Something satisfying

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.

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4 thoughts on “Something satisfying

  1. These handouts help them alot. There is an old guy along the alley of Purvis and Seah Street who used to collect card board for a living. Lately he appears too weak to do it anymore. One time I gave him some money, but felt awkward because he wasn’t looking for handouts, so I mumbled something like, “I would like to buy you some beer.”, gave him $50 and disappeared quickly. I looked back to see him beaming. It was a nice thing to see.

  2. Blur u r so good n generous! My gifts are just tokens, $2 to $5. Most of such oldies aren’t looking for handouts, I swear, but I see no harm and plenty of good to surprise them with an unexpected cash gift.

    Talking of scrap cardboard, I’m glad to read in your post that some youngsters in the Syed Alvi Rd area are collecting scrap and then passing them to the oldies who need to collect for a living. I think this is far better than some of the recycling schemes run by Town Councils which sapu scrap from residents and effectively destroy the natural financial eco systems that have been sustaining the poor and old, leading to the latter having to depend more heavily on the Govt/NGO or starve!

  3. This was a one-off $50 token because I knew he has lost his livelihood due to his health (he was in a wheelchair) and he wasn’t begging. Maybe I felt sorry because he was on the way to have his shower in the dumpster behind some shops.

  4. Even a one-off is huge generosity! U shld be a role model for MCYS! Also, I wish more S’poreans cld act spontaneously, unprompted by media reports. Wot holds many back, I think, is fear of offence to the potential recipient and rejection. Once such fears r overcome, pple are generally open-handed. Perhaps a statement T to dissipate such fears? 😉

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