Singaporean Chivalry

Here’s a nice counterpoint to my story on Singaporean Generosity.

When I’m running late for work, I can shave 15 minutes off my hour-long commute from the East by changing buses at Fort Road. And, as anyone who knows me will not be surprised to hear, I’m running late for work pretty often.

There’s a crowd of regulars I’ve come to recognize at that Fort Road bus stop. One is a guy in his mid-twenties, tall, well-groomed without looking like he takes too much trouble over it if you know what I mean, basically quite good looking as Chinese guys go. He always has a book in hand, which he reads while waiting and also on the bus. Most recently, it was Crime and Punishment.

Two weeks ago, the bus that arrived at our stop wasn’t particularly crowded, but there weren’t any free seats. I was one of the first to board, so I walked right to the back and stood there. As the bus pulled away from the bus stop, I noticed that a heavily pregnant woman had also boarded the bus. It’s possible someone would have given her their seat if she’d walked deeper into the bus, but I can quite easily believe that her public transport experiences so far as a pregnant woman in Singapore might not have been sufficiently encouraging for her to bother trying.

So she stood right at the front next to the driver, I was standing right at the back, and the guy – let’s call him the Rare Reader – was standing about 2 metres behind her. Noticing the pregnant woman too, he turned round, tapped the shoulder of the guy seated nearest him, spoke to him and gestured towards the woman. The guy duly got up, the Rare Reader then walked to the front of the bus to let the woman know there was a seat for her, and she took her seat with a smile for both men. I, still standing at the back with my early morning grumpiness dispelled by what I’d just seen, couldn’t help thinking that if I were still in the market for dates I would have asked the Rare Reader out on the spot.