trickles to them.