its a issue many of us dont want to acknowledge. at the back of our minds, we must have all wondered at some point in time, and yet, we pretend not to notice, or pretend to be oblivious.
today, in school, while i was invigilating outside the classroom, a saw an old man walk out of the toilet carrying 2 large NTUC plastic bags. ive never seen him in sch before. i faced him, wanting to give a smile and a nod of acknowledgement, but he never looked at me. his head was down and he quietly walked past. at some point in time, i felt uncomfortable, and i looked down as well.
maybe he was thinking of what else he needed to finish up in sch. maybe he was thinking of when he could rest from his tiring day at work. maybe he was feeling unappreciated and had learnt not to expect ppl to acknowledge his presence (and therefore, there wasnt any need to look at the younger generation). maybe he felt stigmatised (embarrassed perhaps) having to walk past 2 and a half class full of students who had everything to live for while he was awaiting his last day? how would he have felt? an old man who has served his youthful years to the country and expected a dignified retirement, and yet he ended up in that state where he had to clean toilets for a living.
we can assume all we want, but, we’ll never understand how they feel. when old uncles and aunties have to do cleaning up jobs after us. in school, when they clear our rubbish bins. in the kopitiams where they clear out dirty plates and tables. at the back alley of coffee shops where they have to wash utensils. in posh restaurants where they have to clean toilets. to be honest, these are jobs that need to be done. but, i’d never want my mom/dad to do it. its not that it isnt a prestigious job. (i mean, it isnt… but) its a tiresome job. and basically, i wouldnt want my mom to be cleaning up after ppl. its a job that requires quite a bit of mental resilience on top of toughing it out everyday, smelling stinky things and cleaning dirty things. having to deal with irresponsible ppl who dont put the chicken bones back onto their plates after they are done with it. or ppl who just throw rubbish anywhere.
but thats besides the point. why are these ppl even working? they should be enjoying retirement. granted that there are those who have worked all their lives and still want to continue to work. these ppl should continue. but then there are those who are obligated to work because they dont have children supporting them anymore, for one reason or the other. im not good with the impact of policies and all, but im wondering why the country hasnt done something to alleviate this issue. or maybe she has. but, all i seem to remember is that the govt said to encourage working for as long as the person can work. i mean……. why should ppl have to work at old age? its different if they want to work.
maybe they didnt want ppl exploiting tax payers money. maybe because it really is an aging population in sg and with increasing number of children abandoning their parents, this seems to be the only way out. all that stuff abt keeping your mind stimulated? well, i think time with their old uncle/auntie friends, mahjong games, kopi sessions or fishing time would be a much healthier option than picking up litter isnt it?
not quite sure what im trying to say in this post, but, i just feel that these ppl are often forgotten. it wouldnt take us much effort to smile at them, and yet so many ppl dont do it. all because they are preoccupied with their own business. as it is, they are doing a tedious job. i guess these uncles and aunties will be alot happier if we just paid a little more attention to them on a regular basis. genuinely.
i make the effort to say hi to them and give a big smile (no matter how sucky my day goes), and i think there are many other teachers who do too. and it makes them feel appreciated. i hope we will rub it off the students too.
say a little thank you to the auntie who cleans the table for you at the kopitiam. or help the cleaner when the rubbish bin gets too full. wave a little “hi” when you walk past the cleaner whose resting on the bench after a tough day. making the world a better place does begin with us. 🙂
on a separate note, i hope none of you will abandon your parents. its the most evil thing you can do to the person who brought you up.